Thursday, June 6, 2013

Shocking Ways Restaurants Add Calories

There are certain guidelines that keep reoccurring on this blog: eat healthy snacks,  move often, stay positive, don’t drink your calories, avoid dining out too often.  These are all things that were so fundamental to my weight loss, that I think they are worth repeating....and repeating.  It is almost as if these guidelines have become my weight loss mantra.  

Over the last several months I have been reminded of the importance of the last guideline, “avoid dining out too often”. We have had a series of visitors staying with us, and done a bit of traveling ourselves, which has lead to a few too many restaurant meals.  Despite my battle to compensate for the extra calories with exercise, I have noticed my pants getting a little bit snug (don’t worry, nothing that can’t be fixed by a few solid weeks of home cooking!).

Most of us know that eating out is not ‘good for us’, but we don’t often think about just how bad it is.  Culinary students are taught the mantra “fat is flavor”, and trust me, they stand by that slogan.  Even after years of educating myself about healthy versus unhealthy eating, I am still shocked by some of the common practices at restaurants:

  • Most Mexican restaurants fry their rice before it is steamed, and the re-fried beans are often cooked with lard.
  • Hamburgers are sometimes ‘grilled' in butter, and buns are almost always buttered
  • Restaurant steaks are often drizzled, or immersed in butter
  • Grilled and steamed vegetables are almost always coated with butter or oil (sometimes before and after cooking)
  • Scrambled eggs (and omelets) are cooked with hearty helpings of butter, oil or margarine
  • Some restaurant ribs are brushed with bacon grease

All of this talk about fats reminded me of when a kid in my high school class ate an entire stick of butter.  He was trying to show off to win votes for an upcoming class election.  Outside of some crazy high school antics, most people would never knowingly eat a stick of butter, but that is essentially what is happening with some restaurant meals.  Even Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad has more fat in it than a stick of butter.  To give you another perspective, one food blogger wrote about how her meal of BBQ ribs at Chili's had as much saturated fat as 26 strips of bacon. Now who is going to sit down and eat a plate full of 26 strips of bacon, or a stick of butter?  Nobody.  But there sure are a lot of people eating those ribs.

I am not trying to scare you out of eating at restaurants all together. I am just trying to educate you, so that you realize exactly what is going on in restaurant kitchens.  It is easy to get into the habit of eating out, but if we take a minute to think about what we are actually putting into our bodies, it is usually easier to break the bad habit.

For more help on how to navigate hidden restaurant calories, take a look at my post from last April!

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