Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Health Library Home>Wellness Centers>Food & Nutrition>Article

Eating Out: Good for the Tastebuds, Bad for the Waistline

rerun image Studies are confirming what you already knew. "Check, please" are two of the most fattening words in the English language. The more often you eat food prepared away from home, the more calories you consume, the less healthful the meals, and the heavier you become.

We're Eating Out Too Often

Once upon a time, overdoing it when eating away from home did not present much of a problem, because dining out was a rare event. Now, many people eat out or buy prepared food on a daily basis.

Eating out was once reserved for special events. As a result, many of us still view of eating out as an opportunity to splurge. But the more we eat out and splurge, the more those calories add up.

Portion Sizes Play a Role

Indeed, restaurant portions are even bigger than they were in the days when Mom wore a corsage to her Mother's Day meal at the local upscale family restaurant. Both plate size and portion size have steadily increased.

It is often said that restaurants are to blame for the ever larger portions and should shoulder some of the responsibility for helping people eat less, perhaps by serving smaller servings for less money. However, consumers equate volume with value, which makes it difficult for competitive restaurants to serve less food.

Tips for the Restaurant-goer

So what's a calorie-conscious restaurant diner to do? After all, it is not easy for many people to stop eating if they are full but there's still food left on the plate.

Some tips for dining out include:


Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

US Department of Agriculture


Canadian Diabetes Association

Dietitians of Canada


Bielemann RM, Motta JV, Minten GC, Horta BL, Gigante DP. Consumption of ultra-processed foods and their impact on the diet of young adults. Rev Saude Publica. 2015;49:28.

Condrasky M, Ledikwe JH, Flood JE, Rolls BJ. Chefs’ opinions of restaurant portion sizes. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007;15(8):2086-2094.

McCrory MA, Fuss PJ, Saltzman E, Roberts SB. Dietary determinants of energy intake and weight regulation in healthy adults. J Nutr. 2000;130(2S Suppl):276S-279S.

Ordering your meal. American Heart Association website. Available at: Updated March 15, 2017. Accessed July 13, 2017.

Last reviewed July 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP  Last Updated: 7/13/2017