There’s so much about eating out that ruins a proper diet but even foregoing fast food chains that are known for being unhealthy may not be enough. Restaurants are chalk full of potential pitfalls that may lead to increased weight gain where you might not be looking for them. New research, from Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania, has even shown that these chain restaurants may actually be LESS healthy than a fast food restaurant. The research which was published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, analyzed over 2,600 items at restaurants like Red Lobster, TGIF, Chili’s, and Olive Garden. According to Time, the restaurants were feeding patrons, on average, over 1400 calories in a normal adult meal. They also drastically exceeded the recommended levels of sodium (3,312 mg) and saturated fat (28 g) for a single meal. Although restaurants are beginning to add “healthy” options for meals the criteria for these vary from restaurant to restaurant and there hasn’t been much evidence to support that having calorie counts beside items on the menu changes what customers eat. What it comes down to is that your favorite meal at a restaurant like Olive Garden could come in at 2,000 calories and if you ate normally during the day you are consuming, at least, 3,000 calories for that day. At the end of the day, eating out doesn’t compare to preparing your own meals at home. Sometimes it can’t be avoided, but instead of opting for alcohol and desert...keep it light. Try and opt for restaurants where you can ask for chicken and steamed veggies.