Going out to eat is one of the all-time most fun things to do with friends (or by yourself because, why not?). Even if you’re watching what you eat and trying to lose weight, it’s perfectly fine to let loose and enjoy yourself once in a while by ordering the most delicious item on the menu.
But there’s one food type that probably won’t provide as much joy as you think, and it will add an unnecessary amount of calories and fat to your diet.
If you’re saving up your calories for a delicious meal out, it makes sense to splurge a little and order a well-cooked steak, creamy pasta dish, or a decadent dessert. But experts say it’s time to retire this one restaurant trend that adds unhealthy fats to your diet without giving a whole lot back.
Sometimes bigger isn’t always better — and that is especially true when it comes to value meals at restaurants that offer double or triple the amount of food for less money.
“Be careful about ‘bargains,’” Joan Salge Blake, RD, a clinical associate professor at Boston University and the author of the textbook Nutrition & You, told Health.com. “Pasta is inexpensive and it’s easy for restaurants to make a profit, but that comes at the expense of your waist."
It can be even more difficult to regulate yourself and your food choices when you’re visiting an all-you-can-eat buffet. Buffet-style restaurants are great for saving money. But if you’re trying to stick to a healthy diet it makes sense to avoid filling up your plate with refined carbs like yummy bread, pasta, and rice dishes and taking a more balanced approach. Start with proteins and veggies and wait until the end to grab a carb.
Another mistake many of us make is assuming some foods are completely safe to eat all we want. An all-you-can-eat sushi bar sounds like a dream come true for sushi lovers. And the lightweight food, which tends to be super healthy, doesn’t weigh you down as fast as something like pasta.
But this doesn’t mean there’s no such thing as eating too much of a good thing. And, depending on the type of sushi you order, those calories can add up. According to Spoon University, the most calorie-laden sushi includes shrimp tempura, with 580 calories per roll, and rainbow rolls, which have 476 calories per roll.
We can’t deny the allure of all-you-can-eat menus and value menus. In addition to saving you money, they obviously fill you up — and since there’s no point in leaving a restaurant still hungry, it makes sense to consider them.
But if you’re searching for alternate ways to feel satisfied without consuming an excess of calories, a better option would be choosing wisely from the appetizer menu. A large salad that contains some sort of source of protein like low-fat cheese or nuts will relieve you of hunger pangs just enough to prepare you for the main course.
You don’t have to micromanage a pleasurable night out at a restaurant in order to eat more healthfully. Avoiding value meals and opting for healthier protein-rich starters can help when it comes to portion control so that your meal out is both pleasurable and healthy.