Most meals at American restaurants aren’t healthy. They’re packed with processed food and enough calories to cover two or three sensible meals.
Yet it’s entirely possible to eat both healthy and tasty restaurant meals. And because eating out is one of life’s great pleasures, we’ve put together this guide to smart restaurant eating. It ranges from undeniably healthy meals — with a rich variety of foods, heavy on fruits and vegetables, light on sugar — to fast-food meals that are at least better than the alternatives if you find yourself eating at McDonald's.
Every lunch or dinner here stays under 750 calories — about one-third the number many adults should eat in a day — and many meals are well under; the breakfasts are under 500 calories. We’ll start with some good news: The restaurant scene has never been better.
Don’t be confused by Chipotle, Five Guys and other hot chains, which serve tastier food than McDonald’s but still don’t focus on health. There’s another, albeit smaller, rising group of restaurants with menus that are both tasty and healthy.
These chains include Chop’t, Lyfe Kitchen, Maoz Vegetarian, Modmarket and Native Foods Cafe. At these, you can often eat a meal that has a reasonable number of calories, and a nice array of nutrients, without thinking too hard. Sweetgreen, which makes the grain bowl you see above, got its start in Washington, from three Georgetown students frustrated by the existing restaurant scene.
We expect these kinds of restaurants will continue spreading, perhaps beyond the largest metro areas, as more Americans look for ways to eat right. Something to watch: Will Middle Eastern food, which is often packed with flavor, fresh ingredients and whole grains, go mainstream?
This article is by Josh Barro, Claire Cain Miller, Darcy Eveleigh, David Leonhardt, Matt Ruby and Rumsey Taylor.
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