You probably don’t expect every meal you eat at a restaurant to contain a large number of calories. Sure, the occasional fast food cheat meal might be excessive, but your local farm-to-table place feeds you well, right?

According to new research from Tufts University, nearly all restaurant meals — whether from a fast food joint or the luxurious confines of a Michelin-reviewed kitchen — contain way too many calories. 

The study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, measured 364 restaurant meals from both large chain and local restaurants and a variety of cuisines, finding that 92 percent of them exceed the recommended calorie requirements for a single meal

What’s more, one third of these meals exceeded the energy requirement for an entire day. And, just as a reminder, the meals didn’t include typical restaurant accompaniments, like drinks, appetizers or dessert. 

We need to take control of our plates.

The researchers did not go into why restaurant dishes are so caloric, but it’s not hard to come up with a guess: sugar, fat and salt make things taste better. A chef’s priority is to make food enjoyable, so they use more of the stuff that also makes food more caloric. 

What’s more, portion sizes all but guarantee overeating.  In a 2015 study from Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab, researchers did not find any correlation between the consumption of junk foods and being overweight. Instead, it is the size of the meals that most contributed to America’s obesity epidemic. 

This isn’t a jab at the artful work that restaurant staffers do. It’s a reminded to eat more food at home, and to be mindful of the portion on your plate. You might consider boxing up half of a meal to have for lunch the following day, rather than scarfing it all down on a full stomach to make the most of your spent money. 

“Although fast-food restaurants are often the easiest targets for criticism because they provide information on their portion sizes and calories, small restaurants typically provide just as many calories, and sometimes more,” said Susan B. Roberts, Ph.D., director of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts in a statement.  

And restaurants need to change, too.

We need to take a thoughtful pause and reconsider how we consume: In 2015, Americans spent more on dining out than groceries for the first time on record.

Bf we want to continue enjoying food outside of our homes but improve our health, restaurant practices will need to change, too. Legislation that makes it possible for customers to order smaller-sized portions could be a successful start, study co-author William Masters, Ph.D., professor of food economics at the Friedman School, said in the study’s press release. 

“Customers could then order anything on the menu in a more appropriate size, and be able to eat out more often without weight gain.”

While you wait for restaurant meals to come in healthier sizes, you might consider making the majority of your meals at home. Besides being less caloric, studies show home-cooked meals are nutritionally healthier and socially beneficial, too.  

Here’s some meal inspiration to get you started:  

7 Essential Healthy Recipes To Master In 2016

7 Essential Healthy Recipes To Master In 2016

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An Always Tasty, Never Boring Veggie Dish
Roasted vegetables are one of the most versatile foods you can make throughout the year, but especially in winter, when pickings are slim. This recipe, from Dave Asprey’s new Bulletproof: The Cookbook, is a terrific way to eat fresh veggies, since it will be delicious no matter what’s in season, from sweet potatoes to carrots to parsnips to broccoli. The trick: Start with thick-cut bacon. Just two slices add the perfect salty and smoky elementand turn a potentially humdrum side into one with rich flavor.

Get the recipe: Winter Vegetable Salad

Mitch Mandel
An Always Tasty, Never Boring Veggie Dish
Roasted vegetables are one of the most versatile foods you can make throughout the year, but especially in winter, when pickings are slim. This recipe, from Dave Asprey’s new Bulletproof: The Cookbook, is a terrific way to eat fresh veggies, since it will be delicious no matter what’s in season, from sweet potatoes to carrots to parsnips to broccoli. The trick: Start with thick-cut bacon. Just two slices add the perfect salty and smoky elementand turn a potentially humdrum side into one with rich flavor.

Get the recipe: Winter Vegetable Salad

Mitch Mandel
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Restaurant-Worthy Seafood You Can Totally Make Yourself
A way to make fish with a crunchy, golden exterior without frying? Meet pan-roasting, one of the most effective and mouthwatering techniques for cooking nutritious salmon, cod or other seafood that doesn’t involve tons of oil. This recipe, from Bon Appetit: The Food Lover’s Cleanse explains just how to do it (the method takes all of nine minutes), and has you top the cooked fillets with a grapefruit-cabbage slaw that gets its creaminess from protein-rich yogurt.

Get the recipe: Pan-Roasted Salmon with Grapefruit-Cabbage Slaw

Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott
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Veggie Burgers You’ll Be Happy to Heat Up
Whether you serve them on a bun or over a bed of mixed greens, plant-based patties are a satisfying and healthy vegetarian meal. This simple recipe, from the new book The Plantiful Table, by Andrea Duclos, from the blog OhDearDrea, uses a can of chickpeas as its base and also includes corn, peas, fresh herbs and carrots. The fresh-tasting burgers freeze well, so you’ll never need to buy packaged ones again.

Get the recipe: Chickpea Patties

Andrea Duclos
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An Asparagus Dish That’ll Win Over Skeptics
If you, or someone at your table, aren’t a fan of asparagus, Emily von Euw has the recipe for you. In her new book The Rawsome Vegan Cookbook, she explains that pairing the earthy-tasting, fiber- and folate-packed vegetable with apple-cider vinegar results in a tangy, addictive side you’ll make again and again. She also uses a tiny bit of maple syrup for subtle sweetness, plus tamari (a wheat-free soy sauce) for a salty kick.

Get the recipe: Sauted Asparagus

Emily von Euw
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A Cheap And Trusty Stalwart You Can Use Anywhere
Low and slow doesn’t just apply to barbecueit’s also the secret to making deeply flavored, tender cannellini beans. In The Anti-Inflammation Cookbook, Amanda Haas explains how the process couldn’t be simpler: You soak the beans overnight (or, you can follow her shortcut soak technique), boil them then simmer for about two hours. The final step is to combine the legumes with garlic, rosemary and thyme that you’ve cooked lightly in olive oil. Enjoy the beanswhich are high in protein and complex carbson their own as an entre, alongside chicken or roasted vegetables or spread on toast.

Get the recipe: Cannellini Beans with Garlic and Herbs

Erin Kunkel
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A Baked Pasta You Can Feel Great About
When comfort-food cravings strike, this reliable pasta bake is one recipe you’ll be happy to have in your arsenal. It’s easy to prepare and is more healthful than you’d think, thanks to fat-free ricotta and part-skim mozzarella. Plus, it includes spinach for a vitamin boost.

Get the recipe: Baked Pasta with Sausage and Spinach

Gina Homolka
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A Shockingly Tasty Mashed-Potato Sub
Whipped cauliflower is so delicious that we now prefer it to traditional pureed potatoes. That’s because even when you puree the cruciferous vegetable, it retains a bit of texture, but without the gumminess that can result when you overcook the potatoes. Also, you feel a lot less stuffed after eating it, since this dish is low in carbs. Bonus: These mashed potatoes cook in half the time.

Get the recipe: Whipped Cauliflower

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Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2016/01/20/calories-of-restaurant-meals-out-of-control_n_9068058.html