Poll Results: How many meals do you eat in a restaurant each week (including takeout)?

by | Aug 14, 2008

Thanks to everyone who voted in this week’s poll. Here are the results:

7: 11%

n = 9

It looks like most of you eat out less than four times per week (77%), and I’m really happy to see that so many of you eat out less than twice. It is much more difficult to eat healthfully if you are eating out on a regular basis.

Why?

First, portion sizes at restaurants tend to be much, much larger than any person needs to eat. This is a problem because most people will eat whatever they are served, using environmental cues (like the amount of food you are given) to decided when to stop eating. So the first problem is too many calories.

Second, restaurants usually care more about your taste buds than your cancer risk. This is fine of course, but it means that even “healthy” foods like vegetables will frequently be accompanied by butter, cream, cheese or some other rich condiment to make them taste better. Such practices would not be a problem (in fact, this is one of the reasons restaurants can be so fun) if reason number one weren’t true. Having a little butter or cheese isn’t an issue. It is when they are served in giant, American-sized portions that you should start to worry.

This is one of the sad truths about how American life has evolved, that somehow along the way we lost the eating culture of our ancestors and it is now culturally acceptable to gorge ourselves on rich, decadent foods. It is as though we have forgotten why these foods were considered special to begin with.

In my experience, it is best to keep restaurant attendance to a minimum because the culture is too hard to fight. That being said, I absolutely love restaurants and revel in the opportunity to be dazzled by a culinary artist. For this reason I try to make restaurants a rare treat and prefer those that are exquisite (paying more money for a better experience).

But even I find myself in more casual dining venues on occasion. At these times I find the best option is to share. One appetizer and one entree is generally enough for me (tiny female) and a high-metabolism male. This is definitely a break from our cultural norm, but to be healthy it is exactly our culture–not our will power–that needs a makeover.

What is your opinion on American restaurants and food culture?

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4 Responses to “Poll Results: How many meals do you eat in a restaurant each week (including takeout)?”

  1. Jed Wolpaw says:

    One appetizer and one entree is enough for you AND a high metabolism male? Impossible, my dear, impossible. The rest of that sentence must have gotten cut off. Maybe it was meant to read: “One appetizer and one entree are generally enough for me (tiny female) and a high metabolism male…can have some of mine while also having his two appetizers and large entree with dessert and a side of asparagus”

  2. Darya Pino says:

    Jed:Ah, you must eat at those few enlightened establishments that have instituted reasonable portion sizes. I was referring to the type of eatery where an appetizer alone could feed a family of 4.That being said, when I wrote this post I almost added a sentence about how the most difficult part of sharing a meal is getting the boy to realize he doesn’t need to eat so much, but I thought better of it. However I am sticking to my argument that it is our culture (rather than our biology) that leads men to believe they need to eat copious amounts of food, especially meat.

  3. Michael Phelps says:

    I scoff at your caloric restrictions! I am a god, who can consume more than you can possibly comprehend. Displease me and I will send my watery minions to destroy you (if you enter the ocean. Mighty Poseidon has his limits)!

  4. Dahlia says:

    Well written article.

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