Is Eating At Home Healthier Than Dining Out?
Do you prefer heading out to your favorite (or perhaps nearest) restaurant for meals rather than cooking at home? If so, you’re not alone. We get it! Dining out, whether heading through a drive-thru or sitting down at your favorite restaurant, is often more convenient and sometimes even more delicious than cooking your own food at home. Even those who love to cook need a break from the kitchen every now and then – but is dining out versus eating at home a healthy and nutritious option? Doesn’t it seem that eating at home is the healthier option? This is a question we recently received from a reader and set out to find the answer!
For more information, we reached out to Ethan Bergman, PhD, RD, CD, FADA, Associate Dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies and Professor of Food Science and Nutrition at Central Washington University, and food and nutrition consultant Judy Barbe, MS, RDN. What did they have to say? Is it healthier to eat at home than it is to dine out? The answer is…
It all depends on you, the consumer!
Both Dr. Bergman and Judy Barbe agree that this question can’t be answered with a simple yes or no.
Dr. Bergman says: “When a person eats at home and prepares the food themselves, they have control over the ingredients that are added to foods. Home eating also provides the opportunity to select foods that lead to good health. But eating at home is no guarantee that the foods prepared and selected will be healthier or more nutritious. A person preparing the home meals may add ingredients that lead to chronic disease such as heart disease and diabetes.”
Because you have more control over what you’re eating when you choose to prepare it yourself, it’s more likely that it will contain fewer calories than restaurant meals. Judy Barbe refers to a recent study on meals where researchers found that those who choose to eat home-cooked meals actually do end up eating healthier and consuming fewer calories. The study, which will be published online in the journal Public Health Nutrition, also found that those who cooked dinner at home at least six to seven times a week consumed an average of 2,164 calories daily, while those who dined out more, cooking at home no more than once a week, consumed an average of 2,301 calories daily.
Both experts point out that there are certain circumstances that may lead to dining out being considered unhealthy. Judy Barbe asks, when you eat out are you celebrating with cocktails and foods you wouldn’t normally eat at home? Do you start off with a bread or tortilla chip basket? Do you order an appetizer plus the fried shrimp and fries? Are you choosing steamed, broiled, or grilled versions? Restaurant serving sizes tend to be generous. Are you taking half home? Dr. Bergman agrees that when eating in a restaurant, a person may overeat as a consequence of finishing the entire portion that is served.
What have we learned? Dining out can be just as healthy as eating at home – it’s all about the choices you make! While cooking at home gives you total control over what you are consuming and may often lead to a healthier, more balanced meal, we understand that sometimes you need a break and would rather someone serve you! If you do choose to head out for your next meal, stick to registered dietitian Carolyn O’Neil’s Restaurant Road Rules to help you determine a better route to nutritious eating at your favorite restaurant.
Nowadays, some people like to eat at home and prepare food by themselves but others prefer to eat outside in restaurants or at food stands. As far as I am concerned, I prefer to eat at home. Of course, there are some advantages eating out. Firstly, restaurants offer a more comfortable environment to eat and the food there tastes more delicious than home-cooked meals. Everyone has different favorite dishes and restaurants may satisfy all tastes of its customers. In addition, eating at restaurants is a good way of getting together with friends. People go to restaurants so that they have a private space to discuss something. Many people think that it is easier to do a business when they eat and negotiate at the same time. They do not need to worry about washing dishes and clearing. For people who are busy to cook, eating out is certainly an ideal choice. Furthermore, for people do not know how to cook and do not have someone to cook for them, eat out seems to be the only choice.
However, many other people prefer to eat at home. This is because eating at home is much cheaper than eating at restaurants. Instead of spending money for expensive meals at a restaurant, people can prepare for a meal and save lots of money for other purposes, so that they do not want to go restaurants for lunch or dinner. Other people choose to eat at home just because they would like to spend time with their families. While having dinner at home, for example, they can share their happiness and troubles in jobs with their folks or even talk about a television program they like best. I think that whether people eat at a restaurant or at home, the most important thing is whether they feel comfortable or not.
However, if I have to choose, I will eat at home because it is a way to save my money and above all, I can have a good time with my family. The main reason is that at home family members can prepare their meals and enjoying their food together, which can enhance their relationships. Family members can talk, make jokes and exchange feelings on current affairs with each other while preparing a meal.
Parents have a chance to communicate with their kids and keep track of what they are thinking and doing; while children can learn to help with some household tasks and develop intimacy with their parents. Imagine that you and your brothers and sisters help your mother to cook on weekend, and enjoy the food later on, and you feel everything is so nice. General speaking, eating out side is comfortable and convenient, but eating at home has more benefits. I prefer to eat at home.