Is it really healthier to eat at home? Large-scale research reveals the truth

Among options including fast food, full-service restaurants or eating at home, it’s good, old-fashioned home cooking that delivers the best nutrition.

Of course, you already knew this, but it might be nice to learn that large-scale research has proven it definitively.

According to the results taken from eight years of data involving 18,098 adults, Americans consume, on average, 200 more calories when they eat out than when they simply stay home.

To make this worse, dining out leads to consumption of higher fat, sugar, sodium and cholesterol – and far lower amounts of vegetables, fruits and vitamins.

Between fast food and full-service restaurants, those that choose fast food wind up with an additional 300 milligrams of sodium. Though this seems bad, this is nothing compared to the detrimental effects of full-service restaurants. There, people take in an additional 58 milligrams of cholesterol per day and 412 milligrams of sodium.

More interesting than this data, though, is that different groups are affected in different ways. African Americans end up consuming more fat, sodium and sugar than either Hispanics or Caucasians. Those from a middle to lower income range have a higher caloric intake.

As an “ever-expanding” obese nation, the US has also seen rising rates in total energy consumption outside of the home. In 2007 alone, 25% of calories came from outside the home.

Six tips to make home-cooking more accessible:

Here are a few ideas to help you eat wholesome, healthy home-prepared food from your own kitchen more of the time.

1. Realize that it does require preparation. More and more, fitness experts are suggesting that getting in shape requires a healthy diet, exercise, supplementation and meal planning.

2. Plan your meals at least 2–3 days at a time. This includes a shopping list and regular trips to the grocery store to ensure that the right foods are always in your kitchen.

3. Take a Sunday afternoon and bag much of your food and snacks for the week. This way, you can “grab and go.”

4. Memorize 5–6 healthy recipes that you can prepare in 20 minutes or less. Make these your fall-back meals that you can make quickly. You never want to wonder, “What is there to eat?”

5. When you do eat out, drink water and get a salad (with dressing on the side).

Most of all, make the commitment to healthy eating and be willing to plan ahead!



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