If your New Year’s goals involve losing weight and saving money, we’ve got great news for you. You can do both at the same time by following this simple piece of advice: Avoid eating out!
Some meals contain enough calories for the entire day
In a recent Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics study, Tufts University researcher Lorien Urban, along with her co-authors, discovered the real calorie content of over 360 dinner entrees at 123 non-chain restaurants in San Francisco, Boston and Little Rock between 2011 and 2014.
Their findings? Most restaurant dishes contained 1,200 calories on average! American, Italian and Chinese meals had the most calories — with an average of about 1,500 calories per meal. For a moderately active adult, the USDA recommends 1,800 – 2,600 calories per day, depending on age and gender.
Types of restaurants that had less calories in their entrees included Greek, Japanese, Vietnamese, Mexican and Thai, but 92% of the dishes inspected exceeded suggested calorie intake for a single sitting.
2,780 calorie French toast
Another look at restaurant food by the Center for Science in the Public Interest in 2014 discovered some big offenders when it came to calories for their Xtreme Eating Awards.
Though this was a less scientific study, it definitely highlighted the worst when it came to calories — including the ‘bruléed French toast’ from the Cheesecake factory — a whopping 2,780 calorieâ€‹s! In addition, it contained about a week’s worth of saturated fat, and four times the recommended daily intake of sugar.
Though the dishes highlighted in the Xtreme Eating Awards were outliers, the extreme calorie counts definitely give reason to pause and consider what we might be eating when we consider restaurant fare.
Read more: 19 great resources to help you eat better!
People eat up to 40% less at home than they would eating out
The study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also found that people eat 20% to 40% more calories when they eat out, compared with when they eat at home. The authors of the study cited eating out as ‘an important contributor to the increase in energy intake since 1970.’
There is no doubt the increase of people going out to eat and the ease of doing so corresponds with the increase in obesity over the last several decades.
According to the CDC, obesity in the U.S. has more than doubled over the last 30 years, with some of the highest obesity rates in the world.
Eating out can eat up your savings potential
A study by SunTrust last year found that people are not saving as much as they should.
Among households who make $75,000 or more annually, one-third live paycheck to paycheck, and 44% said lifestyle purchases, such as dining out and entertainment, were big hindrances to saving. Among millennials bringing home $75,000 or more, 71% confessed these expenses were stealing their savings.
So if you want to reduce the size of your waistline and increase the size of your wallet, opting to eat at home more often might be one of the best (and easiest) changes you can make!