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Eating well day in day out should be our goal. This is because diets never work and the results do not last for a long time. People should eat in a healthy way because good food is enjoyable and integral part of daily life. Many people believe that eating well begins in the home kitchen. Too often people eat in a rush away from home (Golson, 1998). He continues to say that fast foods are high in calories and fat but low in nutrients. In some cases it is possible to find healthy meals in restaurants or low fat prepared foods in markets. Home cooked meals are healthier, tastier and more economical. Golson (1998) learned that the foods we make at home will be fresher and more wholesome than anything found at a restaurant. Lacalamita & Vance (2011) argues that fast food is consistently prepared and provides good value for the dollar when all other issues are cast aside. However, reliance on a fast food diet leads to health concerns such as obesity and heart disease. On the other hand, sitting down to a home cooked, well balanced meal is preferable to wolfing down a high-fat meal of little nutritional value and fiber, along with a sugary carbonated drink (Lacalamita & Vance, 2011).
Eating out is part of today’s lifestyle. Hoeger & Sharon (2010) says that in the late 1970s, food eaten away from home represented about 18 percent of our energy intake. In the mid-1990s, this figure rose to 32 percent hence almost half of the money Americans spend on food today is on meals away from home (Hoeger & Sharon, 2010). Eating out would not be such a problem if portion sizes were reasonable or if restaurant food were similar to food prepared at home. In relation with home-cooked meals, restaurant and fast food meals are higher in fat and calories and lower in essential nutrients and fiber. Food portions in fast-food have increased substantially in size. Hoeger & Sharon (2010) stated that “patrons consume huge amounts of food, almost as if this were the last meal they will ever have” (p. 38). Eating out menus may include selections that are called healthy choices but these items may not provide nutritional information including calories. Fast-food menus have many other choices that look delicious but provide larger serving sizes with more fat and calories and fewer fruits and vegetables. Hoeger & Sharon (2010) says that making a healthy selection is difficult because people tend to choose food for its taste, convenience, and cost instead of nutrition.
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Pros and cons of eating out
Fast-foods are often less healthy than we think. Greer (2008) established that eating out can be touch issue for many people. While many people strive of us to be health conscious, we often view an evening of dinning at a nice restaurant as a treat or reward and thus tend to over-indulge. The most fundamental thing to note is that when people eat out at restaurants, they consume a greater quantity of saturated fat and calories, fewer nutrients, and less fiber than when they eat at home. Greer (2008) says that “children eat almost twice as many calories in the average meal compared to a home-cooked meal” (p. 24).
Valenti & Orey (2004) say that when an individual eats out he or she does not know what he is getting. This is because the media is constantly doing cover stories about mysterious things that go on in meat packing companies, foods that are not being cooked long enough in fast food places and restaurants that have health violations (Valenti & Orey, 2004). Another disadvantage of eating out is that people consume hidden fats. Valenti & Orey (2004) says that even though the base of the meal may contain chicken, beef, eggs or cheese, these foods will be cooked in fake butter or oils.
Though eating out may be little harder on one’s pocket, it does not have to be unhealthy. Legere (2004) says that as a rule of thumb, while eating out one should stick to the main concepts of healthful eating that is applied to a home-cooked meal. He further continues to indicate that people should know that larger portions of fast foods served in restaurants are a marketing ploy and usually provide far more food one needs. Legere (2004) says that instead of fried foods, one should order foods that are broiled, boiled, steamed, grilled or baked.
Eating home cooked meal
House (2011) stated that it is no secret that fast food, junk food, quick food, even restaurant food is sweeter, saltier, creamier, more fried and more fake than our basic home-cooked meals. This is because we have no control over what a restaurant makes for us. At home we can make fresh, fun, tasty meals just the way we like, in our own schedule and within healthy reasonable budget (House, 2011). House (2011) noted that “through home-cooked meals one can personalize the dishes just the way the family likes all the while using lower-fat, lower-calorie and even fresher ingredients” (p. 24). House (2011) also says that the food does not have to be fried, slathered, sauced or sizzled. With home cooked meals, one can do it in the way the family will enjoy, which will make an individual to feel guilty about feeding it to them (House, 2011).
Home-cooked meals enable us to control when the family eats, where they eat, what they eat and how healthy they eat. House (2011) says that every family has unique tastes and palette, and the last thing that they should do is to sacrifice taste for health. In this context the best way to ensure we are eating nutrient dense food is to cook our meals at home, using raw ingredients, rather than relying on processed or pre-packaged foods.
Pros and cons of eating a home cooked meal
Borboa (2011) researched that eating out, dining by delivery, drive-thru, and grocery store frozen main courses not only puts ones health and waistline at risk but they are expensive and in many cases, take just as much time, if not more than cooking a meal at home. Borboa (2011) says that gathering the family around the kitchen dinner table or even better, having the family help with the meal before it gets to the dinner table presents a tasty opportunity to spend quality time together. Through home cooked meals the children are taught valuable lesson in health promoting, money saving life-skills. Borboa (2011) further says that through home cooked meals the children grow up with the positive perspective that home-cooked meals are the norm even for the busiest families.
If one respects the importance of cooking meals at home, an individual gains a profusion of advantages that are acknowledged so rarely as a count among the best kept secrets of our day (Mendelson, 1999). According to Mendelson (1999), in addition to saving money, cooking at home helps us to be healthier, happier, and more secure, and it provides a wonderful way for us to be with our families. Another advantage is that it takes less time than going out to a nice restaurant; a person enjoys better tasting food and knows much more about its history and preparation (Mendelson, 1999). He further says that cooking at home also increases ones control over the cleanliness and quality of ingredients and care that go into the food and establishes one more area in life in which he or she can be independent and knowledgeable.
