Thanks to our busy lives, cooking has gone the way of the single-income household. So, we eat out. A lot. The Canadian food-service industry rings up $42 billion in sales yearly. And we keep going back for more.
Just try following Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating at a burger joint. A burger-and-fries combo usually gives you only half of your recommended daily intake of grains without the fibre, your entire daily intake of meat and, unless you consider potato starch dripping with 17 grams of fat a veggie, virtually no vegetables. Re-cently, some fast-food restaurants have added new salads and low-fat items to their menus. Great. But there’s still a catch: once you’ve been lured in with low-fat intentions, it’s difficult to resist the item that makes the fattest profits for fast food–the fries. Even sit-down restaurants will bank on your fat-loving taste buds by lacing their meals with butter, cheese and oily sauces.
But it’s not just what you’re noshing when you eat out, it’s how much. Your favourite burger is usually more than twice the size of the recommended serving, according to a study by Lisa Young, adjunct assistant professor in the department of nutrition and food studies at New York University. It costs food outlets next to nothing to make junk, let alone supersize your meal or give you two pizzas for the price of one, but they can charge you 20 or 50 cents more for the surplus calories. “It may look like a good financial deal, but if you don’t need the food, it’s not,” says Young. It doesn’t help that the drinks restaurants serve–sugary sodas, calorie-laden cappuccinos and fattening alcoholic drinks–don’t satisfy our hunger. They just fatten us up.
Never supersize Except, of course, if you decide to supersize one meal, get a second entrée and split the feast be-tween two people.
Drink water Not only does drinking lots of water fill you up when you dine out, it helps you avoid empty calories from soft drinks and especially milkshakes: some have as many as 1,200 calories. And did we mention water is usually free?
Make it a treat to eat in Don’t make restaurant food a reward. Instead, splurge on salmon steak, gourmet veggies and fresh fruit to celebrate a special occasion at home. Plus, it’s cheaper to dine in.
Read the fine print Most fast-food chains list the calorie and fat content of their food on the Internet and in their outlets. Before you indulge, do the research and ask yourself if you really need that 600-calorie burger or 250-calorie doughnut.