I believe that healthy eating centers around meal planning, grocery shopping, and eating the majority of your meals inside your home. As the prevalence of obesity has risen over the years, so has the amount of food eaten out of the home. You can see in graph 1 that the prevalence of obesity and the percentage of household income spent on meals eaten outside of the home follow the same upward trend.
Now, you could argue that graph 1 is just another correlation and does not prove causation. You could replace “Eating Out” with “High Fructose Corn Syrup”, “Satellite TV Subscriptions”, or “Automobile Use” and probably see a similar trend.
However, you cannot argue that 1) we spend more money on meals eaten outside of the home (graph 1) and 2) that we also consume far more calories in meals eaten away from home compared to similar meals eaten within the home (graph 2).
A good friend of mine recently told me that when he eats out he is looking for 1) good food quality and/or 2) good food value.
1) Food Quality: Restaurant chains such as Chipotle, Subway, or Panera Bread market themselves as having only the freshest, most natural ingredients. Chipotle recently became the first restaurant to go genetically modified organism (GMO) free (I was surprised they weren’t already). Panera has published a “No-No- List” list of more than 150 ingredients that it is in the process of removing from its foods (these ingredients will be removed by the end of 2016).
Apparently both of these restaurants want you to forget about the 800-1200 calorie punch to the gut one of their burritos, sandwiches, or salads supplies. Their attitude seems to be “don’t worry, we use ‘healthy’ ingredients.” This completely ignores the concept that eating too many calories is the crux of the obesity epidemic, even if other factors do play a part in overall health. These restaurants pride themselves on food quality, which is important, but not the be all end all.
2) Food Value: Other restaurants such as McDonalds, Wendy’s, and pretty much any other fast food chain you can think of try to produce a great food value. There’s a reason why a burger, fries, and a drink is called a “value” meal. You are able to feed your family relatively cheaply at these establishments. This is a major selling point, and probably a bigger factor in many people’s decision making than food quality.
It’s no secret that restaurants serve large portions and load up their menu items on sugar, fat, and salt. There is a large incentive for restaurants to make your food taste incredibly good, for you to leave the restaurant completely satisfied, and for you to have enjoyed your experience there so much that you can’t wait to come back.
They have ZERO incentive to provide you with a healthy, portion-controlled meal. If they don’t provide you with extra salt, sugar, and fat someone else will and they then run the risk of losing you as a customer and we all know that new customers are very difficult and expensive to obtain.
Grocery stores provide superior food quality and superior food value when compared to restaurants, yet we still eat out even though we know the majority of restaurant offerings are not good for our health, but why?
The answer is: Labor and Convenience!
In our time-starved and hectic lives we don’t have the time to:
- figure out what we are going to eat for the week
- find a recipe to make the meals we have chosen to eat
- make a grocery list
- find time to travel to the grocery store and grocery shop
- put your groceries away
- prepare your fruits and veggies after grocery shopping
- find time to make the meal
- find the directions on how to make the meal or on how to make part of the meal (do you know how to make a baked potato without looking it up?)
- clean up dirty dishes after the meal
- put your leftovers away
In a fraction of the time you would spend completing all of these tasks, you can “put out the food fire emergency” by going through a drive thru and be done with another meal.
I think I have found a tool that can help you solve many of the challenges listed above, or at least make them less burdensome. It is the Paprika App, an online recipe manager.
I have made a video that takes you step-by-step in learning how Paprika mitigates many of the food planning and preparation issues that I have outlined above and how you can incorporate these suggestions into your own life.
View the video here:
In addition to the video above, I have created another video to show you how to use Paprika's updated "Google Search" function to find new meals and recipe ideas. The Paprika Recipe Manager was a very useful tool before, but now it's even better. With the Google Search function I can find a recipe in Google (I recommend using Google Images) and directly import the recipe into my Paprika recipe app library with one click of a button. This function has made my life so much easier. See how it can make your life easier by viewing the video below.
As I have written before, “All Diets are Created Equal (or Equally Bad)”. The macronutrient composition of your diet doesn’t matter as much as the quantity of food you consume. To create a sustainable diet plan, one that you can stick to in the long term, we need to take the foods you currently consume on a regular basis and tweak them to create a healthy diet.
Everyone is focused on trying to answer the wrong questions. The conversation should not be based on the merits of “low-carb versus low-fat”. That is an old, tiresome, argument that will never produce a clear winner. If you’re keeping score it’s 100 to 100 and soon it will be 200 to 200 and 500 to 500 in terms of research studies for and against one diet type or another. No one wins as long as this remains the center of our conversation (except maybe for “low-carb” and “low-fat” food vendors).
The conversation should be focused on overcoming day-to-day logistical obstacles to healthy eating (see bullet points above) and how we can overcome these obstacles, not on what the “ideal” diet is supposed to be, which we will never agree upon anyways and isn't achievable for the majority of people in real life conditions.
This is why I believe so strongly in using the Paprika recipe manager as part of the services I provide (and as part of my own life, for that matter). There is nothing inherently special about this specific recipe manager. It just happens to be the one that I am most familiar with using. There are probably other recipe managers out there that do the same thing. And there are thousands of products out there that do way more, yet less, than Paprika because they lose sight of what’s important in their gadgetry. There’s no need to track macronutrient breakdown, food group servings, or count calories. These are distractions, these are noise. The Paprika recipe manager contains everything you need to eat healthy.
If you have read this article and watched my videos and still aren’t sold on using Paprika to make your life easier, contact me. I would love to try to convince you! And if you give it a try, let me know what you think. I would love to hear about your experience. Maybe you can teach me a thing or two about how it has improved your eating habits!