Eat Smart · Nutrition

What NOT to Order Eating Out

On a meal plan, how likely are Syracuse University students to dine at a nice restaurant? Perhaps occasionally. These days, students can become so overwhelmingly excited to escape the monotonous dishes served in the dining halls that they decide to overeat or order unhealthy options when eating out. Of course, most students know that when walking into Sliders or Calios, they are not about to indulge in a nutritious meal. However, menus anywhere can be deceiving; the wording of meal descriptions can sugarcoat the actual high-fat, high-caloric, and high-sugar content in them. Fortunately, below is a guide consisting of unhealthy restaurant key words to avoid in order to stay within your daily calorie limit.

Fried Foods

“Battered,” “Crunchy,” Crispy,” “Tempura,” “Golden,” “Breaded,” and “Sizzling” are all nice ways to describe a product fried in oil and/or with an additional carbohydrate-based coating. Keep in mind that many restaurants use partially hydrogenated oils, containing trans fats, in order to reheat and reuse their products several times.

High-Calorie Foods

“Loaded,” “Stuffed,” “Creamy,” “Cheesy,” “Gooey,” “Smothered,” “Melted,” “Rich,” and “Velvety” are all adjectives used to tempt customers and describe some of the most delicious comfort foods. Delve into a dish like this and you can supply yourself with a day’s worth of fat and calories—does it sound tempting now? If you already knew these words meant bad news, quiz yourself on some of the more sophisticated preparation methods below:

Aioli: A fancy word for a flavored mayonnaise

Au gratin: Cooked with butter and/or cream and topped with cheese or breadcrumbs

Carbonara: A sauce that includes cream, eggs, Parmesan cheese, and bacon bits

Stroganoff: Beef, onions, and mushrooms are sautéed in butter and covered in a sour cream sauce

Scampi: In the U.S., this is shrimp cooked in a garlic and butter sauce

Rémoulade: A sauce made of mayonnaise and mustard, capers, gherkins, herbs, and anchovies

High-Sugar Foods

“Teriyaki,” “BBQ,” “Glazed,” “Sticky,” and “Honey-dipped” signal dishes loaded with added sugars. However, many foods such as salad dressings and sauces can contain added sugars in the absence of these words to describe them. Asking the restaurant staff about ingredients or searching the restaurant’s website for a nutritional information guide can help inform customers before choosing the wrong meals.

An excellent example of a misleading meal is The Cheesecake Factory’s 3,000-calorie Bistro Shrimp Pasta. Yes, you heard that right, 3,000 calories, meaning more than the amount of calories most people need in one day. The average consumer probably would not have guessed that a bed of veggie-specked spaghettini, overlaid by a handful of battered, fried shrimp, tossed in basil-garlic-lemon cream sauce could equate to the calorie count of five and a half Big Macs. On the other hand, we can find three buzz words within this single description: “battered,” “fried,” and “cream,” indicating that this is a meal you should very rarely choose.

Eating out is always an exciting venture for college students and ordering an unhealthy dish for a special meal out with friends or family is not a shameful act. The most important message to carry away here is to make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into when ordering a meal of your choosing.

By Allison Milch