By Michael Beiter
Q: Can I eat out?
A: Scout ahead for where you're going and look at their menu. Most restaurants post their menu online with nutrition information. If you can't find the calorie and macro information you need on the business' website head over to Google and look it up. If you can't find it there check the database in My Fitness Pal. Between the two virtually every food has been databased with accurate nutrition information somewhere.
You might not find what you're looking for in either of these options. Don't worry. You don't have to be 100% accurate with the food log to get benefits from the practice. Even a 70 - 80% match for what you're eating goes a long way by giving your information that you can then use to make a decision for the next time you eat. So find something similar and be content with using that as an entry.
I've often told clients to add a 15 gram fat tax to any meals they eat out. This is due to the meats and carbs typically being cooked or coated with oils and butters. Furthermore, the portion sizes you get whenever eating out are absolutely more than you need. They also fall closer to the necessary nutrition for males rather than females. This suggests females should be OK with not clearing their plate or boxing some of their order for left overs.
Recent research has discovered the dietary quality of meals cooked away from home fails to match those we cook at home.
The USDA estimated that Americans went form eating 17% of their calories away form home in the 70's to 34% in 2011 - 2012. It wouldn't be surprising if those totals kept climbing.
Emerging evidence suggests eating out frequently is is associated with increased risk of chronic diseases like obesity and diabetes.
A University of Iowa PhD candidate completed a study and said:
"Our findings from this large nationally representative sample of US adults show that frequent consumption of meals prepared away from home is significantly associated with increased risk of all-cause mortality.
The take-home message is that frequent consumption of meals prepared away from home may not be a healthy habit. Instead, people should be encouraged to consider preparing more meals at home,"
All in all you should try to eat as many home cooked meals as possible. The evidence is emerging that eating away from home isn't a great choice.
However, if you do, use the advice at the beginning of this post and log your food. It is your safest bet to stay on track when eating away from home.