3 things to consider when eating out

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Here, Expert dietician Wendy Lord helps you stay on track while still enjoying a night out.

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Here's what to look out for:

Portion size:

Portion control is important for weight control and health. Too much of anything, even something healthy, can ruin a perfectly healthy diet. The portions of take away meals are normally too big, often containing as much as a full day’s worth of calories in one meal.

The average meal should contain about a fist-size portion of starch, a palm-size portion of protein and plenty of vegetables. If for example you buy a burger and fries, you may be eating 2 to 4 times more starch, more than double the protein and no vegetables. This is a very unbalanced meal.

Fat content:

Frying is quick and easy – exactly what you want in a fast food outlet. However, frying is also the most unhealthy way to cook food due to the amount of extra fat that is added to the food in the cooking process. Go for grilled, baked, steamed or boiled options, rather than fried. Fat is also added in the form of salad dressings, sauces (such as cheese or mushroom sauce) and mayonnaise. Some vegetable dishes are often made with cream and/or cheese to make them more appealing. The fattier sources of protein are also cheaper, for example chicken wings, ribs and fatty mince.

Carbohydrates:

White bread rolls and fries are probably the most common starchy foods on the menu at fast food restaurants. Neither of them contain much fibre and they have a high GI, so they are digested quickly and the sugar released rapidly into the blood, resulting in a rapid rise in blood sugar and a massive insulin response, which in the long term can result in weight gain and insulin resistance. Carbohydrate portions are also normally very big. A single small bread roll or a fist-size portion of fries is considered to be an average portion.

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