It turns out that rather than dining in a restaurant, you’re better off sticking to fast food chains or eating at home. Contrary to popular belief, you’re likely to have a higher calorie intake if you eat at restaurants. This seems to make some sense for two reasons: when you go to a restaurant, it’s typically with a group of friends on an evening out. Conversation and banter starts to flow. Before you know it, you’ve devoured a starter and main course followed by a “light” serving of triple-choc dessert.
Peer pressure plays a little role too as you’re not going to order one small plate of chips when everyone around you has ordered a full 3-course meal. Compare this with a trip to a fast food chain where you’re more likely to order your usual serving of whatever grease takes your fancy. Therefore, overall this would indicate that people consume more calories at restaurants.
Originally experts thought that diners compensated for a blowout meal in a restaurant by consuming fewer calories for the rest of the day. However, a study undertaken in America said this was not true.
Researchers found that people who ate in a restaurant consumed 10% more calories than if they ate food made at home. Also, he noted: “any policies that are specifically designed to make fast food a healthier option or reduce its appeal should apply to restaurants too.”
In the study, volunteers were asked to make a list of the foods and drinks they had on 2 separate days. It was found that on the days when they ate in a restaurant with table service, their calories consumption was higher than on days they opted for fast food.
These findings, which came from a study of 12,500 adults, were reported in the journal Public Health Nutrition. On average, they ate 194 calories more when they ate at restaurants in comparison to eating at home.
Unless it’s Jamie Oliver on one of his famous tours around England lecturing dinner ladies about healthier school meals, most chefs don’t care about calories; they just care about taste. So they overload their meals with chunks of butter and fat to give it a fulfilling taste. Some would argue that fast food chains, especially those located outside nightclubs, don’t care about calories or taste. For these outlets, it’s all about value for money. Their motto: When you’re drunk, tired or hungry after a night out, anything will taste good.
Author of the study, Dr Binh Nguyen of the American Cancer Society, commented: “Our study confirms that adults’ fast food and restaurant consumption was associated with poor dietary indicators. In restaurants, they’re going to eat bigger portions and more energy dense foods.” When people don’t compensate for this by having fewer calories for the rest of the day, its inevitable they’re going to eat more.
Our advice is, don’t feel the need to order extra plates of food at restaurant to keep up with the occasion. Try to eat reasonable portions of food at every opportunity while allowing for an occasional blowout meal on special occasions. If you treat every restaurant trip as an opportunity to binge eat, you’ll either get sick of the food or feel physically sick straight after.