Restaurant food: Healthier vs?

  • Thread starter Pengwuino
  • Start date
  • #1
Pengwuino
Gold Member
4,989
16
I was wondering something. If you compare home-cooking in general, fast food, casual restaurant, and fine restaurants.... what would be the order of fat and calorie content if each makes a similar meal of similar size? Of course, i don't think a fine restaurant would serve a bbq bacon cheeseburger but i just want to know in general, what's healthier?

I've always been under the assumption that home cooking is healthiest, casual fine dining is second healthiest, casual is 3rd, and fast food was the worst.

What is the real low down on this.

viva la penguin revolution!!!!!
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
chroot
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
10,226
34
The biggest problem with restaurants is generally not the nutritional quality of the food; it's usually the size of the portions. Restaurants commonly serve portions twice as big as any normal person should eat in one sitting. Many people in the US have thus confused the feeling of being "stuffed" with that of simply being appropriately full.

Though, it's true, restaurants commonly offer high-fat, high-calorie dishes you wouldn't often make at home, but that doesn't mean you have to choose those dishes.

- Warren
 
  • #3
253
0
The nicer cuts of meat are usualy leaner so if you walk into a fine resturant and order something expensive in general the meat in it will be alot leaner than if you go and buy a burger. The sauce and other things to the meal will make the meal less healthy. The preparation of the meat might not be ideal either.

But its not as bad as a bigmac and french fries that is for sure.

Nothing beats cooking at home. Atleast than you have full control on what gi and macronutrient content you want for your meal.
 
  • #4
Pengwuino
Gold Member
4,989
16
I wish there was a way of knowing what the nutritional facts were on restaurant food. My family is half mexicans, half italians so that whole "restaurants serve you portions twice as large as homecooked food" doesn't apply to us :P
 
  • #5
253
0
you could just try and ask. If they dont know then ask how much meat, potatoes ect is in a meal. Rule of thumb for meat is easy. 20% protein and meat with no visible fat is less than 5%fat. Meat with visible fat is usualy around 10-15% fat. Thats 200-220kcal/100 grams. Potatoes are around 70-80kcal/100 grams. Add 10-20g of fat if you have a fatty sauce with it.
 
  • #6
chroot
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
10,226
34
Part of the enjoyable experience of going to a restaurant is seeing an enormous oversized dinner plate heaping with delicious food in front of you. Even though you don't need anywhere near that much food, it's a psychological lure that keeps you coming back for more. The restaurant isn't even very concerned about wasted food, because the actual quantity of food they give you is not that strongly correlated with their profit. They'd much rather spend twice as much on ingredients (half of which they know you will throw away) and get you into the restaurant twice as often.

I've noticed this effect myself. I went to a reasonably fancy restaurant on Wednesday night, and was served a chicken breast and some potatoes and asparagus. When it arrived in front of me, it seemed like a very stingy serving. I even felt a little ripped off.

Then I ate the meal, was pleasantly full but not stuffed, and realized that was actually a reasonable portion. I'm just used to restaurants serving me 2500 calories on one plate, I guess.

- Warren
 
Last edited:
  • #7
253
0
chroot said:
Part of the enjoyable experience of going to a restaurant is seeing an enormous oversized dinner plate heaping with delicious food in front of you. Even though you don't need anywhere near that much food, it's a psychological lure that keeps you coming back for more. The restaurant isn't even very concerned about wasted food, because the actual quantity of food they give you is not that strongly correlated with their profit. They'd much rather spend twice as much on ingredients (half of which they know you will throw away) and get you into the restaurant twice as often.

- Warren

I sure like the sound of american resturants. Here in sweden if you go into a nice resturant and order a expensive meal you get a microscopic piece of meat and a little of what you wanted with the meat. Not even a school girl would be satisfied with it.:grumpy:
 
  • #8
Pengwuino
Gold Member
4,989
16
Azael said:
I sure like the sound of american resturants. Here in sweden if you go into a nice resturant and order a expensive meal you get a microscopic piece of meat and a little of what you wanted with the meat. Not even a school girl would be satisfied with it.:grumpy:
America, home of the 12 pound cheeseburger.
 
  • #9
2,985
15
Azael said:
I sure like the sound of american resturants. Here in sweden if you go into a nice resturant and order a expensive meal you get a microscopic piece of meat and a little of what you wanted with the meat. Not even a school girl would be satisfied with it.:grumpy:
Yes, but in places like that, you don't eat one meal. You have a small appetizer, a small bowl of soup, a small meal and a small desert. I like that method better than one big meal where you get tired of the same flavor.
 
  • #10
chroot
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
10,226
34
Everyone likes American restaurants. You'll often get a plate twice the size of any plate used in the home, with more food than you'd need for an entire day. It's quite an experience. No wonder 2 out of 3 Americans are overweight. The medically obese population is growing steadily.

