Is eating at restaurants healthy or bad for you?
Does Five Cheese Ziti al Forno sound healthy to you? Or Southern Fried Catfish? How about Maple Bacon Chicken Piadini?
Deep down, you already know the answer to this question. No, eating at restaurants isn’t healthy. Eating at restaurants—fast food or 5 star—is bad for you.
But why? Why can’t eating at restaurants be healthy?
Why is eating at restaurants bad?
Three words: salt, sugar and fat.
Humans are naturally drawn to foods high in salt, sugar and fat. (Hello, salted caramel). That’s how we distinguished foods that were nutritious and calorically dense. In a world where humans struggled to survive, these tastes told us when we hit a jackpot. They encouraged us to eat more of these foods.
Now salt, sugar and fat are extracted from their natural packages. Instincts that helped you now keep you addicted to unhealthy refined foods.
How unhealthy are added salt, sugar and fat?
Refined foods supercharged with salt, sugar and fat are only calorically dense. They’re no longer nutritious.
No food found in nature can compare to the sweet, salty or fatty foods created in factories today. Even the sweetest fruit can’t compare to chocolate chip cookie dough blizzard from Dairy Queen.
One meal at a restaurant can exceed the USDA’s daily recommendations for sodium. Sautéing in oil and frying add significant amounts of fat to food. Added sugars are in every condiment imaginable—from chocolate sauce to ketchup.l
In sum, salt, sugar and fat provide you with a satisfying meal as cheaply as possible. They overstimulate your taste buds making you crave a second order of deep-fried curly fries drizzled with sweet and sour sauce.
Serving unhealthy food at a restaurant is simple. Serving fresh, nutritious food is a challenge.
They don’t care about you
Restaurants don’t care about you. They may seem to care about your health, but they don’t.
Unless a restaurant specializes in healthy food, there’s no chance it cares about your health. Clean eating at restaurants usually just means fewer calories and smaller portions. Truly healthy eating at restaurants is next to impossible.
This may come as a surprise, but restaurant food doesn’t need to be healthy. That means restaurants are legally allowed to serve you food that cause illnesses. Dairy milkshakes that lead to prostate cancer? Rump steaks correlated with cardiovascular disease? Sugary ice cream that causes diabetes? All fair game.
Corporations only care about their appearance. They don’t care about your waistline or the quality of your life. No sane person who cares about your health would serve you food from a restaurant.
It’s all about the money, honey
Restaurants care about money.
The restaurant cycle is simple:
- Encourage customers buy lots of food
- Make food the customer enjoys eating
- Get customers to come back and spend more money on food
Restaurants use salt, sugar and fat to make cheap meals addictively tasty. They have no regard to the health consequences of using these ingredients.
It feels as if we’re getting a bargain by eating at restaurants. No grocery shopping, no cooking, no dishes. It seems like an all-around win.
Yet a meal out is drastically more expensive than cooking food at home. I’ve spent $60 for a meal at a moderate sit-down restaurant. On the other hand, I spend $75 on groceries per week when I cook for myself. It’s difficult to justify eating at a restaurant with such a drastic price difference.
Eating at home is the obvious choice if you want more munch for your money.
How to stop eating at restaurants
Eating at home is healthier than eating at restaurants. So it’s time to cook for yourself.
Now, don’t overwhelm yourself.
You don’t need to go from eating at restaurants every day to pressing your own tortillas. Just cooking at home is a step in the right direction.
Even if you don’t prepare everything from scratch, cooking food at home gives you control over what you eat. Even if you decide to eat burgers and fries, you’re still making a better decision in regards to your health.
Follow a recipe
Think you can’t cook? Follow a recipe, they’re wonderful tools.
You’ll become a better cook by reading and following recipes. That’s how I learned. Recipes taught me how to combine foods and eventually create my own recipes. I learned patterns and recognized which ingredients worked best for my cravings.
You might not know every cooking technique. Who cares? I didn’t know what a julienne slice was. The more recipes I read and cook, the more cooking methods I learned. I discovered how to create different flavors and textures with my ingredients by using various cooking techniques.
Another advantage of recipes is they helped me cook meals on a regular basis. When I found recipes I enjoyed, I kept coming back to them. It’s not lazy to cook the same tasty meals and recipes over and over again – it’s smart. It gave me a quick idea for a meal when I was in a rush to eat. Some recipes, such as tostadas and baked potato wedges, I eat once a week.
There are thousands of recipes available online. Yummly, Pinterest, foodnetwork.com and food.com have extensive databases. They’re great places to start. And just FYI: I have recipes, too.
Most recipes online are free. I usually search for recipes by ingredients or cuisine.
Though I prefer digital recipes, you can also follow printed recipes. I’ve found free or low-cost printed recipes in newspapers and materials borrowed the library. Grocery stores often print out free recipes when they promote ingredients that are on sale.
Tools to begin cooking and eating at home
You’ll need a few tools to cook your meals. You don’t need every piece of equipment out there. Here are my kitchen basics I use on a regular basis:
- Cutting board
- Chef’s knife
- Serrated knife
- Egg flip
- Wooden spoon
- Food processor
- Electric fry pan
I also use my pressure cooker every day. It cooks my food quickly so I can spend less time in the kitchen. I love how I can cook brown rice or beans from scratch in less than 10 minutes.
Pressure cookers are pricier than most of the kitchen basics I recommend, yet they’ll save you both time and money. Once you start using one, you’ll wonder how you ever functioned without it.
Plus, they last a long time.
>>Read why these are the top 10 kitchen basics <<
Let’s get started
Is eating at restaurants healthy? Not compared to the food you can cook at home from scratch.
Preparing your own food is work. Going out to eat and eating frozen dinners is easier than making your own. I understand.
On the other hand, I also understand investing in my body now will allow me more time to enjoy life in the future. Eating at restaurants gives short term pleasure, yet leads to long-term pain.
When I discovered how fun cooking can be, eating healthy was no longer a chore. I now look forward to being creative in the kitchen.
Try one of these easy recipes to get started:
Now get cookin’.
If you need more help on cooking healthy meals, reach out with your questions. I can with with you and teach you how to cook to lose weight and feed your body.