Here is where I share my thoughts, ideas and opinions about the world of nutrition, food and health. I hope you find good sense, helpful guidance and inspiration to eat great healthy food that makes you feel good.

I write regularly for GI News, an online newsletter for 60,000+ Australasian and International subscribers interested in the glycemic index (GI) and associated health topics such as diabetes, weight loss and a healthy heart. It’s a great read.


23 Nov 2015

Down sides of eating out

Posted by Nicole Senior on Monday, November 23, 2015

I was fortunate enough to take a week’s holiday with my family recently. It was a delightful location with a very relaxing vibe and the weather was lovely. We stayed in an apartment with a kitchen so we were able to self-cater. This was great as we could by food from the local shops. This is good on many levels, not least of which the money is you save compared to eating out. But as chief cook in our family, I was rather looking forward to taking time off from the dinner shift so we ate out for five nights in a row. This is very unusual for us but it taught me a lot about how difficult it is to eat well when you rely on restaurant meals. In short, it was fun but by the end of the week my clothes felt a little tighter- I wouldn’t like eat this way any more than a week! I reckon I’ve summed up the reasons why I came home with a little more holiday baggage than I took with me.

Large portions

Restaurant meals are larger than those you cook yourself. They want to provide the perception of value and cater for the largest appetites so as not to leave diners hungry. It’s a challenge to leave food on your plate, especially when it is very delicious and different to the food you usually eat (there’s novelty value).


It’s no secret chef’s love to season the food they cook, and in order to heighten the taste appeal they use quite a lot of salt and salty ingredients. Restaurant meals are salty as a rule. Eating salty food contributes to fluid retention.


Sure you can order water but restaurants are great at tempting you with a variety of sweetened and alcoholic drinks. It seems almost unnatural to eat out without alcohol; and wine is good for you because of the antioxidants, right? That may be, but alcoholic drinks are also high kilojoules with the multiplier effect of reducing your inhibitions and enhancing your appetite. Odds are you’ll eat more when you drink.

Fewer vegetables

I’m not sure why, but vegetables seem almost an after-thought rather than an essential part of a meal. And then there’s that annoying phenomenon of having to order (and pay for) vegetables separately. There are more salads appearing on restaurant menus, but some way to go before hot vegetables take their rightful place in restaurant meals and menus.

The answer is cooking!

A short holiday is one thing but if you eat out regularly you can minimise these influences by choosing healthy options, smaller sized meals and saying no to wine, but this is hard both logistically and attitudinally. Even if you eat out often, it’s hard to detach from the idea that it’s a special occasion and all healthy rules can be forgotten.

The lesson of this blog is that cooking matters. Cooking is good for you, and cooking helps you manage your weight. Eating out is fun; just keep it to minimum for your health.