Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Most People Ignore Nutrition When Dining Out

For many of us, going out for dinner is a treat - a once in a while occasion that usually spells indulgence. But even for those who are looking for lighter fare or healthier alternatives when dining out, intentions don't always translate into actions once it's time to order. According to a new consumer report, only 25% of consumers actually consider nutrition and go for healthy options when eating out.

The 2010 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report was designed to inform restaurants, manufacturers, and suppliers as to where consumer preferences lie, so they can better cater to their needs. So basically, the report found that 75% of people disregard the healthy options (whether intentionally or otherwise) when dining out, which means that the industry will keep giving them what they want! According to those consumers who actually went for the 'healthier' options, about one fifth reported that the food didn't taste all that great and they were often disappointed.

The report goes on to say that while there is a big push these days to choose healthier options at mealtimes, intentions don't usually pan out while eating out. I guess this all goes back to the reason why people choose to eat out in the first place. If you look at it in the perspective of 'indulgence and relaxation' then yes, you will likely select something you don't usually eat on the regular, something you don't or can't make at home, and you treat yourself. Also, there's steadfast evidence showing that who we eat with influences what we end up eating. So, if your friends order sharing plates like nachos or dips, or more indulgent dishes like creamy pastas or burgers, it's often difficult not to follow suit or resist sneaking a few chips in that you initially had no intention of eating.

My advice: if you're being really careful and can't blow your diet - stay away from restaurants all together or implement some iron-clad will power. But, more realistically, being that it's the Holiday season starting now through to January, Christmas parties will be in full swing and restaurants will likely be unavoidable. In that case, do yourself a favour and order a salad with the dressing on the side, without all the bells and whistles that add calories. Chances are there will be alcohol and finger foods involved anyways, so going for a salad really isn't that much of a sacrifice!