By now, we all know that fast food is bad for us. We have books, movies and news reports telling us this almost every day. Most fast food is loaded with calories, saturated fats, sodium and just about anything else our bodies could use less of. Why do some chain restaurants avoid the negative press even though many of their meals are just as high in calories, fat, and sodium?

We tend to view a sit down meal that is delivered by a server to be much more upscale than fast food and, therefore, healthier. The truth is that many meals ordered at these restaurants contain more than 100 grams of fat and 1,000 calories, and that does not even include appetizers or dessert. These restaurants want you to enjoy the taste of their food so you will come back again and again.

Nutrition facts are rarely provided at the dining establishment. However, many of these restaurant chains provide this information on their websites. The best thing to do would be to take a look at their menu on the website and decide what you will be ordering before you leave. Don't even bother looking at the menu when you get to the restaurant, this may lead to a last second switch in your order.

Take a look at the following meal at a popular Italian restaurant in Ahwatukee Foothills: lobster ravioli, house salad and bread. Your totals would be 1,600 calories, 100 grams of fat and 3,500 milligrams of sodium. This information is available on their website. It may make sense to order this meal if you split it with two friend. That is a day's worth of nutrients for many people and does not include dessert. It is fun to eat out and spend time with friends and family. Just arm yourself with this knowledge before you go out and save yourself hundreds of calories a month.

Michael Murphy is a registered dietitian and has lived in Ahwatukee Foothills for 10 years. Reach him at (480) 215-4458.


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