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You have likely heard about how eating more fast food and convenience foods are not helping the health of our nation.  Rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes have all been on the rise since the increase of fast food and other restaurant foods have taken the place of eating at home. 
Regular fast food consumption we know isn’t good, but did you know that it is associated with obesity and heart disease (a leading cause of death in the United States)? 
But is there really that big of a difference between cooking at home and eating out? Isn’t a salad a salad … or a French fry a French fry, no matter where it’s from?
A salad from McDonalds is not very big and yet is has 470 calories. Not too bad if it’s your main meal (and you’re not planning to eat it alongside a burger and fries), but … it also has 115mg of cholesterol (from eggs and milk in the dressing, which is saturated fat), 1380mg of sodium and only 7 grams of fiber. This salad also has nearly 100 ingredients! 
I could make a HUGE and delicious salad at home with the following ingredients: Description Amount Unit Calories Organics, Mixed Baby Spring Greens, Fresh 5 Oz 25.01 Hass Avocado 0.5 each 113.56 Tomato, Raw, Includes Cherry, Grape, Roma Value 2 Value 3 Value 3 Organics 0.5 cup, chopped 16.2 Cucumber, Raw, With Peel 0.5 cup, chopped 10.65 Eden, Organic Black Beans, Canned, Unsalted 1 1/2 cup 110 Peppers, Sweet Yellow, Raw 1 cup, chopped 40.23 Pico de Gallo, Fresh Red Salsa 0.25 cup 8.43 Green Onions, Tops Only 3 Stalk 9.72 Peas, Green, Frozen, Cooked, Boiled, Drained, Without Salt 1 cup, whole pieces 124.8 Celery, Raw 1 cup, diced 14.14
This salad would be tasty and SUPER filling. Truly, this could be a full meal on its own for sure. The calories are about the same as the McDonald’s salad above only this salad has 0 cholesterol/saturated fat, half the sodium/546mg of sodium (naturally occurring, not added table salt) and 27 grams of fiber (which means it’s MUCH more filling). This amount of fiber might even make it hard for you to finish in one setting!
Here is all of that in a chart from so it’s easy to seeNutrient McDonald’s salad Made at home salad Calories 470 473 Fat 23 13 Protein 34 24 Carbohydrates 34 75 Fiber 7 27 Cholesterol 115 0 Iron 3 12 Calcium 150 308
Also note: The homemade salad has a higher water content, no common allergens (no eggs or dairy) and more micronutrients. Additionally, more fiber means an improved microbiome as well! 
Reasons to cook/prepare your own food at home for improved health
- You know what is in your food when you make it yourself
This makes it easier to avoid toxins such as preservatives, food dyes, nitrates and additives. These ingredients have many ill effects on health. Food dyes have been associated with attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity in children.  Nitrates can harm the thyroid and dysregulate it. 
Many additives such as thickeners, emulsifiers and others can suppress the immune system as well is hinder proper metabolism leading to obesity.  Some emulsifiers have been found in animal studies to cause dysbiosis and other gut disorders. 
2. You have at least some control over how fresh it is
Although you may not be able to determine how long it took from the time your food was harvested to when it was delivered to your grocery store, you can control how long it sits in your kitchen or refrigerator. Shopping at least once/week allows you to use fresh food regularly rather than relying on processed or frozen meals.
3. You consume safer food
When eating at home you can ensure that your food is organic, whole and relatively untouched. When eating out, you have little to no control over the food handling practices of those preparing your food. This increases the likelihood of foodborne illness.
4. It may be easier to control portion sizes
Eating out is associated with overeating in most cases as few Americans have a good understanding of what a portion of a given food actually looks like on a plate. 
When you prepare food at home, you can make just enough for those who you are dining with. It’s also easier to take other measures to control portions such as using smaller plates and putting extra food away right away so it’s not sitting in front of you tempting you to finish it off.
5. You can add specific ingredients that help improve your individual health challenges
The opposite is also true. You can avoid certain ingredients that you know will harm your health either in general or specifically in your unique circumstance. Eating out on the other hand, your food is premade with added poor-quality salt, oils and other preservatives which are not health promoting. 
6. You are more likely to get and maintain an ideal body weight 
For most people, eating out means bigger portions and more calorically dense food choices, both of which are not conducive to a proper body weight.
You don’t have to be a master chef to cook simple, fast and delicious food at home. Your health and your budget will thank you! Remember that YOU are the treasure and you are worth the best quality fuel. Love yourself the way you love your loved ones. If you need help don’t hesitate to reach out. Call the clinic to schedule your consultation today!
Nothing said or implied in this post is intended to treat, cure, diagnose or prevent any disease. It does not take the place of a health care practitioner. It is for educational purposes only.
This article was originally published at New Hope Health Blog.
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