A recent study has suggested, that having home cooked meals is the healthiest choice families could make in America, it is indeed the best way to keep a check on your calories, sugar and sodium portions.
In the opinion of the researchers, the food served at different restaurants poses higher health risks as it tends to increase calories, fats and sodium in our bodies which has profound effects on human health.
According to the study’s author, “Public health interventions targeting dining-out behavior in general, rather than just fast food, may be warranted to improve the way Americans’ eat.”
Another professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Ruopeng An, says, “But, people don’t know much about the food provided by full-service restaurants and if it is better or healthier compared to fast food or compared to food prepared and consumed at home.”
The Author used information from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which collects health and nutritional information every day from a representative sample of the U.S. population.
When above 18,000 Americans were asked about their diet over a two-day period, one third of them agreed to have had fast food on one or more days, and one fourth of them informed to have eaten proper restaurant food for at least a day.
When a comparison was made by An, it was found that there was no such difference between eating fast food out or at home since calorie and nutrient intake remained the same. However, full-service restaurant meals eaten at home had almost 80 less calories, faintly less fat and nearly 80 mg less sodium.
Studies suggest that people who ate fast food, expended an average of 190 more calories per day, 11 grams more fat, 3.5 g more saturated fat, 10 mg additional cholesterol and 300 mg supplementary sodium while on the other hand, partakers who feasted at full-service restaurants consumed about 187 more calories per day compared to those who ate food made at home, 10 more grams of fat, 2.5 g more saturated fat, nearly 60 mg more cholesterol and above 400 mg extra sodium.
According to An, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has asked restaurants with 20 or more localities to provide the people with calorie and nutrient content in the menu category, but that’s not applied to most full-service restaurants. He says, “So people who consume food at full-service restaurants are not aware of the calorie and nutrient content in the food served (and) are more likely to overeat and are less cautious about the extra calories they intake from the full-service restaurant.”
Lori Rosenthal, a dietitian at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, believes that when eating at restaurants, the public is more likely to eating “cheat meals” or “splurges” however, specific habits can help them reduce the calories. When people choose to eat homemade food, they are less likely to consume unhealthy diet such as by substituting full-fat cheese for reduced fat forms.
She told Reuters Health that “When we prepare our own meals we know exactly what the foods we are eating contain. When dining out, we are leaving the ingredients to the chef or fast food chain. When we make our own, we are in control.”
Rosenthal suggests that “Before heading to a restaurant look up the menu online. This helps to avoid succumbing to the pressure of ordering before reading all of the options.”
She further says, “Don’t be afraid to ask how menu items are prepared and stick to those that are baked, broiled, grilled or steamed.” And, “Choose dishes that contain vegetables (i.e. veggie omelet, kabobs or pasta primavera) or request they be added.” She presents the idea that vegetables simply add bulk to the meal which not only is satisfying, but reduces excessive calorie intake.
“Be mindful and slow down, take the time to chew, taste and savor your food – you’ll naturally eat less and enjoy your meal even more.” says Rosenthal. She believes
it would be wiser to pack up a meal, share it with someone or order an appetizer instead of a full meal.