Is “Convenience” food really convenient?

While I was showering this morning, I was thinking about the relationship between home cooking, versus prepared foods vs. fast food restaurants and the relationship with today’s wave of obesity.

My thoughts took me back to the root of fast food and prepared “convenience” foods. If you think about it, before the advent of television and TV dinners and the rise of the fast food chains, the majority of people cooked meals from scratch. I look at pictures of my parents and their friends from the 40s and 50s and there isn’t a single obese person in sight. At that time, people cooked from scratch.  It was cheaper – and now we know – healthier.  They controlled the amount of fat, salt and all ingredients that went into the meal.

Recently, I came across a picture of a group of my family and relatives.  It was taken 10 years ago at my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. Everyone looked pretty good.  I’m sure that most of the adults would admit to wanting to lose a few pounds.  However, there were perhaps 2-3 people in a group of 75 that may have fallen into the obese category. That would be 30 lbs over the normal weight for the height, age, etc.  Knowing my family and relatives, the majority of us still cook from scratch.

Every day I see that advertisements for the new food that commercial enterprises are trying to entice me to buy.  Despite my busy lifestyle, I make most of our meals using vegetables, grains, meat and dairy products. There will be the occasional frozen or canned vegetable that makes its way into the meal but overall, they are basic ingredients. This way, I have complete control over the ingredients used to make a meal that is easy, healthy and delicious.

You have no control over the ingredients in a prepared dinner or the fast food meal you purchase. Home cooking is under your control and is cheaper than the alternatives above.

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Diet Myths

Diet Myth Food Photo

A while back, the Toronto Star featured an interesting article titled “Four diet myths, one good food habit”. The tagline was “Focus less on magic formula of macronutrients and more on eating quality options – and on eating less”.

The article, written by Dr. Mike Evans, Associate professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine and Chair of Patient Engagement at the Centre for Child Nutrition and Health, University of Toronto was quite blunt in stating that diets don’t work.

Only one in six people who lose weight on a diet manages to keep the weight off. The rest put the weight back on, and for many, a few additional pounds as well. Diets don’t work but lifestyle changes do. The magic formula isn’t magic at all.

  • Eat less meat.
  • Eat more fruit, vegetables and nuts.
  • Eat fewer desserts and sweets (fruit aside).
  • Shop for single ingredient food in the outer aisles of the grocery store and cook your own meals.
  • Eat smaller portions.
  • Make small changes.
  • Don’t expect instant results.

Here is an example of a tangible, simple change that you can make.

Replace desserts with fruit in two meals over the course of your week. Do this for two weeks. On week three and four pick two more meals where you will replace fruit for cookies and pastries. Repeat the above recommendation until you have one or two days where the cookies and pastries are a special treat rather than the norm. Over time, this small change can amount to positive results and even a weight reduction that is totally painless.

The idea is to turn mindless overeating to mindless healthy eating.

Happy, mindless healthy eating.