Fact or Myth: Healthy Eating Out – Is Table Service Better Than Fast Food?

This is a MYTH.

Results from a new study comparing fast food and table service meals may surprise you: The average fast food meal is smaller…lower in calories…and more energy dense than the typical table service meal.

In other words, a meal from a sit-down restaurant is not any better for your waistline — and it may actually be substantially worse!

An Expanding Problem

America’s problem with portion control is expanding, according to data pulled from the U.S. Department of Agriculture continuing survey of food intakes by individuals. And many restaurant meals pose a more insidious threat to diners’ good intentions of healthy eating out, than the “Super Size” drive-thru dilemma. Furthermore, since sit-down meals are not as obviously unhealthy, patrons are more likely to overindulge without realizing it. healthy eating out

“Previous studies have shown that it actually takes you longer to reach fullness or satiety when you’re served a larger than normal portion of food,” says Dr. Joseph Mercola, a widely acknowledged expert in natural health who has treated many thousands of patients for over 20 years. “In one survey, 67% of participants said that they finish their entrees when eating out all or most of the time.”

But Fast Food is Not the Answer

Of course, just because fast food compares favorably to table service meals, it is definitely not a solution for a healthy eating out, calorie-conscious diet. Yes, the meals may be smaller and lower in calories than meals from sit-down restaurants. But because the food is so energy-dense, you’re less likely to reduce your food consumption throughout the rest of the day. For this reason, fast food meals can ultimately result in a higher number of calories for the day.

If you’re serious about healthy eating out, properly portioned, nutritionally balanced diet, then you must seek out restaurants that have healthy dining options, or choose home-cooked meals whenever possible.

There are websites that enable you to search for healthy eating out option restaurants in your area. HealthyDiningFinder.com, for instance, identifies sodium-savvy and healthy menu items, including healthy options for kids, in any major city.

There are also books like Eat This Not That Restaurant Survival Guide, which give side-by-side comparisons of popular meals at major restaurants of every type, and provides a Restaurant Report Card, revealing the healthiest (and unhealthiest) restaurants.