Fast Food Versus Restaurants

Is there really a difference between fast food restaurants or sit down dining establishments? They both involve eating foods that you did not cook yourself. Sure, that is so much easier on a busy day, but how do they compare to each other?


For the most part, you can guarantee that the portion sizes are much larger than what you would eat at home when you cook it yourself. Oddly enough, the fast food will provide fewer calories than the sit down restaurant type meal.

Granted, when you go to a fast, casual sit down restaurant, you naturally assume that the food served is healthier than what you could get from a fast food place down the street. Take a sandwich restaurant, you would think that if you follow the commercial and eat at the sandwich shop this is better than that double burger next door.

Comparing The Two

The sandwich has a loaf of bread, roughly 11 to 12 inches long, it is loaded with your choice of toppings. YES! That is the keywords….’Your Choice’. When faced with the option of putting anything you want on the sandwich, how disciplined are you? Most will go down the buffet line of toppings and condiments and choose as many as they are willing to try.

Of course, let’s give this sandwich shop some credit, they have healthy options of breads, they have a huge variety of vegetables. Then you have the condiments, mayonnaise, oil, honey mustard, ranch etc. The employee will squeeze the bottle and squirt the fat laden condiment on the sandwich. Then comes the huge shaker of salt and pepper. People will not generally tell them to stop at a small shake. We say to add salt and pepper, and boy do they!   

The burger joint on the other hand, they know what they put on. It is a set menu. You can request to not have toppings, and this can be done and not cost you anything, nor will it save you anything. If you request an additional amount of something, such as cheese, they charge you for it. That is just business. This is how they make money. They provide what your body is craving and you pay for it.

The burgers is likely cooked on a flat top grill where it sits in its own grease while cooking, then placed on a bun bottom. Condiments are placed on top, then another portion of bun and another burgers with cheese, mayonnaise, ketchup mustard, seasoning and the top of the bun. Don’t forget the french fries! Those yummy strips of potato are dropped into the hot oil and left to soak up that fat, then they are quickly dumped and sprinkled with salt.

So now that our mouths are watering, let’s compare it to a casual sit down restaurant. You are placed at a table, given menus, and spend the next ten minutes trying to determine what you will eat. It is an actual sit down place, that means the food is healthier right? The son orders a burger with fries. It is basically the same scenario.

Burger fried on a flat top grill, potatoes cut into strips and soaked in hot fat then dumped and salted. The burger is on a bun, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard and seasoning added. Sounds the same right? That is because it is. The only difference is that you should be receiving the burger faster at the fast food joint. Why? Because they make some of their food ahead of time and let it sit.

Granted, there is supposed to be a time limit on how long the food is kept. To save money, most restaurants of all sorts do not follow that rule. However, it looks good if the Health inspector comes in and the food is marked with a certain time and date. 

At this same sit down restaurant, you could order a salad. The lettuce may be warm, the vegetables sliced super thin, and the dressing looks dried out. The croutons were likely made last week, but again to save money, we keep them on the shelf  to be used.

What is the Problem?

In today’s world, obesity is a problem. Not enough people are as active as generations used to be. The electronics keep us sitting down, hardly moving, unless we are jumping for food during a break. Which simply means that more people need to be watching what they eat.

Those Sandwich shops boast about healthier eating available. In reality, those places are loaded with saturated fats and more sodium than is recommended.

One study that had been performed by Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, you consume roughly 200 more calories per meal when you sit down at a casual restaurant versus ordering at a fast food place. This can go to show that Counting Calories is not always the way to go. If you consider that an order of small french fries is 220 calories, but a salad  that would be considered a main dish for dinner is 235 calories, that does not include any dressing at all.

It may appear that a salad would be less in calories, and you actually have a larger amount that you would be eating. Salad with greens and vegetables is certainly a healthier option, as it would eliminate the red meat and the saturated fat. Which would bring us to portions.

Portion Control

Is there any way to know how much of a certain food we should be eating? Of course there is. One method is called the plate method. In this method, the plate can visually be split into three sections. One half of the plate should be filled with vegetables, greens and fruits, ¼ of the plate should have the grains and carbohydrates and the other ¼ of the plate will hold the protein. Now keep in mind, the section that holds carbohydrates includes the starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn and peas. The protein is meat, eggs or tofu.

You may think that this is not possible when you go to a casual restaurant, it would take a little doing on your part, however, you can split that food into the proper groupings. This would help you at the start of changing your life.

You could try this at a fast food location, but the carbohydrate section may be overflowing while the vegetables and fruit half are seriously lacking. What can we deem from a comparison between fast food and casual dining food? There is not much difference in actuality. We, as people, need to control ourselves. Those fast food meals do taste delicious! It is so nice to have someone else cook for us sometimes, however, learning control is the first part.

Filling Up

Carbohydrates may work to fill you up quickly, but it is not a lasting full. The breads, grains, and bakery goods give you a full sensation, however, those carbs turn into sugar quickly and then you fall out of that sugar high you were in. There are plenty of fruits and some vegetables that have natural sugar, but will keep you feeling full longer.

There is logic to a salad being served as a first course. This goes back generations, they knew and fully understood that eating a plate of vegetables first would fill you up so that you did not eat much meat or desserts. Way back, it was sometimes difficult to find the animals for meat when they went hunting and gathered their own food.

Buying sugar was considered a treat. Very seldom did families purchase sugar. The population for the most part was far healthier back then. They filled up on what items there was surplus of, that would have been vegetables that they grew themselves, and fruits found on trees around the property.

Blame Game

No one should sit back and put the blame on a restaurant for serving food that makes you gain weight. It is not the restaurant putting that food into your mouth, it is you. Being heavy may run in the family, but it is up to each one of us to control our own weight. We should not expect anyone other than ourselves to provide the nutrition in the amounts we need.

These bogus lawsuits against fast food businesses should be stopped, the blame is not on the restaurant. The blame is on the parent that purchased the fast food. The amount of fast foods or commercialized prepared and prepackaged foods is no one’s responsibility except our own! We choose what we feed ourselves and what we provide for our children.

The only difference I can honestly give when comparing a Fast Food place to a Casual Restaurant is that they both serve foods that people obviously enjoy. That is their job! That is how they make money. How we, as a population eat, well, that is up to us, and us alone.