Homecooked meals are generally considered healthier than fast food. This is because fast food meals typically contain high levels of calories, saturated fat, sugar and salt, according to a 2007 article in "The New York Times Health Guide," a medical reference accredited by the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission. Despite the health risks that come with fast food consumption, people continue to eat it because many people have no time to select and prepare food at home. However, fast food need not be as unhealthy as its reputation purports.
Pros and Cons of Homecooked Meals
One purported advantage of homecooked meals over fast food is its cheaper cost, MayoClinic.com explains. However, because you also spend on seasoning, condiments and gas and electricity whenever you cook at home, the cost difference is quite possibly not as large as many believe. In addition, homecooked meals generally take more time to prepare and require you to have cooking skills. On the other hand, the taste of homecooked meals is generally better, because you are able to select fresh ingredients. You are also able to ensure the ingredients that go into your food are clean and free of contaminants.
Obesity, Diabetes and Fast Food Meals
You elevate your risk of health problems such as obesity whenever you eat fast food meals, according to a 2007 article in "The New York Times Health Guide." This is because you are unable to control the conditions that occur when your fast food meals are cooked in the same way that you can when you cook at home. A study published in a 2005 issue of "Lancet" analyzed the effect of fast food consumption on weight and insulin resistance. The study included more than 3,000 participants over 15 years. It discovered that participants who ate fast food meals more than twice a week gained about 4.5 kg and were twice more resistant to insulin. The findings support the assertion that fast food consumption increases your risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Another study published in a 2004 issue of "Pediatrics" drew similar conclusions about the effect of fast food consumption on children. However, more research is needed to further validate this assertion.
Serving Size and Overall Nutritional Value
Homecooked meals differ from fast food meals in terms of serving size and overall nutritional value. A typical fast food burger uses a combination of ground beef, bread and condiments that ends up having about 71 cal/oz for a sandwich that is about 3.5 oz, MayoClinic.com notes. It is possible to make homecooked burgers healthier by using lean ground beef and wheat bread as well as healthy condiments. If you choose your ingredients carefully, it is possible to make a homecooked burger that only has about 67 cal/oz for a 4.5 oz sandwich.
Whether or not you choose to eat at home or have fast food, it is important to select healthy food whenever possible. Avoid trans fats and processed food, because these will have a negative effect on your health, HelpGuide.org explains. Choose healthy fats such as olive oil and fish oil instead. Instead of eating fruit pies or canned fruit, opt to eat more colorful fruits and vegetables that are fresh. Include fish and poultry in your diet, as well.
- HelpGuide.org: Heart Healthy Diet Tips Eating to Prevent Heart Disease and Boost Heart Health
- "Lancet"; Fast-Food Habits, Weight Gain, and Insulin Resistance (the CARDIA study): 15-year Prospective Analysis; Pereira MA, et al.; January 2005
- Mayo Clinic; Home Economics - Fast Food vs. Homemade; Jennifer Nelson, et al.; February 2009
- New York Times Health Guide; Fast Foods; Cynthia Dennison Haines; February 2007
- "Pediatrics"; Effects of Fast-Food Consumption on Energy Intake and Diet Quality Among Children In a National Household Survey; Bowman SA, et al.; January 2004