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Watch your Fork!

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Watch your Fork!
The Pitfalls of Eating Out (or Ordering in)

by Hope Warshaw, M.M.Sc., R.D., C.D.E.

Fat Is Everywhere...
Restaurants love fat - it makes food taste good and stay moist. It lurks in high-fat ingredients (butter, sour cream or cream), high-fat foods (cheese, bacon, potato chips), high-fat cooking methods (deep-fat fried, breaded and sautéed). It’s on the table in fried noodles, tortilla chips, and the butter or olive oil for your bread. This isn’t good news for your heart and waistline.

...and So Is Salt
A single restaurant meal often provides all the sodium you should eat in a day; like fat, salt makes food taste better. Condiments, as well as meat tenderizers and soy sauce, have lots of salt.

Meat Is Front and Center
Protein - red meat, poultry and seafood - is the focus of many restaurant meals. Beef, pork and lamb are loaded with saturated fat plus restaurant portions tend to be gigantic. Servings usually weigh at least 6 oz. cooked; 8 oz. is more likely, and some steakhouses will put a full pound (16 oz.) on your plate. With so much animal-based protein, there’s not much room for more nutritious grains and vegetables. Remember, a recognized “serving” of meat is 3 oz. - a fraction of what’s really on your plate.

Fruits and Vegetables Are Missing
Fresh fruit and vegetables are scarce in many restaurants. A few lettuce leaves and a tomato slice might sneak into a burger or sandwich, maybe a sliver of fruit hits the plate as a garnish or fruit juice is poured at breakfast time. Salads are available, but they’re usually drenched with high-fat dressing. Cooked veggies are often soaked in butter, creamed or sauced.

“Value” Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be
In the U.S., bigger is usually synonymous with better. Phrases like “super-sized,” “all-you-can-eat,” “two for one,” “king size” and “jumbo” are popping up more and more. Such portions are frequently twice as big as they need to be, but as long as Americans believe more food equals more value, portions will be oversized.