Home cooked meals satisfy emotional hungers as real as hunger in the belly, and nothing else does so in the same way. Mendelson (1999) says that they promote affection and intimacy among those who share them. Cooking at home likes the past and future and solidifies the sense of identity and place. Mendelson (1999) mentioned that “home cooking can offer the essential portion sizes, sophisticated attention to individual nutrition and diet needs, freedom of repetition because people in their homes know what they have eaten today, yesterday and last week, menus that reflect likes and dislikes in fat and salt levels as well as flavors, ingredients and preparation styles”. Through home cooking we can make almost anything in the world that we want, and we can make family or ethnic dishes just the way we like them. When we have satisfying, well designed meals at home, we are going to be less prone to overeating and nibbling, not only due to the types of foods we are likely to prepare but because the very emotional satisfaction offered by home-cooked meals help assuage the empty feelings that make some of us eat when we are not really hungry (Mendelson, 1999).
The emotional comfort of home cooking for children is something every parent discovers. Mendelson (1999) noted that sharing meals with the children in the privacy of home environment reinforces the parent’s authority and beneficence in their eyes and helps increase their trust and pride in parent’s abilities. Additionally, if children do not become accustomed to the taste of healthy foods at home, they are an easy target for marketers’ who want them to buy unhealthy foods away from homes. Mendelson (1999) says that such foods contain high levels of fat, far too much salt and sugar, hidden ingredients, and perhaps most harmful of all , textures and tastes that cannot be imitated at home. When children become accustomed to all tastes and styles of fast food and other commercial food, meals prepared at home that are healthier and better may nonetheless come to taste wrong to them in the long run.
Health education campaigns currently provide information on what constitutes being healthy and stresses health as a motivation for eating behavior. Ogden (2011) says that there is a fundamental increase in the number of foods available and marketed as being healthy. Ogden mentioned that these include healthy options with low fat and low salt content and specific food products designed to lower cholesterol or protect against cancer or heart diseases (2011). Being healthy is determined by ones eating behavior hence it possible that for people without any health related symptoms, health concerns are of low salience and do not impact upon their decisions about eating behavior in any significant way (Ogden, 2011). Health concerns according to Ogden (2011) may become more of a motivational force once a person health starts to suffer and once they experience symptoms which they believe may be modifiable by their behavior.
Being healthy, requires that we take control and start making the effort to decrease our food portions, substituting healthy foods for not so healthy foods and exercising, unless restricted by our physician. Leacock-Ballish (2010) says that we must shop wisely and prepare our own meals at home. In addition, Leacock-Ballish (2010) studied that we have to start somewhere, and that somewhere is first learning to commit to being healthy, which cannot take effect unless we start the doing process which includes shopping for our food items and knowing in advance what we want to purchase. Being healthy requires us to practice reading labels which is a big part of smart grocery shopping, and then once we have purchased the healthy items, we have to commit to healthy preparation (Leacock-Ballish, 2010).
It is important for people to realize that it does not make sense to buy healthy food items and then proceed to prepare them in an unhealthy way. Jacob, Chan & Thiessen (2008) in their studies noted that food should not be used as a reward or bribe for good behavior or for preventing bad ones. Parents should understand that all foods even treats can fit into a healthy diet. To be healthy we should choose the healthier foods more often and not so-healthy ones less often. Jacob, Chan & Thiessen (2008) identified that children do not have the knowledge to make healthy food choices hence they depend on their parents to offer healthy and varied food choices. This provides them with the foundation of being healthy and a basis of good eating habits even in the fussiest eater.
Although eating out can be fun, the research home cooked food presents individuals with the best option for living healthy. People should realize that large food portions and flavors served in fast-food restaurants are marketing strategies which seek to encourage customers. Scholars assert that eating out would not be a big issue if the quality of restaurant food was similar to the quality of food prepared at home. The home cooked and fast food cannot be compared health wise. From the economics perspective home-cooked food is more economical since it restrains individuals from spending heavily on fast-foods. The research shows that when people engage in preparing their own food they reduce the risks of their health concerns and averts diseases such as obesity, cancer and other related health complications such as heart diseases. Fast food is steadily prepared and provides good value for our money and time when all other issues are cast aside.
From the research we realize that eating out can only be reasonable if the quality of such meals is improved. Restaurants should address concerns such as reducing fat and calories and increasing essential nutrients and fiber. Fast foods should provide nutritional information to enable people to make the right choices. While eating out saves us time and the dedication required in shopping and preparing the meals at home people should stick to the concepts of health eating. On the other hand, home-cooked foods play a key role in monitoring our diet in that people can come up with weekly menus of what they will eat. Home cooking gives us the opportunity to use raw ingredients instead of focusing heavily on pre-packaged foods. People can only take control of the cleanliness of the food they consume when they prepare their meals. Fast and home cooked foods determine our eating habits and influence our body health. Being healthy requires that we take control of the food portions we take be it fast or home cooked foods. The benefits associated with home-cooked food outweigh those of fast-foods on the basis of our health, hygiene and economics.
In conclusion, what people eat defines them, whereas how food is cooked defines our society and culture. Therefore we should strive to eat healthy foods always. This will promote our wellbeing. With home-cooked meal one knows exactly what is in the meal and one can adjust the seasoning or ingredients exactly to his or her liking. There are intangible benefits of cooking at home unlike eating out. Though fast foods save individuals the hustle of buying and preparing food, home cooking is significant when health matters are put into serious considerations. Studies show that people who prefer cooking for themselves eat in a less rushed fashion with a home-cooked meal, rather than carton of take-out set on the table.