Cooking your meals at home is one of the best things you can do for your health. It allows you to control the quality and quantity of the ingredients, and it’s usually cheaper than eating out.
Also, if you’re not regularly eating home-cooked meals, you’re likely getting most of your food from restaurants. While an occasional restaurant meal on a special occasion may not be so bad, eating out regularly can have terrible consequences for your health.
Excess Fat, Sugar, and Salt
Most restaurants know that the cheapest and easiest way to make food tasty and addictive is to load it up with fat, sugar, and salt. Unfortunately for consumers, these ingredients are terrible for our health.
Overeating fat, sugar, and salt can lead to:
- weight gain
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- reduced insulin sensitivity (precursor to type 2 diabetes)
- heart disease
- certain types of cancer
Even the “healthy options” at most restaurants are often prepared with unhealthy fats and loaded with salt. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that less than 0.1% of meals eaten in restaurants met current guidelines for an ideal meal.
Excessive Portion Sizes
Another problem with eating out is that restaurant portions are often much larger than what you should be eating. So not only are the foods you’re eating high in unhealthy fats and calories but you’re also given huge amounts of it.
This quickly leads to overeating, which can result in weight gain and obesity-related chronic illnesses, especially if you are eating this way regularly.
Not just the food but the drinks served at restaurants are often oversized or come with free refills. These sodas and sugar-sweetened beverages can also contribute to weight gain and many other negative health consequences.
Better Ways To Eat Better
If you enjoy eating out, there are some ways you can do so in a healthier way:
- Select restaurants that offer healthy options.
- Order smaller portions or split your meal with someone else.
- Drink water instead of soda or alcohol.
- Avoid fried foods and other high-calorie, high-fat items.
- Skip the appetizers.
- Order menu options that prioritize fruits, vegetables, or whole grains as the main ingredient.
- Stop eating when you’re full and get the rest to go.
- Instead of a fatty and sugary dessert, choose fresh fruit or skip it altogether.
Be mindful of your choices when eating out, and don’t let restaurant meals be the mainstay of your diet. Eating home-cooked meals most of the time is a much more effective way to maintain a healthy weight and improve your overall health.