Sunday, June 7, 2009

Beware! Restaurant portion sizes are increasing again. Who are the culprits and what can you do about it?

If you are on a weight loss program or have already established a lifestyle of healthy eating for yourself, you know that the last place you want to go is one of the many "sit-down" chain restaurants that litter our strip malls, airports, and other commercial centers. But that simple truth is more important now than ever. This article I found online indicates that these so-called family restaurants are now scaling up their portion sizes even further, thus putting more calories into each meal, in order to lure us into eating out again despite the condition of the economy. The article also names the culprits and suggests ways to avoid the traps.

A representative of these restaurants claims that, as a consumer-driven business, they're just giving us what we want. And sadly, for many Americans, that is, in fact, true. You see, here in the states we've learned to equate quantity with value. If we go to The Cheesecake Chili Garden and pay $12.99 for the Ultra-Chili-Cheese-Macaroni-Hoagie-Deluxe, and suddenly we are given 30% more at no extra cost, we suddenly say, "Oooooh, now THAT'S a good deal!" And then we are more likely to not only buy it, but come back and buy it again another time, naively thinking that in these tough times when money is tight, we need to make every penny count.

But the reality is, we all pay for our unhealthy habits in the end. If we perceive that we are saving money by eating these huge, unhealthy meals made with questionable ingredients, we eventually suffer declining health in some form or another (obesity and heart disease come to mind), and we see that "savings" ripped out of our bank accounts (and then some) to pay the cost of medical bills and expensive weight loss programs.

So don't be "that person" who keeps these chain restaurants in business. Instead, eat at local establishments that use healthy ingredients and don't emphasize quantity over quality. If you're faced with a portion that you know is too big for you, split it in half before you even start eating it, ask for a take-out box for the half you won't eat, put it in the box, and forget about it for the rest of the meal. You can always eat that other half the next day.

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