If you eat out in the US, you should probably start training yourself immediately to ignore Mom’s advice from days of old to ‘clean your plate’. If you eat everything they bring you, not only will you be uncomfortable for hours after having overeaten, you will be risking your future health.
Every year the Center for Science in the Public Interest gives out awards for the most unhealthy meals found in chain restaurant menus from around the nation. You can read the details here. They warn us about meals at the Cheesecake Factory that clock in at 2500 calories. That would be more calories than a person should eat in a day and does not include the calories in a sweet drink or the ‘appetizer’ you may eat while you wait for your meal to arrive. I doubt that very many people actually eat all of one of these meals at a single sitting. I frequently get an entree and then take about half of it home for lunch the following day. I do get the appetizer, though, and sometimes a sweet Coke, and maybe a dessert to share with my sweetie after dinner. I may get 2000 calories from a restaurant meal, more often than not.
Calories aren’t everything, though. As I explained in a previous post, if a person wants to evaluate everything through the calorie lens, then some very healthful foods can look unhealthy. Fresh fruits and vegetables all contain lots of calories, and if you prepare them with a fat like butter they don’t become any less healthy, but they take on more calories.
All Calories Are Not Equal. Eating 3000 calories in a single meal is probably going to have lots of bad for you ingredients in it. The worst thing about the big Cheesecake Factory dinner, in my opinion, would not be the volume of food or the number of calories, but the quantity of unidentified artificial ingredients that it is sure to use. Any dinner at the Cheesecake Factory is bound to be just like opening a box or bag of processed food at home and eating that. Corporate America is not about anything but profit, and the big restaurant chains can’t return ‘value’ to their investors if they use actual foods, so they cut every corner that they can to do that.
I don’t eat at chain restaurants very often. When I do though, I don’t try to clean my plate, and take home everything that is more than I would normally eat, or I throw it away. The damage to the planet is far less significant than the damage to my health and wellness of trying to eat it all.