When it comes to good nutrition, there is little doubt that eating out is inferior to dining at home. People whose lifestyles dictate that they primarily eat on the road are coming out the worst for it. Studies show that foods prepared at restaurants—whether fast-food or sit down—are higher in calories, saturated fat, salt and sugar, and lower in dietary fiber. A recent European study has even found a link between eating fast-food and the increased incidence of allergies, asthma and eczema in children.
According to an international collaboration that included researchers in New Zealand, Spain, Australia, Germany and the UK, young teenagers are particularly likely to have severe asthma (nearly 40% greater incidence) if they eat burgers and other types of fast-food more than three times a week. For children aged six to seven the risk increased by 27%. Children eating fast-food were also more likely to get severe eczema and rhinitis (stuffy, runny nose and itchy, watery eyes). The results were published in the journal Thorax.
Despite being too soon to show causation, the paper says that the link between fast-foods and asthma/allergies is entirely plausible. It could be “related to higher saturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids, sodium, carbohydrates and sugar levels of fast-food and possibly preservatives”.
Yes, every compounds above could potentially be the culprit, if causation is actually determined. But it may even be simpler than that. Last post I discussed the four dietary universals—energy, nutrition, hydration and environment—and I also discussed how a junk food diet increased the likelihood of having none of the universals satisfied, so it is also possible that the resulting sub-clinical malnourishment from a chronic fast-food diet can lead to an overall weakening of a body’s constitution, thereby setting it up for immune dysfunction.
Here’s the skinny (pun intended, pun intended!): Repeatedly eating out is murder on the body. It doesn’t matter how “nice” the restaurant might be, food prepared outside of the home will nearly always have more calories, preservatives, salt and sugar than food prepared at home—it’s got to taste good, fer crying out loud. And it will always have a higher probability of causing foodborne illness (food poisoning). Not that one can’t get food poisoning from food prepared inside their own kitchen, but realize this: Food from a restaurant touches an inordinately greater amount of hands than the food you purchase fresh. Yes, foods obtained at a grocery store are handled as well, no doubt, but food at restaurants is handled way more, believe me. I worked in restaurants for years. I know.
Listen, eating out is fun. Some of the most amazing food I’ve ever experienced has been at restaurants, but anything more than occasionally just isn’t conducive to optimal health. The bad news is that Americans in general, and probably the entire western world, seem to be eating out more than ever before. A new report from USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) reveals food prepared away from home—whether eaten in restaurants, fast-food and other locations, or as take-out or delivery to be eaten at home—is now a routine part of most Americans’ diets, accounting for 41% of food expenditures and 32% of caloric intake.
The good news, on the other hand, is that a 2011 survey showed that home cooking has become an increasingly popular among younger generations (18-35 year-olds). Wonderful! That’s the way it should be. I am pleased to see young folk interested in this type of living—it’s smart and will take them farthest with regard to health and quality of life.
I’ve included a video below to gross you out. I am grateful for the access to this kind of information on the Web, because people should know what they actually don’t see behind a kitchen’s closed doors. Enjoy, but have barf-bag handy.