Every day, millions of Americans opt to go out to eat. Of these, the vast majority end up in either a fast food establishment or a “chain” such as TGI Fridays.
While going out to eat may seem like a great way to avoid the hassle of cooking and worrying about what every single person wants to eat, it is surprisingly unhealthy. Fast food companies and restaurant chains like to take advantage of the fact that they are hardly required to post nutritional information in conspicuous places by stuffing their products with unhealthy ingredients that both add to taste and significantly bulk up caloric content.
Fast Food Restaurants
Fast food establishments have a tendency to deep fry things. This habit would already be tremendously unhealthy if they used regular oil, but as of late many have taken to using cooking oil that is laden with trans-fats. These harmful fats have been linked to highly increased rates of all sorts of diseases ranging from cardiovascular to diabetes.
Some fast food combo meals can boast over two thousand calories on their own. That is your whole daily amount in one sitting. A greasy cheeseburger, order of fries, and sugar laden drink can have as much as fifty grams of saturated fat (almost triple what you should be eating in a full twenty four hours).
These days, many fast food establishments are trying to offer healthy alternatives such as salads. In reality, many of these salads also come with deep fried chicken pieces and high-fat ranch dressing and they are hardly healthier than their burger counterparts.
Restaurant chains generally have hundreds of locations and, as such, strive for uniform menus and ingredients. This leads to the use of large amounts of preservatives and generally inferior ingredients. Most menu options are smothered in high fat cheese, loaded with fried components, or drenched in high calorie sauces. These are all cheap and easy ways to increase flavor that also happen to skyrocket the fat or sugar contents.
Perhaps you consider yourself a savvy consumer and choose a simple menu item such as a steak. Chances are that the steak was smothered in butter before coming out. This is another way that chain restaurants like to ratchet up flavor at your body’s expense.
Many high profile chain restaurants now have specific menu sections that make claims such as “all items under ‘X’ calories or ‘Y’ fat”. Be sure to look at the small print on these sections, as disclaimers such as “without condiments, cheese, or side items” are not at all uncommon.
Eating out is convenient, simple, and often times tremendous fun. Unfortunately, you are sacrificing the ability to easily analyze the nutritional composition of what you eat. Single location establishments are far likelier to use fresher and healthier ingredients than their multiple location counterparts, but if you are concerned about nutritional content, you should nonetheless be wary.
Most major chain restaurants and fast food establishments have the nutritional information of their products on hand. Ask to see this information before deciding what you eat. You may be shocked (or perhaps pleasantly surprised) at what you find.