After a long week at the office or another hectic day running errands, who has the energy to cook when dinner time finally rolls around? But before you swing through the nearest drive-thru or gather the family and head to that new restaurant in town, here’s something to consider: your nutrition—and your waistline—may be in danger.
A new study conducted by researchers at the American Cancer Society and the University of Illinois at Chicago gathered data from more than 12,000 people across the country and found that dining out had a significant impact on their overall nutrition. Whether they opted for fast food or full-service dining, Americans consumed more calories, sugar, fat and sodium than they would if they had prepared a meal at home. Below is a by-the-numbers breakdown of what researchers found:
Eating Fast Food:
- 194.49 more calories
- 3.48 g more saturated fat
- 3.95 g more sugar
- 296.38 mg more sodium
Eating at a Full-service Restaurant:
- 205.21 more calories
- 2.52 g more saturated fat
- 451.06 mg more sodium
Similar studies have also found that Americans tend to eat fewer fruits and vegetables when we take a trip through the drive-thru, resulting in a more calories and fewer important vitamins. Study author Dr. Binh T. Nguyen worries that our fondness for eating out may be the reason the United States is one of the most obese nations in the world. “Our study confirms that adults’ fast-food and full-service restaurant consumption was associated with higher daily total energy intake and poorer dietary indicators,” he said in a recent article.
The good news? Having a quick and healthy dinner at home is not as daunting a task as it may seem. Do yourself a favor and plan ahead by shopping for key ingredients and preparing a weekly menu on Saturday or Sunday. You can even chop veggies or trim meats ahead of time for super quick preparation, and getting kids involved in the cooking process can make it feel like more of a family activity and less of a chore.
For delicious, healthful and easy-to-prepare meals the whole family can enjoy, be sure to visit our online Recipe Center!