Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Eat away

Pants, 654
A funny photo from my stay in India - and realizing that if I gained 200 pounds, I'd still fit into their pants!

Everyone out there who reads my blog knows that I'm a big fan of homecooked meals. Any day of the week, I'd rather experiment and try something new in my kitchen then eat take out - even after a grueling shift or day and night's worth of work. Why? Because good food makes me feel good. It's as simple as that. So, when I saw this article, using the Biggest Loser as a spring board to talk about the decline of home cooking, it got me thinking. Would I be much larger if I ate the same amount of food, but it was at restaurants (not even talking about fast food)? Probably so. Why don't restaurants cook healthy foods? I have no idea, but think it may be because it's cheaper to season something with fat (or oil or butter - all of which make food taste better) than use good, quality ingredients. Then, I got thinking about my daily diet.

I do eat half my meals out, but it's at the hospital cafeteria. I think that if it were elsewhere, I would be large enough to be a candidate on the Biggest Loser, but because it is in a hospital, it aims to be healthy (does the clam chowder really only have 4grams of fat? Maybe so, maybe not) and because I choose the right foods. And when I'm not in the hospital, I cook my own food. In college, it was a frugality thing - it was simply cheaper to cook my own food. However, I realize that sometimes I spend a lot on my ingredients and stocking my pantry, so frugality is not the sole reason any longer. I think now, I cook because I enjoy the actual process of making food and knowing exactly what goes in it (I braised a whole fish that was amazing last night - and only after I ate it did I realize I did not add any extra fat/oil to it).

I've always thought that if we made the same stuff restaurants made, we'd be amazed. We would be amazed at the amounts of oil used (a little bit of oil at home is very different than a little bit of oil in a restaurant). We'd be amazed at how few vegetables are actually in a dish. We would be amazed at how much artificial flavoring is used (including the infamous MSG - which is banned from my kitchen).

Now a short note on snacks. Snacks are the bane of any dieter's existence. They are almost always salty, sweet, fatty, fried, or all of the above. How do I keep away from the bad snacks? By keeping good ones ready to go in my fridge and cupboard so that I see, and reach for, those first instead of the bad snacks (which I admit I do have in the back of my cupboard). I wash bags of fruit so that I just grab them to eat. I boil and blanch green beans so that they're an easy grab and eat snack while I'm watching tv or reading. I drink lots and lots and lots of water (I can drink about a liter in one sitting if need be). And if you eat more whole grains in your meals, you'll be less hungry for snacks because they make you fuller for a longer period of time.

So, those are my two cents, and more, on healthy eating. Do I blame the entire obesity epidemic on the lack of home cooked meals? Of course not - I think that it's a lot of factors that just culminated and then are perpetuated. Do I think it can be cured by more home cooking? Not really. Will eating more home cooked meals help? Of course. Duh.

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