A healthy lifestyle requires that you have control over what goes into your body. When we eat out, whether at fast food or gourmet restaurants, we give up knowing exactly what food we’re eating, how it was prepared, and the portion size. And let’s be honest, we can never know exactly how hygienic the kitchen is at any restaurant. Healthy eating at home lets you enjoy your favorite foods the smart way: in the proper portions, with the levels of fat, sodium and other ingredients that you want.
Sure, there may be healthy options on the menu at many places these days, but so often we end up consuming more calories than we plan. You promise you’ll choose the fajita salad rather than the chimichanga, but what if you eat a whole bowl of tortilla chips that gets handed to you? What if you end up on an impulsive calorie splurge on dessert? I know I’m a lot more likely to accept three soda refills from a server than I am to open up three extra cans at home. Restaurants are fun, but part of the experience means going overboard all too often.
It’s not that restaurants all have some evil plan to fatten us up and give us heart attacks. They want to give us value for your money. Unfortunately, that means lots of fat and salt, and portions you wouldn’t dream of serving your own family at home. High calorie meals have been definitively linked to diabetes, and the sodium content of many sauces, salad dressings and sundry others often exceeds the recommended daily amount. Many restaurant ingredients and cooking methods (think pools of canola oil, or even chicken tenders secretly soaking in mayonnaise overnight!) are known to contribute to heart disease and other problems.
At home in your own kitchen, you can ensure healthy eating because you can measure everything out and you can count on having nutrition labels all around. You can know the amounts of seasonings, cooking oils, butter and other ingredients are kept at an appropriate level for you.
If you count calories or points, you know that eating out can be a headache when it comes to figuring out the nutrition facts. Even if the restaurant provides such information, nothing guarantees that the food served to you matches the data posted. At home, you can boil it down to a fine science if you like. It’s all about options and control. You know your own pots and pans; you know which size dinner plate makes sense.
Cooking at home is fun, and part of that fun is feeling connected to your food and the process of cooking it. If you care about your health, you need to care about your food. Being involved in your food prep by eating at home more often makes it possible to take control of your meals, and that’s key to make healthy eating the kind of eating you do most often.