New research shows that people born between early 1980 and mid 1990s—aka millennials—are expected to be the most obese generation of our time. Yikes! This is problematic considering that obesity is now considered a primary risk factor for the development of many cancers including breast, colon, and kidney. What’s worse is that the research also found that 85% of millennials don’t really understand the link between obesity and cancer.
According to this new research, one of the biggest reasons that millennials tend to have a weight problem is because they eat out and get take out far more than other generations. In fact, it’s estimated that millennials eat out or get take out nearly five times a week compared to 3.4 times for Gen Xers (born between 1966-1976) and 2.5 for boomers (born between 1946-1965). And there is definitely a link between eating out and weight gain. It’s estimated that on average, people eat 200 more calories per meal when they eat at a restaurant versus eating at home.
If this describes you, we want to help! Here is an Action Step from the iTHRIVE Plan that should help.
Restaurant Eating Rules
Choose Your Restaurant Wisely
Welcome to Day 1 Thriver! Eating out can be fun and relaxing. But it can also take a toll on your health. Some restaurants can be the source of too much food and low quality food that contains hidden sugars and too much salt and fat. Fortunately, with the “farm-to-table” movement and the increased emphasis on serving whole fresh foods, we have healthy options. The key is to choose your restaurant wisely.
Here are some tips when choosing a restaurant:
- Think ahead. Go online and look at the menu before going to a new restaurant. There are also many healthy dining finder sites that can help guide your decision.
- Absolutely avoid the all-you-can-eat options. You’ll be surprised at how much you can actually eat at those places!
- Avoid fast-food chain restaurants unless they specifically have whole, unprocessed locally-sourced foods on their menu.
- Look for restaurants that have organic ingredients or choose the farm-to-table philosophy. Typically those restaurants use fresh, healthy ingredients.
- Be wary of items that are billed as “healthy” but are not. If something is “healthy” but has a heavy cream sauce, white flour pasta, or is deep fried, chances are it’s not healthy.
- Ask friends who enjoy healthy dining. There’s nothing better than a restaurant referral from a healthy friend that you trust.
Below is a reminder of some things to avoid when dining out and gives you some key general advice as well. Enjoy your healthy dining experience Thriver!
One of the best ways to have a healthy eating out experience is to focus on high quality, whole foods. Lunch is a great meal to put that focus into action.
Let’s begin with a discussion of fast foods. According to fast food industry data, about 50 million Americans eat at a fast food restaurant every day. There are more than 200,000 fast food restaurants in the United States generating more than $570 billion in revenue. In 1970, revenue was only $6 billion. That is incredible growth! Unfortunately, many fast food restaurants serve the types of fried, battered, smothered, creamy, and cheesy foods we want to avoid when eating out. Many fast food restaurants serve large quantities of food as well. If you must eat at a fast food restaurant, choose one that features calories on their menu so you can choose your food wisely. And definitely don’t eat while driving because you will be likely to eat too fast and eat too much. Certainly if you are eating while driving (or at your desk working), you won’t enjoy the experience as it is meant to be enjoyed. We always say, if you have to drive through to get your meal, keep driving!
Here are some additional lunchtime tips to consider:
- Have a half sandwich instead of a whole.
- Pack your own healthy lunch and go outside if it’s nice out.
- Consider splitting something with a coworker or friend.
- Choose a salad instead of fries.
- Avoid heavy creamed soups and choose the broth versions instead.
- Want something sweet? Choose fruit or some dark chocolate.
- Eat slowly to savor your lunch no matter how short or long it is.
It’s time to love lunch in a healthy way Thriver!
There’s nothing better than going out to a nice restaurant for dinner. As it turns out, Americans are eating out more than ever before. So, we have some tips for dinnertime restaurant eating that you can put into action the next time you have dinner out.
- Choose lean protein instead of pasta.
- Ask for olives instead of bread.
- Avoid chips prior to the meal.
- How about an appetizer or tapas as your main meal.
- Ask for extra vegetables instead of the fries or potatoes.
- Skip dessert or ask for fruit instead.
- Eat slowly (We know, we’ve said that before but it’s worth repeating!).
If you keep these tricks in mind, we are sure you will have a healthier, lower calorie, lovely dining out experience Thriver!
Sharing is Caring
Today is all about portion control when eating out. We have become victims of portion distortion (that’s a real term used by the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association and other prestigious organizations).
Here are some great examples of how portions have expanded over the past two decades.
Today, if you ate a bagel for breakfast with a 16 ounce cup of coffee with cream and sugar, had two pieces of pepperoni pizza and a 20 ounce soda for lunch and finished off your day with a chicken Caesar salad and another 20 ounce soda, you would eat nearly 1600 more calories than if you had that same exact food 20 years ago. If you ate like that for an entire year, you would consume more than 500,000 extra calories compared to just two decades ago!
The first and obvious rule of thumb when eating out is to not fall victim to this portion distortion trend. Don’t be fooled! Here are some easy ways to cut back on the amount of food you eat when eating out:
- Share an entrée with a friend or family member.
- Love your leftovers.
- Eat an appetizer as your main dish.
- Skip the soda and be mindful of your alcohol consumption if you drink alcohol.
- Don’t eat the fries…choose a small side salad instead.
- Choose fruit instead of heavy desserts.
Fast food restaurants are notorious for super sizing meals so it’s best to avoid fast food whenever possible.
And one final piece of advice from Dr. Elizabeth G. Nabel from the NIH: “One way to keep calories in check is to keep food portions no larger than the size of your fist.”
Hopefully, Thriver, you feel like you learned a lot during this Action Step. For our review today, we are only going to hit on the top four things that we really want you to keep in mind when dining out.
- Do some research and be sure to pick restaurants that will set you up for success.
- Avoid fast food restaurants whenever possible.
- Swap out unhealthy options for healthier choices.
- Control your portions and be mindful of the quantity of food you eat.
And finally, today, we’d like you to consider the amount of eating out you do. Can you cut back? The reason we bring this up is because studies show that people who cook at home have a tendency to eat healthier and are less likely to be overweight. Try cutting back on your dining out by just 10 percent. That means if you dine out 10 times a month, cut back to 9. Give that some serious thought.
Enjoy following these simple restaurant-eating rules.