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16 Secrets the Restaurant Industry Doesn't Want You to Know

restaurant, industry, secretsTwo Men’s Health columnists have uncovered some dirty little secrets that the restaurant industry would rather keep quiet. In some cases, the true contents of what’s put into your meals at restaurants (both fast-food and sit-down) are shocking. In others, the information could not even be drawn out of corporate employees.

How can a restaurant hide the nutritional facts of its food? Because of The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990. This legislation says that fast-food and chain restaurants are not required to provide calorie, fat, or sodium information for any of their menu items unless they describe them as “low sodium” or “low fat.”

Not surprisingly, many of the restaurants took advantage of this protection and kept their nutrition facts to themselves. Here is just a sampling of the secrets the restaurant industry has been keeping (you can click the link below to find out all 16).

1. Arby’s “100 percent all-natural chicken” contains artificial flavoring, and its “all-natural smoothies” may contain high-fructose corn syrup.

2. An order of Aussie Cheese Fries at Outback Steakhouse has 2,900 calories.

3. Hooters wouldn’t disclose any nutritional facts about their food, but investigation revealed that its wing sauce contains partially hydrogenated margarine, maltodextrin, propylene glycol alginate, xanthan gum and other additives.

4. A medium-size fruit-and-yogurt smoothie from Dunkin’ Donuts has more than four times the sugar in a chocolate-frosted cake doughnut.

5. Pastries at Panera Bread contain synthetic food colorings that have been linked to irritability, restlessness, and sleep disturbance in children.

6. A large order of pasta at Maggiano’s contains two pounds of noodles.

7. The top four ingredients in Baskin Robbins’ Blue Raspberry Fruit Blast are Sierra Mist soda, water, sugar and corn syrup.

8. The French toast sticks at Burger King go into the same fryer as the pork sausage, pork fritters, Chicken Tenders, chicken fries, Big Fish patties, hash browns, onion rings, and Cheesy Tots -- and all of these contain harmful trans fats.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
In 2006, the average U.S. household spent close to HALF of its food budget on meals eaten away from home, according to The Survey of Consumer Expenditures for 2006, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Meanwhile, less than one-third of American households make meals from scratch, according to a 2006 survey by the Institute of Food Technologists.

This means that out of the fewer than HALF of meals that you do eat at home, many of these are likely NOT homemade, but rather consist of processed, packaged, and pre-prepared foods purchased from your supermarket.

Folks, this is a real recipe for disaster.

As this Men’s Health investigation found out, many restaurants will not even reveal what’s in their food, which has to make you wonder what they’re trying to hide.

If that wasn’t bad enough, 90 percent of all the money Americans spend on food is for highly processed, non-nutritious food

How can you possibly expect anything other than to get sick when you aren’t giving your body the major fuel it requires to stay healthy? This is not much different from neglecting your car by pouring in fuel that won’t burn well and is contaminated with many nasty ingredients that plug up the engine.

Would you be surprised if your car did not run properly under these circumstances? Of course not. Then it should come as no surprise that you will not achieve high-level health unless you make a conscious effort to choose foods that are healthy for you. Yes, it takes more time and energy, but the results are clearly worth it in the long run.

When you eat out you can pretty much guarantee that there will be artificial ingredients of some kind in your food. You can also bet on the fact that your meal will NOT come from free-range, grass-fed, locally grown, or organic sources (unless you find a specialty restaurant that caters to that).

You will likely also eat MORE than you would at home, and will certainly be doused with more sugar and, likely, trans fats as well.

Just about ANY food that you prepare at home will be better for you than its counterpart eaten out.

Yes, there are exceptions to this rule, but take, for example, a raw strawberry milkshake. You can make one of these at home in just a few minutes, using raw milk, raw honey, an organic egg and some strawberries.

Now, take the fast-food version. Would you believe that in a fast-food strawberry milkshake there are 59 different ingredients? And none of them are strawberries? Well, it’s true.

Preparing Healthy Meals at Home

Regular newsletter readers know that preparing food at home is one of the keys to staying healthy.

My major rule in this area is that if you fail to plan your meals you are planning to fail. You simply must be proactive and determine what your menu will be a few days to a few weeks out.

Remember, most Americans spend 90 percent of their food budget on PROCESSED foods. To be healthy, you need to reverse this and spend 90 percent on fresh, whole foods.

You also need to devote some serious time in the kitchen, preparing these foods for your family.

I realize that this isn’t always convenient, and, yes, it is easier to just pick up fast food. But your body simply cannot thrive off of this processed garbage.

Your body needs real food, and once you switch your diet to primarily home-cooked meals, you will realize just how artificial restaurant food really is.

My newest book, Take Control of Your Health, has an entire chapter devoted to tips for planning your meals and eating healthy, even with a busy lifestyle. You can also read How to Cook Whole Food From Scratch--and Keep Your Day Job! for more tips.

Folks, it takes a bit of planning and a lot of commitment to prepare food from scratch. But doing so could:
  • Add years to your lifespan
  • Give you more energy than you know what to do with
  • Help you avoid cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis
And if there’s anything worth putting a little bit of time and effort into, surely it is your, and your family’s, current and future health.

+ Sources and References