Dining out can be a special treat after a busy week, a way to celebrate special occasions or a means to socialize with friends. Dining out every so often can be part of a healthy lifestyle, but individuals who want to exercise the utmost control over their diets may find eating at home makes it easier to do so.
According to a Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, many Americans dine out at least once per week. Restaurants Canada says spending on dining out has grown to around $72 billion a year. But entrée options on restaurant menus may be high in calories and compromise dieters' efforts to slim down.
Research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics by Tufts University author William Masters found the average dinner entrée is 1,500 calories. Depending on age and gender, health experts say that adults need somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500 calories per day. The Energy Metabolism Laboratory found that 92 percent of meals from large-chain and local restaurants contain more calories than is recommended for the average person.
If dining out is compromising diners' attempts to lose weight or maintain healthy weights, then exploring the following benefits to dining at home might be enough to compel them to enjoy more meals prepared in their own kitchens.
• Cooking their own foods affords diners control over ingredients, including those that might not promote weight loss.
• Making meals enables you to regulate the amount of food served, better controlling portion sizes.
• Dining together as a family has been linked to benefits like improved conversation, reduced substance abuse in children and reduced obesity in families, according to the University of Washington.
Those who are unaccustomed to cooking at home and/or struggling to find time to make their own meals can use these tips to make things go more smoothly.
• Plot out a meal plan for the week and purchase ingredients for all recipes during one visit to the store.
• Choose meals that can be prepared in advance over the weekend and then heated up during the week.
• Incorporate a "leftovers day" into the schedule to prevent wasting food.
• Stock up on staples that can be included in many different meals, such as chicken, beans, potatoes, and noodles.
• Recognize that frozen or canned vegetables can be just as healthy as fresh items and stored safely for longer periods of time.
• Use a blend of convenience items and fresh ingredients for healthy meals. Meals need not be entirely made from scratch.
Eating more meals at home, where cooks can control ingredients and portion sizes, can help men and women lose weight and maintain healthy weights.