Eat out less, at home more

By Christie Mayer
Dec. 13, 2016 at midnight
Updated Dec. 14, 2016 at 6 a.m.

Christie Mayer

Christie Mayer   Contributed Photo for The Victoria Advocate

Many people are eating at restaurants and fast food places more often. It is fun, it's easy, and people don't cook like they used to. As people age, many say it's easier to pick something up than cook for two people, or I cooked for my kids my entire life, I can afford to go out to eat and I'm going to.

There are many reasons that going out to eat is not the best choice.

Portion sizes are typically larger than we should be eating. Many people will eat all of their food because their eyes are bigger than their stomach. Eating at restaurants is an easy way to overeat without realizing it.

Meals at restaurants and fast food places try to make their food as tasty as possible. The dishes often have more calories than meals you would make at home. A single meal can easily go over 1,000 calories, which is half of some people's daily caloric needs.

The sodium content of food when eating out is also higher than you may prepare at home. Many meals provide more than 2,000 mg.

Eating at restaurants or fast food joints may increase your risk of obesity, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Even when choosing entrees and sides that are seemingly healthier (such as salads or vegetables), they are typically still very high in calories and sodium.

Here are some tips to make dining at home easier:

Plan ahead; pick a day of the week to do your grocery shopping. Prepare your food for the ease and convenience needed during the week. For example: on Sundays, I buy my groceries. I wash and cut up my fruit and vegetables so that it's quick and easy to eat when needed. I buy a larger package of lean ground beef and portion it and freeze it so that when I'm cooking, I just cook what I need and don't overeat or have a lot of leftovers. I also wash and keep my lettuce in my salad spinner so that my lettuce is washed and ready when I want a salad.

Keep snacks and meals ready and on hand. By planning ahead and prepping my food for the week, throwing a sandwich, salad or a meal together doesn't take very long. I usually cook enough in the evening for my dinner and lunch the next day. By having my lunch bag ready to go, I rarely feel the need to go out to eat for lunch.

If you're cooking for two, use cookbooks that target couples or two people. You can also look online or check out recipes on choosemyplate.gov.

If you have an occasion to go out to eat. Here are some great tips to eat as healthy as possible:

Order water or unsweetened tea instead of sugary beverages

Start with a dinner salad with dressing on the side

Choose main dishes served with vegetables

Order grilled, steamed or broiled dishes instead of fried

Avoid buffets and desserts

No matter if you're choosing to eat at home or eat out, practice mindful eating.

Mindful eating is a technique that helps you gain control over your eating habits. You would ask yourself, "Am I really hungry?" or "Am I full?" Asking yourself questions like this may help you make better food choices and eat more balanced and healthier meals.

Christie Mayer is a licensed renal dietitian with Davita Dialysis Center of Victoria.


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