We’ve often been told that the longer we take at a meal, the more likely we’ll eat healthier, but new research is calling that into question when we eat out. A study has found that we might eat healthier when eating fast food than when eating at a restaurant, according to an LA Times article.
The University of Illinois-based study looked at data from over 18,000 people who participated in the seven-year-long National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. Researchers paid attention to calorie intake from either a wait-staff-served restaurant or a fast food dining spot. While both options added fat and cholesterol to participants’ diets, eating at a full-fledged restaurant added a whopping 58 mg of cholesterol and 412 mg of sodium a day, while eating at a fast food restaurant only added 10 mg of cholesterol and 297 mg of sodium per day.
Study author Ruopeng An, assistant professor at the University of Illinois, says this may be because of suggestive selling from waitstaff at a restaurant (“Any dessert tonight?”). Also, if people know they’re going out to a restaurant for dinner, they may save their appetite throughout the day so they can gorge on a nice meal out.
Still, these findings don’t suggest that eating a fast food diet is a healthy option. Rather, such findings show that it helps to be aware that a bigger dinner bill doesn’t necessarily mean you’re eating a healthier meal. Armed with this knowledge, you can choose to indulge in moderation when you eat at a restaurant, perhaps forgoing an hors d’oeuvre for a healthy salad, or splitting dessert with a friend if you elect for dessert.