America is known for its food culture. Unfortunately, a lot of that culture is fast food. Most of everyone is aware that fast food is certainly not the healthier choice in almost every possible way, yet the convenience of it, and even the deliciousness of some meals, outweigh that fact.
For those people who simply don’t enjoy cooking (or just don’t know how to cook) there are few options left between the two choices, and so it is ultimately easier to maintain that fast food lifestyle. However, if that unhealthy lifestyle is finally catching up and a few more reasons to persuade that final decision are needed, here are some facts about how home cooking remains the better choice over restaurants.
Calories are that buzzword many people are familiar with which is typically tied to weight gain or loss. Famous weight loss programs tend to focus around measuring and mediating caloric intake. Even some notable beer brands promote themselves by being beers with the lowest calorie count. While those programs or brands have a spectrum of success rates, a study from the John Hopkins Center for Liveable Future showed that people who commonly cook meals from home tend to eat healthier and, as a result, consume less calories than those who don’t. This extended to the occasions when those same people went out for meals.
For those who cooked frequently at home (6-7 nights a week), when they did go out, they also consumed less calories.
Sugar and Carbs
Sugar and carbs taste good. There is no way around this. Since restaurants— especially fast food— have figured this out, the best way for them to create repeat customers is to make their food taste better. It has been proven that sugar has addictive qualities as hard drugs like opioids and cocaine, so it only makes sense that major food providers would do everything in their power to make their food choices taste better.
Often those choices lead to a shocking level of loss in quality which in turn makes the food that much worse for our bodies. Even the so-called best options on many restaurant menus will have far more calories, sodium, fat, and sugar in the meals than anything that can be prepared fresh from home, and that is before even considering the origin of the food used in preparation. Being that humans’ taste buds adapt to the foods we eat, the more sugar, salt, and fat consumed means that it becomes what our brain expects and craves.
That can be a hard habit to break literally, but the good news is that by choosing to buy, prepare, cook and eat fresh food – rather than farming techniques which contribute to climate change – those taste buds can readjust to natural, rich flavors.
Obesity is a major concern for public health educators. A study published in the journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that the amount of excess energy gained from meals consumed outside the home is a major contributing factor to the development of obesity. This, in combination with the fact that around 50% of restaurants do not provide nutrition information means that it is very hard for people to make healthy choices when outside the home.
However sad, the previous factors make it difficult to switch, let alone maintain a healthier eating lifestyle. The average meal from a restaurant held 1205 calories, most often coming from three of the four most popular cuisine choices— American, Italian, Spanish, and Chinese foods.
Being that people tend to eat the full portions served, those unnecessary portion sizes are consumed. This in turn distorts people’s abilities to discern what a healthy serving size of food should be, let alone the quality of the ingredients contained.
A Sigh of Relief
While it may not be true in every situation— like the mother of 4 boys that cooks almost every night of the week— cooking from home is connected to stress relief, increased creativity, and feelings of positivity. This comes from a change of pace to the day, connecting with others, and the creation of memories with those same loved ones. Experimenting with new recipes engages different sides of the brain, develops confidence, and a sense of accomplishment.
Guest Author Bio
With a Bachelor’s in Health Science along with an MBA, Sarah Daren has a wealth of knowledge within both the health and business sectors. Her expertise in scaling and identifying ways tech can improve the lives of others has led Sarah to be a consultant for a number of startup businesses, most prominently in the wellness industry, wearable technology and health education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life with a focus on making America a healthier and safer place for future generations to come.