January 04, 2019
For health fanatics and foodies alike, restaurant menus can be a minefield. Many of the dishes you might consider at a traditional restaurant, café, or fast food joint are far from healthy. With highly caloric add-ons like dressing and toppings, salads aren’t even necessarily a safe bet anymore.
To avoid ordering something you might later regret, it helps to be aware of the major ingredients and menu items that could pose a threat to your health and your waistline.
As a basic rule of thumb, fried foods should generally be avoided if you’re trying to lose weight or improve your cardiovascular health. Everything from chicken to fish to cheese instantly takes on excess calories when fried in fatty oil. In addition, these foods are also typically coated in batter or flour before they are fried, adding yet another dose of fat and calories to the resulting dish.
Though they might seem harmless, these extra ingredients add up. For example, a 100-gram filet of cod contains 105 calories and one gram of fat when baked. When that same piece of fish is fried, however, it clocks in at 232 calories and a whopping 12 grams of fat. Even though foods like fish are considered to be heart healthy, when it comes to fried fare of any kind, it’s best to opt for the grilled or baked varieties instead.
Hamburgers, especially when topped with cheese or bacon, have been known to have negative consequences for your health, including weight gain, elevated cholesterol levels, and an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.
Pasta dishes tend to be heavy on the fat and calories, especially if the sauce is cream-based. The combination of carbohydrates, fat, and sodium can send your blood pressure through the roof and increase your chances for obesity and diabetes. Skipping the daily pasta special is also a good idea if you seek a meal that contains only the freshest ingredients. In the restaurant world, today’s surplus ingredients that haven’t yet expired often find their way into tomorrow’s dinner special. Almost anything can be disguised with a good sauce, so be sure to order dishes that rely more on fresh ingredients, like local fruits and vegetables, and less on heavy, salt-laden sauces.
While splurging on a decadent meal every now and then won’t dramatically affect your health and well-being, it’s important to keep your nutrition a top priority. Consulting a trained dietician is a great way to uncover facts about food that you never knew, and can keep you on track to reach and maintain your health goals, whatever they may be.