Eating out at a restaurant is usually a pleasure unless you live on the outer edge of a tropical island like I do where there aren’t many restaurants. Those that we do have are not any better than Applebee’s. Before moving here we didn’t eat out that much, but now we rarely eat out. So why don’t we eat out? Because eating out is triple bad for you. I’m not going to suggest we should never eat out. It’s a great way to socialize and some restaurants are amazing! However, eating out in moderation will make you thinner, healthier and richer.
Here why you should drastically cut back on eating out:
You eat more at a restaurant
It’s not just The Cheesecake Factory, which is known for serving enormous portions, but 92% of restaurant meals in the U.S. exceed the recommended number of calories for the average person. On average the meals have 1,205 calories, which is over half the recommended daily amount. Many meals were around 1,500!1 The average person needs between 2,000 and 2,500 calories per day. Science tells us that eating less than that may help us live longer. So what if you’re getting much more than that? Sometimes in just each meal? Well, you’re going to get fat, which is what’s happening all around the world.
Restaurants give large portions because people want to feel like they’re getting their money’s worth. Add that to the fact that most of us grew up being told that we must at everything on our plates.
Sit outside any large restaurant, like the Cheesecake Factory, and watch people come out with that look on their face, like, “oh man…I ate way too much.” It’s very common.
Not only calories, but restaurant meals are much saltier, sugary and packed with MSG than you’d suspect.
Human nature is to eat what’s in front of us. Studies of the best habits show that the best way to avoid things like eating too much is to not put it in front of you. You can’t be tempted by something you don’t see. Or as my grandpa used to say,
The heart does not crave what the eye does not see.
The same goes for the stomach. So even if you’re eating healthy food, if you’re at a restaurant, you’ll likely eat much more than you should. Even if you’re eating at a more healthy restaurant, you’re more likely to eat more food.
Restaurant food is less healthy
Eating out is less healthy than eating at home. A nutrition journal put it this way:
Both types of establishments [restaurants and fast-food chaines] were associated with a daily increase in calories, fat, saturated fat and sodium. Eating at fast-food restaurants was associated with an extra 190 calories a day, while eating at full-service restaurants was linked to an extra 187 calories per day. Fat was packed on at about the same daily rate: an extra 10 or so grams. 2
Americans eat out about 5 times per week, so that’s 250 times a year. At 190 extra calories per meal, that’s 47,500 extra calories a year. It takes 3,500 calories to gain each pound. So far this isn’t looking to good.
That’s 13.5 pounds per year just from eating out!
That’s a lot of time on the treadmill.
Eating out is more expensive
One person spends on average about $3,000 a year eating out.3 That may not sound like much but it’s a nice vacation, money to nearly max out your Roth IRA contribution or to fund a college savings plan. I could spend a month in Europe on $3,000.
Most people say they don’t like to cook, but it’s costing us a lot of money. 4
People who work in an office and go to lunch with their co-workers are probably spending much more than just $3,000. Ten dollars a day really ads up over the years.
People spend about half as much bringing a lunch made at home. Besides that, you know what’s in it and can prepare something that fits your diet and helps you reach your nutrition goals.
So eating out is triple bad for you for 3 reasons: you end up eating more, the food you eat is less healthy and it costs more than eating at home.
Everything in moderation
Eating out, especially with friends and family, is often a social event. It can be very relaxing and enjoyable. Like anything, however, if it becomes a substitute for other good habits or just a convenience because we don’t want to cook, then it’s less beneficial. Let’s enjoy our time out at restaurants and treat it like a special experience. We’ll get a lot more out of it and enjoy better health while keeping more money in our pockets.
I made a list of all the things I’m doing to stay healthy in Everything I’m doing to increase healthspan and lifespan
Related: I wondered what we humans should be eating every day. If I could figure out what the was, I’d just at that all the time. I researched the topic for over a year and wrote down what I found.
Read it here: What’s the best diet for humans