Virtually no meal at any restaurant is healthy, says science

Illustration for article titled Virtually no meal at any restaurant is healthy, says science
Photo: villagemoon (iStock)

Trying to “eat healthy” out on the town? Give it up. A new study of American eating habits over a span of 13 years has concluded that only 0.1% of meals at restaurants, fast food or otherwise, are actually good for you. In other words: Quit agonizing over the menu and just order the damn steak frites!

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The study synthesized answers from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys between the years 2003 and 2016. Over 35,000 Americans reported their most recent meals and where they ate them. Overall, the study found that in that time, Americans consumed 21% of their calories at restaurants. That’s about four or five meals per week, assuming one eats three meals a day. The real kicker came when nutrition scientists held that data next to the American Heart Association’s healthy diet guidelines. They found that 70% of meals consumed at fast food restaurants were “unhealthy” by those AHA standards, and 50% of meals at full-service eateries were, too. Indeed, only 0.1% of meals eaten at restaurants were actually, actively healthy. So, you know, none.

Frankly, this is a relief. Now that I know pretty much no menu item will benefit me, I can officially put my should I order the salmon? guilt to rest. The only real way to control our diets and eat healthier, the study suggests, is by cooking our own meals at home. The nutritionists recommend adding more whole grains, legumes, fish, fruits, and vegetables to our diets, ingredients that are tough to come by in many fast or full-service restaurants. That said, this analysis was done by Tufts University, an institution that allowed me to eat “party waffles” (waffles with M&Ms in the batter, topped with ice cream and various syrups) for four years. So who the fuck are they to tell me to eat healthier?

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DISCUSSION

The only real way to control our diets and eat healthier, the study suggests, is by cooking our own meals at home.

yep. and if you stick to a reasonably healthy diet, eating a junky meal once in a while isn’t going to hurt you.

I mean, look at how long people live eating nothing but junk. Our bodies aren’t that fragile.