I've read studies that show that families which use smaller dinner plates have a lower incidence of obesity. You could draw a corollary that families who eat out often, at restaurants with three-foot diameter dinner plates, must have a higher incidence of obesity. It's amazing how much psychology actually goes into the restaurant-dining experience, and how it can wreck havoc even for health-conscious customers.

A single serving of meat is about the size of a deck of cards. Maybe 8 bites. Restaurants will happily serve you a two-square foot steak, however, to impress you.

- Warren
 
  • #11
Pengwuino
Gold Member
4,989
16
chroot said:
Everyone likes American restaurants. You'll often get a plate twice the size of any plate used in the home, with more food than you'd need for an entire day. It's quite an experience. No wonder 2 out of 3 Americans are overweight. The medically obese population is growing steadily.
I'm all for it as long as the foods good :biggrin:
 
  • #12
253
0
Pengwuino said:
America, home of the 12 pound cheeseburger.
If such a burger realy exist Im gonna be on the first plane to america to claim it. That would be one hell of a meal:approve:

cyrusabdollahi said:
Yes, but in places like that, you don't eat one meal. You have a small appetizer, a small bowl of soup, a small meal and a small desert. I like that method better than one big meal where you get tired of the same flavor.
Poor students have to make sure they get plenty of food for the money:cry:

chroot said:
Everyone likes American restaurants. You'll often get a plate twice the size of any plate used in the home, with more food than you'd need for an entire day. It's quite an experience. No wonder 2 out of 3 Americans are overweight. The medically obese population is growing steadily.

I've read studies that show that families which use smaller dinner plates have a lower incidence of obesity. You could draw a corollary that families who eat out often, at restaurants with three-foot diameter dinner plates, must have a higher incidence of obesity. It's amazing how much psychology actually goes into the restaurant-dining experience, and how it can wreck havoc even for health-conscious customers.

A single serving of meat is about the size of a deck of cards. Maybe 8 bites. Restaurants will happily serve you a two-square foot steak, however, to impress you.

- Warren
Good points. Making it a habit to eat untill your stuffed each meal is horrible. Especialy for kids. I have a hunch that if a kid grows up eating like that he will never be able to be fully satisfied with a avarage sized meal later in life. I know I cant and I was raised just like that. For a meal to leave me satisfied I need to be stuffed. Im glad I workout alot so I can get away with it:biggrin:

I dont se the serving of meat on the resturant as the biggest crock in the meal though. The baked potatoes/white rice/pasta is what does the damage imo. Just switching to brown rice and whole grain pasta would make a world of difference.
 
  • #13
chroot
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
10,226
34
Azael,

You're going to end up fat, then. Just don't stop working out.

And no, switching to brown rice won't make any difference at all. Americans typically already get adequate nutrition (vitamins and minerals) even from their very high-carbohydrate diets. Americans need to reduce macronutrient consumption. Get rid of the rice altogether, and have some green beans.

- Warren
 
  • #14
2,985
15
Get rid of the rice altogether
Every Asian/Middle easterner in here is now :cry:ing. You just reduced our meals to bread.
 
  • #15
JasonRox
Homework Helper
Gold Member
2,314
3
I don't know how you can brag about American restaurants because I don't consider a big plate of fries as something great. If you actually tried food that was geared towards taste, you would appreciate American restaurants a lot less. American restaurants simply pile it up with crap you can whip up at home for half the price. It's absurd.

Fancy restaurants have regular sized portions. When I say fancy, I mean $25-30 a plate at the very least. (Not all you can eat plates.)
 
  • #16
253
0
chroot said:
Azael,

You're going to end up fat, then. Just don't stop working out.

And no, switching to brown rice won't make any difference at all. Americans typically already get adequate nutrition (vitamins and minerals) even from their very high-carbohydrate diets. Americans need to reduce macronutrient consumption. Get rid of the rice altogether, and have some green beans.

- Warren
Fortunaly I have enough self controll most of the time. But nothing beats potatoes and swedish meatballs:cry:

My thought behind the brown rice was the lower GI, not as much the vitamins and minerals. But I guess your right, the avarage american eats to much above maintanace kcal for the lowering of GI to have any big impact. But it would atleast be one small step in preventing the diabetes epedemic.
 
  • #17
2,985
15
So true Jason, so true. TGI fridays is not a resturant, sorry.

Although there are some that are expensive and do give you big portions too! Those places are the best! MMMMM daily grill......
 
  • #18
chroot
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
10,226
34
cyrusabdollahi said:
Every Asian/Middle easterner in here is now :cry:ing. You just reduced our meals to bread.
I didn't intend to say that people should never eat carbohydrates. I was only responding to Azael's post about a meal that included a huge portion of meat, plus rice or potatoes or other carbohydrate-rich food.

