Fast Food vs. Sit Down Restaurants. Which is Better?

Fast food gets a bad rap!  We seem to be constantly bombarded with messages telling us to avoid this quick option, but recent research suggests that it may just be a convenient scapegoat.  According to a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition

“Dining out at a sit-down restaurant can mean far more sodium in your diet— and nearly as much saturated fat — as eating at a fast-food joint…What’s more, people consumed more calories when they sat down for their meal at a full-service place rather than taking it to go…”

While this study has been making jaw-dropping headlines, what the headlines may not be stressing is the importance of making the best choices wherever you may be dining.  The growing availability of nutrition information at restaurants big and small makes it even easier to do just that.  Ruopeng An, the author of the study, recently pointed out to NPR’s The Salt that the upcoming menu labeling requirements are an opportunity for diners.  These regulations, which will require the posting of calories and the availability of other nutrition information in many restaurants nationwide, will help diners to make more informed choices when eating out at restaurants, fast food or sit down.

Many consumers categorize restaurants into “healthy” and “unhealthy,” but this surprising study highlights that this generalization may be negatively impacting public health.  Honing in on menu choices themselves, regardless of the restaurant, can be a much more effective strategy for making the best choices.  Focusing on lean proteins, whole grains, vegetables and fruits as well as reviewing available nutrition information and asking questions about preparations are good strategies for eating out.

How do you make the best choices for yourself, fast food to fine dining?