These ‘Healthy’ Restaurant Orders Are Worse for You Than You Think Slideshow
March 6, 2017
Is your ‘diet-friendly’ choice setting you up for a diet disaster?
These ‘Healthy’ Restaurant Orders Are Worse for You Than You Think
Not everything served at restaurants is bad for you. Though we’re often told that going out to eat is detrimental to our health, the actual food being served is often flavorful and nutritious. Some options, however, are more nutritious than others.
Restaurants have learned to market their meals as healthier. Calorie counts have taken center stage in the restaurant industry and many chains now feature a separately listed menu of “lighter” options. You can probably guess the types of meals that make it on those diet-friendly suggestions: Grilled fish, low-carb options, and whole-wheat sandwiches are some of the more popular dishes that make the cut.
But are these menu options really the best ones for you? Chefs and menu designers are far from being nutritionists. Often, they devise these menus simply by deciding upon a calorie cutoff, a cap beyond which they decided a healthy meal shouldn’t venture. However, high-calorie does not always mean unhealthy. Some of the healthiest meals are high in calories and nutrient-dense. It’s the meals low in nutrients that you really want to watch out for. That’s what makes these 15 “healthy” menu items an unhealthier choice.
If you’re making your own cauliflower pizza crust, you can keep it low-cal and free of additives. But once you order out, you relinquish all control over the recipe for that crust. How much of the crust is really cauliflower? Restaurants have full liberty to fluff up their crusts with egg, cheese, oil, and artificial emulsifiers to maintain the structure and texture of other breaded crust.
Chinese Chicken and Broccoli
Sure, it’s got broccoli. But that broccoli and chicken is being drowned in sugary, sticky sauce most of the time. The sauce is the least nutritious part of your meal. By eliminating the rice and upping the percentage of your calories that come from oil and sugar, you’re detracting from your otherwise healthy Chinese food order. Here are some of the best and worst options at any Chinese restaurant.
Some establishments make low-sugar and nutritious juices from simple ingredients. Others, however, use so many pieces of fruit and so few vegetables or other greens that what you end up with is a cool, tall glass of sugar. You’d be better off eating the dozen pieces of fruit — at least then, you’ll be loading up on fiber.
Egg White Omelette
Egg whites aren’t that much better for you than regular eggs. Studies show that one to two egg yolks per day have a negligible effect on your cholesterol. Additionally, egg yolks contain healthy fats, rare nutrients like choline, and other compounds your body craves with its meal. While egg whites are a low-cal alternative, they’re also low in satisfying healthy fats, meaning you’re destined to be hungry and crave high-fat foods once your meal is over.
These “miniature” pizza-like foods aren’t usually very small — and they’re often served as appetizers. If you’re ordering a flatbread to share before your meal, you’re basically eating an entire slice of pizza before your entrée arrives.
Somewhere, underneath all those breadcrumbs and oils, is a vegetable. But by eating these fries — which are often served with a side of oily dip or mayo — you’re not just eating your veggies. You’re also consuming everything that’s caloric about normal French fries. They may be low-carb, but they are certainly not low-cal.
Did the menu specify what exactly they’re poaching their fish in? Yeah, didn’t think so. Many restaurants serving poached fish are actually poaching their fish in lard.
“I’ll just have the salad,” said every woman on a diet ever. Ladies, go ahead and order something else. The salad’s usually not the healthiest choice on the menu. Some salads are too skimpy to give you enough nutrition to constitute a meal — we’re looking at you, grilled chicken with dressing on the side. Others are parading as nutritious salads but actually have just as few vegetables and as many carbs as any other meal. Take your typical Chinese chicken salad, for example. They have the least nutritious vegetable ever as the base — iceberg lettuce. Then, they’re covered in wonton crisps and oily dressing. Might as well have eaten the fried rice!
Side of Spinach
They are a serving of spinach. And spinach is really good for you. However, you’re probably not thinking about all the oil that’s retained during the cooking of that vegetable. You do need some fats with your meal, so don’t fret too much. But keep in mind that your spinach side may not be a low-calorie choice, despite how nutritious it is.
Many restaurants, such as Panera, sell smoothies as a drink option. A smoothie is more reasonably served as a meal and should involve more ingredients than just tons and tons of fruit. Smoothies served at most places are high in sugar, involve even more added sugar, and are low in protein and healthy fat.
The pieces may be small, but sushi restaurants pack a whole lot into those bite-sized servings. It’s all too easy to overeat sushi — especially if you’re taking the “all you can eat” route — and end up gorging on heaps of white rice and sodium. There’s nothing wrong with white rice and seafood, of course. But sushi isn’t the skimpy, diet-friendly meal many think it is.
Sweet Potato Fries
Unlike white potatoes, sweet potatoes are a slow-digesting carbohydrate. That means they’re better at keeping your blood sugar stable than their starchy counterparts. However, sweet potato fries are still exactly that — fries. Chowing down on a plate of these crispy appetizers is not the same thing as eating a nourishing serving of roasted sweet potatoes. These are deep-fried and often dipped in some fatty condiment.
The classic combo of a pile of deli meat, a slice of cheese, and a wimpy leaf of wilted lettuce might taste like it’s got to be healthy for you. Why else would it be so bland? But it’s not really the best option at any sandwich shop. Deli meat is often processed and filled with sodium, as is American-style cheese. The white bread on your sandwich isn’t offering much in terms of nutrition, and the attempt at adding vegetables to this meal is halfhearted at best.
Want to be hungry 10 minutes after you’ve finished your meal? Order a veggie wrap. By skimping on the meat in other wrap options on the menu, all you’re really doing is cheating yourself of protein. Most veggie wraps are a compilation of crunchy vegetables, hummus, and a tortilla. That sounds more like a snack to us — very few healthy fats or protein to keep you satisfied.
Whether we realize it or not, all of us think burgers are bad for our health. How many portraits of an American clutching a greasy burger have you seen on anti-obesity campaigns? So when we’re at a burger joint, we gravitate towards believing the veggie burger — whatever that may be — is better for us than the normal meaty sandwich. In some cases, this is true, and the burger is unprocessed and filled with fibrous foods like beans and quinoa. However, many veggie burgers are overly processed and lacking nutrition. What you end up with is a bunch of chemicals and artificiality stuffed between white bread buns. You might as well have just allowed yourself the delicious, savory burger. You might be missing out on some of the best burgers in America, for all you know.