Eating out or eating in -tips to choose healthy

"Eating out in a posh restaurant may be worse for health than fast food, a study has found, as people consumed more calories overall.

Experts had thought that diners compensated for a blow-out in a restaurant by eating less for the rest of the day, but a study in America found this was not true and they consumed more calories overall.

It was found when people ate in a restaurant they consumed 10 per cent more calories than if they ate food made at home.

The authors said that the results showed people were no better off eating in restaurants than in fast food outlets and any policies designed to make fast food healthier or reduce its appeal should also apply to restaurants as well."By Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor

The findings were published in the journal Public Health Nutrition.

The 12,500 adults ate on average 194 calories more on days when they ate fast food and 205 calories more when they ate in a restaurant than if they ate at home.

The researchers said this was not statistically different and so it showing that eating in a restaurant was no better for you than fast food in regard to the total number of calories consumed that day.

Study author Dr Binh Nguyen of the American Cancer Society, said: "Just as obesity rates rise, there's been a marked increase in total energy consumption consumed away from home, with about one in four calories coming from fast food or full service restaurants in 2007.

"Our study confirms that adults' fast-food and full-service restaurant consumption was associated with higher daily total energy intake and poorer dietary indicators."

She added: "In restaurants they have more energy dense foods and bigger portions. People did not compensate for this by reducing their meals for the rest of the day."

"The message is that eating fast food or out in restaurants should be the exception not the norm as it can be very bad for you. In addition to the extra calories consumed people also ate more sugar, salt and saturated fats than when they are home-made food.

"Next time you are in a restaurant order a half portion, choose vegetables or salad instead of fries and drink water instead of fizzy drinks."

She said the effect was less marked in higher income groups as they were more likely to choose healthier food.

Sue Baic, a registered dietitian, said: "The main thing is the difference in portion sizes when you eat out whether it is in restaurants or in fast food outlets.

"Fat is not a very satisfying nutrient, you can get hungry again soon after so that is probably why people don't compensate by eating less later on at home. We tend to eat what we are served, we clear our plates and we generally serve ourselves less at home. Restaurants tend to provide fewer vegetables with their meals than we eat at home.

"I would love to see restaurants offer a choice or portion size, as they do often in Japan and calories on menus as an option is really useful."

Here's some tips on eating out:

  • "Go for wholegrain or wholemeal breads, protein rich foods like lean meats, chicken, eggs and pulses and plenty of fruit and vegetables.

  • Be careful with high fat extras like cheese, bacon, sour cream and mayonnaise on burgers, wraps and salads and avoid larger portion sizes.

  • Avoid ordering fried sides and sugar sweetened drinks, as this will quickly increase the calorie content of your meal. If you do fancy a fizzy drink then select a diet version.

  • If your meal does not come with vegetables or salad, order some on the side, or ask to swap a higher fat side such as chips for an undressed side salad or fruit bag instead"

By Emma Williams, a nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation,

Here's some tips on eating out:

  • Ask for sauces/gravy/dressings on the side

  • You can ask how the dish is prepared before ordering

  • Avoid going for all you can eat options

  • Choose your order in advance so you can be in control and plan in advance and not be swayed by your decision

  • Don't starve yourself all day you may be tempted to order more

  • Choose healthy fillings if you order Jacket potato E.G baked beans, vegetable chilli, and Cottage cheese, avoid added butter, low fat cheese, and low fat coleslaw, include side salad or vegetable portion, and leave out the mayonnaise if you are not sure. Eat it with skin as it's a good source of fibre

  • When choosing salads ask for the dressing on the side so you can control the amount

  • Choose vegetable soups with wholegrain bread

  • Desserts: can be shared, try sorbets instead of ice creams or fruit salad/bag, yoghurt

  • Grilled options-grilled burgers without extra cheese, fish in breadcrumbs instead of batter can be a healthier option

  • Drinks-Try Diet drink, water, flavour water with lemon, sparkling water can be healthier alternatives to regular fizzy drinks and milk shakes, milk in coffee instead of cream, fruit smoothies without cream and syrup

  • Limit alcohol and choose diet mixers

  • For Indian- choose chapatti instead of paratha/naan bread, try tandoori/tikka meat as these can be grilled/dry cooked, swap korma, masala or biryani with madras, dupiaza, Balti, jalfrezi dishes, boiled rice, vegetable dish

  • For Chinese- choose steamed, stir fry, lower salt dishes, plain rice/noodles, vegetable dishes instead of fried/in batter/sweet and sour dishes.

  • For Italian-Choose pasta in tomato sauce instead of carbonara or cheesy sauce, pizza with extra vegetable toppings and thicker with less cheese. Avoid extra toppings on pizza with cheese, meats. Choose lower fat vegetable lasagne instead of meat with extra cream and cheese sauce, ask for salad/grilled vegetables instead of garlic bread.

  • Eat out only on special occasions and save your money for active family times. Homemade family meals can help you stay in control of healthy eating.

For Specialised Diet and Nutrition advice seek the advice of a Professional Dietitian and Nutritionist Tabby kabeer

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