Is mom's home cooking healthier than fast food? In this day and age, where convenience foods are cheap and abundant, quick meals can easily be correlated to the obesity epidemic that has plagued the United States. A home-cooked meal is often a better choice because it gives you the control to pick healthier ingredients.
Fast Food Recognition
Times have changed as far as cooking goes. Women now are just as active in the workplace as men are and men have become even more active in the kitchen. Yet, as far as nutrition goes, home-cooked meals are becoming fewer and farther between. According to a study published by the Palo Alto Medical Center, 96 percent of kids in school recognize the face of Ronald McDonald and the only more recognizable figure is Santa Claus. Even more alarming is the fact that Americans spend nearly $100 billion on fast food every year, according to the same study.
Comparing the Meals
Why are people not cooking at home anymore? The convenience of fast foods can make it a tough choice, but the benefits of a home-cooked meal outweigh the negative effects of a fast food meal. First, cooking at home gives you control of which ingredients to add in recipes. Since watching your salt and saturated fat intake are important, you should be aware that meals from fast food restaurants are loaded with sodium and fat. On average, fast food meals contain more than the suggested daily intake of salt and fat, according to a study of fast food consumption published in 2004 in the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition."
Tips on Making Homecooked Meals Easy
According to a United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Services campaign geared towards healthy eating, there are many ways to keep home-cooked meals simple. By planning weekly meals and grocery shopping lists, you can reduce fast food temptations. To help with hunger on the go, carry raw fruits and vegetables with a shelf-stable dip. Choose recipes that are low in salt, sugar and saturated fat so you can feel confident in your healthy meal choices. Participate in recipe-sharing clubs or start keeping a recipe book of your favorite meals. Designate a time each week with your family when you can all cook together.
Nutritious Fast Food
Not all fast foods have to be bad for you. According to a United States Department of Agriculture study on preventing childhood obesity, you can manage a healthy diet even if you choose to eat fast food at times. By not ordering the biggest sizes, choosing water, skipping sauces and picking items that are grilled or baked, you can help keep your intake as healthy as possible.
- Palo Alto Medical Foundation: Fast Food
- United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Services: Especially for Moms
- Journal of the American College of Nutrition: Fast Food Consumption of U.S. Adults: Impact on Energy and Nutrient Intakes and Overweight Status
- United States Department of Agriculture: Preventing Childhood Obesity
Catherine Conrad is a registered dietitian specializing in wellness nutrition. She graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Science in nutrition and completed her dietetic residency at Iowa State University. Conrad has written several community nutrition programs. She is also a competitive runner and rower.