A lot of people will say it’s expensive and unhealthy to eat out a lot, but not everyone would agree. Plus, there are other consequences that we sometimes do not think of. Here are our family reasons for limiting the number of times we eat outside of the home.
1) Health reasons
Restaurants, from fast food to sit down, are trying to succeed in business. This is great. I’m all for new businesses and competition. This means that they will do what needs to be done to get your business. The problem is that most people world-wide are ignorant to what is often done and approved of at the national level within restaurants. If they did, then maybe we could all stand against these practices and cause the businesses to change just to get us to patron their establishments. But, as of today, most people are ignorant of these things and only get passionate about different food fads. For example, people in the late ’80s and ’90s became obsessed with fat and calories, yet we need calories for activity and we need fat for our bodies to operate properly. Eggs are good for you; no they’re bad. The milk industry says I should drink more milk (We’ll not get into companies and government influence on our opinions at this point).
Instead, people need to keep it simple. Think about what you are putting into your body as a whole. What does your body need for nutrition? Not what you are craving, but what would fuel your body?
- Portion Size. When you eat out, often you eat larger portions than you normally would at home. It’s there. You paid money for it. So you eat it all, or tell your kids to eat it all.
- Salt and Sugar!!!! Sugar is an addiction. A very strong one; I think stronger than caffeine or other drugs. But salt addiction goes right along with it. Salt is a good thing for your body, but we can take it to the extreme when we eat out. It will make you retain a great deal of water and feel horrible when you have too much. Yet, often when people crave a pop, what goes right along with it? Fries, of course! Sugar can make you feel full before you’ve given your body anything to run off of. And you wonder why you feel horrible half the time! I had very poor health from the time I was a young teen up until a year ago. I was very thin and did not nourish my body. I felt horrible, so I used sugar and caffeine to feel better. Then I would want something salty to go with it. Though I never gained a lot of weight (because of my exercise addiction), I could barely make it through the day. I was on a sugar roller coaster without nourishment. Only since cutting out the sugar completely have I started to feel better than I have my entire life!
- Lack of Real Nutrition – Most fast foods are so full of bad oils, salt, sugar, and preservatives that we are not giving our body what it needs. Again, our bodies need fuel, and food should be seen as such. That doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed, but we need to be aware of just what we are putting in our mouths and the mouths of our children (I am guilty of buying myself a salad and letting my kids get some junk sandwich with very little nutritional value). Even at sit down restaurants we are less likely to choose light and healthy meals that may have more nutritional value.
- Preservatives/Additives. There are a lot more than 1, 2 or even 5 preservatives in your average take out sandwich. It’s scary. And it’s not only take out. A lot of sit down restaurants use pre-made mixes, sauces, etc. that are full of additives and preservatives. I’ve learned a lot through my friends. One is allergic to any form of MSG. Though msg can be made naturally (one way is by adding salt to your yeast when making bread- autolyzed yeast), it is most often the man-made msg that is used by all types of restaurants. Also, my sister-in-law spoke of a funny white powder that they were required to add to the oil where she worked (grocery store deli). We found out it was an additive called Dimethylsiloxane (aka silly putty) to make the oil last longer before going rancid (Click here for more info.). Not to mention the exposure to petroleum-based food colorings.
2) Financial reasons
Most of us cannot afford to eat out multiple times per week; some of us can’t do it multiple times per month. Thus, when we do, we tend to try to eat at cheaper establishments, which only makes the health issues worse. If you can afford to eat out at much as you want, and you can eat at places where you know the food is healthier, please understand that there are still consequences (see below). Even places that claim to be healthy are often still using bad oils (vegetable, a.k.a. soy; canola or rape seed, often with Dimethylsiloxane), man-made msg, serve up too large of portions, and are much more rich than we would eat in an everyday lifestyle of eating.
3) Interference with Family Time
It is a rule in our house to eat at the table together each night. This is only occasionally broken when we have a pizza and movie night. We have purposefully made this a meaningful time. We teach table manners, politeness, and how to set the table. We talk to each other about our day. My husband has asked the kids since they were tiny what their favorite part of the day was, and what the worst part of the day was (if there was a worst part). We get into all kinds of great discussions this way. Our hopes is that this type of daily discussion will be so ingrained in them that they will continue to do so as they get older.
This family time is hurt when we eat out. We still have some kind of discussion, but it feels rushed, and there usually is not much depth. It also takes a lot more time so that our evening activities are cut into. We like to goof around, play games, read together. All of that is taken away when we go out to eat.
For some, eating out is the only time they can get their family to sit around the table together. I understand that, but perhaps some restructuring at home is necessary for the good of the family.
These three reasons are why we, as a family, have tried to limit our eating away from the home.