B Fit’s Hot Topic: Eating Out vs. Preparing Your Own Food
The equation to living a healthy lifestyle seems easy enough. It seems that everyone is trying to eat healthier. However, it always seems like a constant struggle with so many different forces against us. One of the biggest challenges of healthy eating is going out to eat or bringing take out home.
When choosing what foods we eat, convenience and time are two major determinants. Fast food and restaurant dining is quick, easy, and lets us be lazy. Unfortunately, going out to eat has its disadvantages and can cause many health problems. When you go out to eat, a lot of the time you think you’re saving money, but by the time you pay for pricey drinks and tip, you’ve paid about three times more than you would have if you prepared a meal at home. The huge portions, multiple courses, free bread, a dessert menu, and a variety of many alcoholic drinks all cause you to eat beyond your point of fullness, causing overeating by consuming too many calories.
The solution? Prepare your own meals. The idea of preparing your own food has a variety of benefits, making it a much healthier option. Although it may not seem like it, making your meals is more cost efficient than eating out. Cooking your own food also gives you choices. You are completely in control of what exactly is in your food, where you can keep your meal as natural as you wish. Also, if you have any special diet needs or food allergies, you can prepare the food to fit your needs. When you cook your own meals, you can control your portion sizes. Preparing your own food also means more quality time with the family. Eating with the family is a bonding experience and family dinners are diminishing in today’s society. Cooking food can also provide the opportunity for children to learn important meal planning skills.
Eating out is impossible to avoid completely. If your friend was promoted or if it’s someone’s birthday, you’re bound to go out to eat at some point. Luckily, it is possible to eat healthier when you are at a restaurant. Here are some tips on how:
- Plan ahead. Make a list of restaurants near you that offer healthy choices. Pick up carry-out menus to see what exactly what kind of foods they offer
- Ask questions before you order, like “How is this item prepared?” “Can you substitute items?”
- Add more vegetables whenever possible
- Avoid items that are ‘jumbo,’ ‘giant,’ ‘deluxe,’ or ‘super-sized’
- Split an entree or dessert with someone
- Put half of your order in a take home box before you start to eat
- Watch out for hidden extra calories, like bacon, croutons, or cheese
- Ask for salad dressings, sour cream, and butter on the side
- Don’t forget that beverages can be laden with calories too!
- Walk to and from the restaurant to burn extra calories