Instead of a huge serving of meat PLUS rice, why not make a rice-based dish?

- Warren
 
  • #19
2,985
15
I think if most American's ate the same size portion of food, but of real, home cooked quality food, they would not be so fat. Too much food from cans, freezer dinners and fast food chains that make them fat. Lot's of preservatives and toooooooo much sugar.
 
  • #20
253
0
chroot said:
I didn't intend to say that people should never eat carbohydrates. I was only responding to Azael's post about a meal that included a huge portion of meat, plus rice or potatoes or other carbohydrate-rich food.

Instead of a huge serving of meat PLUS rice, why not make a rice-based dish?

- Warren

Or even better. Just the meat and some veggies and maby a little beans on the side.
 
  • #21
chroot
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
10,226
34
cyrusabdollahi said:
I think if most American's ate the same size portion of food, but of real, home cooked quality food, they would not be so fat. Too much food from cans, freezer dinners and fast food chains that make them fat. Lot's of preservatives and toooooooo much sugar.
Another (sort of) fallacy: if Americans just ate better-quality food, they wouldn't be so fat. It's pretty much not true.

It's true that Americans would be healthier if they ate a more balanced diet -- their livers and hearts and kidneys would have an easier time. However, you cannot beat the basic equation, calories in - calories out = weight gain. If you eat 5000 calories of slop, you'll gain weight. If you eat 5000 calories of perfectly-balanced nutrition bars, you'll gain weight.

Virtually every overweight American is overweight for one, and only one, reason: they eat too much. Portion sizes are the overriding problem. Given that Americans have access to pretty much any type of food they could ever want, the only common factor is that they're eating twice as much as they need. It's a psychological "meme" that has entered and stuck in the collective American dining culture: you didn't really eat a good meal unless you're in physical discomfort afterwards.

- Warren
 
Last edited:
  • #22
2,985
15
Yeah, Im just saying the quality of the food does not help either though.

Hah, look at us.

calories in - calories out = weight gain
1st law of thermo

quality of food
2nd law of thermo, entropy.

Mmmm, thermo.
 
  • #23
Pengwuino
Gold Member
4,989
16
JasonRox said:
I don't know how you can brag about American restaurants because I don't consider a big plate of fries as something great. If you actually tried food that was geared towards taste, you would appreciate American restaurants a lot less. American restaurants simply pile it up with crap you can whip up at home for half the price. It's absurd.
Well if you go to an American restaurant for a big plate of fries, you aren't getting the proper representation of American restaurants.

Reminds me of this one place down near Oakland. It's a small hole in the wall that you would think is a bar if you didn't know better. It's an italian restaurant, better then casual but not really fine dining. The food there is beyond words. Plus they start you off by bringing a huge salad and then they bring you literally, a tub of minestrone. You WISH home-cooking was this good. Then your actual meal is probably going to be some of the better italian food you've ever had in your life yet it's simply a side-note compared to that freaken salad and pot of minestrone (both of which are served as much as you and your guests want and is simply part of the meal, not an option). God im hungry right now.

Oh yah and then they give you some spumoni. My god it's like having sex with a beautiful woman after having won the lottery.
 
Last edited:
  • #24
253
0
Most people value temporary plesure of food alot more than the longlasting pleasure of beeing fit. The avarge joe is just uneducated and lazy and thats why he is fat.

Its sad that so many people are suffering from something that is so easy to get rid of. Even more sad is all the parents teaching there kids all the wrong habits. Nothing is more tragic than a obese child. Parents to obese children should be removed of custody. Its child abuse imo.
 
  • #25
Pengwuino
Gold Member
4,989
16
Azael said:
Most people value temporary plesure of food alot more than the longlasting pleasure of beeing fit. The avarge joe is just uneducated and lazy and thats why he is fat.

Its sad that so many people are suffering from something that is so easy to get rid of. Even more sad is all the parents teaching there kids all the wrong habits. Nothing is more tragic than a obese child. Parents to obese children should be removed of custody. Its child abuse imo.
It's a choice that people make. Everyone seems to forget that there is indeed tremendous satisfaction in good food. What's the compromise? 50 years of incredible food vs. 10 years off your life (and realistically, you could be taking 0 years off if you actually get off your butt and excercise). There doesn't HAVE to be a compromise, it all just needs to balance out.
 

Related Threads on Restaurant food: Healthier vs?

  • Last Post
3
Replies
74
Views
7K
  • Last Post
Replies
9
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
23
Views
3K
Replies
25
Views
4K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
29
Views
4K
Replies
42
Views
4K
Replies
16
Views
1K
Replies
13
Views
3K
Replies
27
Views
3K
Top