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Restaurant Red Flags!

By HealthLife Contributor
Updated: December 10, 2008
We all know not to eat at a place if it's been condemned by Health Department, but what are some other things to watch out for? Whether you're trying to shave a few inches off your waist or you are just looking to eat in a slightly healthier fashion, restaurant food can be problematic in a number of different ways. You didn't cook the food yourself and you might not know much about how it is prepared and this can result in a meal that is richer and a lot less healthy than you originally bargained for. Take a look at some things to watch out for when you're looking to escape the kitchen.


Buffets are places where it's very easy to overeat. There's a lot of variety when it comes to the food, and you might not realize how much you've put onto your plate. You'll also find that because buffets are usually a little more pricey than other restaurant meals, you'll want to "get your money's worth." This doesn't mean that you have to swear off buffets entirely, though. When you hit the buffet tables, take small quantities of a number of different things and periodically stop to see how full you feel.

Fried or Deep Fried

Know what you are getting into when you look at fried food. One school of thought says that frying in vegetable oil is healthier because there is less fat in it, while another says that animal fat gets hotter, resulting in less grease getting in in the first place. Think about what how you feel in this argument, ask the server what they fry in at this location and choose wisely.
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Bernaise Sauce

Bernaise sauce, which gets drizzled on everything from steak to eggs to potatoes tastes very rich, and it is no wonder! Most Bernaise sauce is full of butter and eggs, and most places serving it are quite liberal with how much they put on. However, it is quite good, so if you are still interested, ask them to put it on the side so you can control how much of it you eat.

Au Gratin

Having something "au gratin" means that breadcrumbs have been added in some way. While this is usually not an issue in and of itself, this term does carry connotations of having been buttered or creamed, usually within an inch of its life. Chances are, this is an extremely rich dish, so ask some questions. Remember that if you have a craving for it anyway, that you can always take half of it home.


Stroganoff is a truly tasty dish of ground beef over pasta drenched a rich sauce, and this is one of those dishes that's somewhat problematic. Getting a low-fat stroganoff recipe is difficult, to say the least; one of the sauce ingredients is sour cream, and if you've ever tried to substitute low-fat sour cream for the real stuff, it's disappointing at best. Eat wisely, decide how much you want to eat and stick with it; this is one of those dishes that is hard to resist.
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