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Time for dinner

Then and Now - Old dinnerWith today’s hectic and over-scheduled lifestyle, traditional sit-down home cooked meals may be few and far between. For all ages, dining out has been steadily on the rise. Restaurants ranging from elegant to fast food are luring consumers offering healthier menu choices, affordable pricing and larger portions. These current trends follow a history of other changes that occurred within the food service industry.

According to an article from Restaurant Report (a publication for hospitality professionals and food connoisseurs), dining practices during the 20th century have gone through some major changes. In rural areas beginning in the 1920s, family-owned roadside dining rooms emerged. The elegant style restaurant starting popping up in cities from the 30s to the 50s. Drive-in restaurants became popular during the 1950s since cars were no longer just a luxury. The 60s saw coffee shops and vendomats, while theme-style concept eateries became the way of the 70s. Chain restaurants ranging from quick service to upscale burst into the scene during the 1980s. The “mom and pop” style establishments were beginning to see some real competition.

With the coming of the millennium, fast food chains starting appearing in the most unlikely places. You can now buy a Little Caesars Pizza at your local K-Mart and devour a Big Mac at Wal-Mart. Multiple restaurant chains have begun to operate together at the same location as well, (a term called “multiple-branding”). For example, Pepsico, which owns Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut, started this practice at various locations across the country.

With most of us eating out at least once a week, we need to follow some simple strategies. First, if you know you are going to splurge tonight at your neighborhood restaurant, eat light during the day or cut down the following day. Go easy on the bread and stay away from fried and oily foods. Order sauces and gravies on the side so you are in control over amounts. Try sharing your dessert (and calories) with fellow diners. Lastly, be sure to watch out for those massive portion sizes. Separate the amount you would normally eat at home even before you begin your meal. Then take the rest home with you for tomorrow’s lunch. Walking out with a doggie bag has now become the honorable way to exit a restaurant.

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Cynthia Lopinto

Cyn LoPinto, M.A. is a gerontologist focusing on significant issues affecting older adults and their families. Her areas of interest include lifestyle enrichment, family dynamics, and caregiver support. Cyn has worked in both the recreational and healthcare industries.

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