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Eating In VS Dining Out

Updated on March 8, 2015

Is fast food really worse for you?

‘Eating out is unhealthy’, how many times have we been fed that piece of information? It’s everywhere we turn, people reprimanding people for choosing to stop at the nearest fast food place for a quick bite before going on with their busy lives. But have them that judged actually crunched the numbers?

The term ‘eating in’ means something else totally different than it used to. It used to mean home cooked meals made from scratch. It meant spending an hour simmering, chopping and stirring. But today, with mother’s working to bring in extra income for their families, it means pulling something out of the freezer that takes twenty minutes. So, by today’s standards, is eating in better than dining out?

There are several fast food chains that could be reviewed and compared to the ‘home cooked’ version. I have chosen two of my personal favorites, Taco Bell and Mcdonalds. Please keep in mind that the figures for the ‘home cooked’ meals are estimates compiled from fatsecret.com and the restaurant’s info is from their direct website.

For the first comparison, I actually put the crunchwrap together myself, as there aren’t any versions in the frozen section of my local Kroger (not yet at least) and it only takes minutes to put together. The ingredients can be found at any grocery supermarket. The ingredients for the ‘Home Cooked Crunchwrap’ include: 1 taco shell, 1 hashbrown square, 1 scrambled egg, 1 cup of cheese, 1 slice of bacon.

Comparison 1:

Taco Bell’s A.M. Crunchwrap with Bacon VS (Home Cooked Version)

Calories: 660 (694)

Saturated Fat: 12 grams (17 grams)

Total Fat: 41 grams (36 grams)

Cholesterol: 130 milligrams (245 milligrams)

Sodium: 1280 milligrams (1021 milligrams)

Carbs: 51 grams (63 grams)

Fiber: 4 grams (3 grams)

Sugar: 3 grams (4 grams)

Protein: 22 grams (18 grams)

Now that we have some numbers, how about a breakdown on what some of that means, and then you can decide for yourself. Let’s start with calories. Say the word out loud and people start running. But do people know what their daily calorie consumption should be? Health professionals say around 2000 calories per day is necessary to upkeep energy, but it truly depends on the individual’s activity level. Does six hundred calories sound like falling off the weight watcher’s train? That’s just slightly over one-fourth what your doctor recommends! That means that after consuming one Taco Bell A.M. Crunchwrap you can consume another six hundred calories for lunch and dinner.

Fat sounds like a bad thing out right. But fat is also required to maintain energy. Our bodies are designed to take fat and break it down into energy molecules. However, these fats should be consumed responsibly, and kept to a minimum. As you can see, Taco Bell has the minimum.

Sodium intake has been debated for a few years now. The understanding however, is that sodium consumption should be kept under 1000 milligrams.

Carbs is another area of great debate. While there’s no real estimate as to how many carbs is too many carbs, it is recommended to stay on the leaner side of them, as they are believed to be responsible for high blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart disease.

The two nutrients that we actually want to hear: fiber and protein. Fiber has been proven to prevent a multitude of diseases as well as keeping the colon loose. Protein is necessary to rebuild muscle used throughout the day and it is recommended to get 46 to 56 grams a day.

Are you convinced? Have you decided yet on what’s for dinner? No! Then how about another comparison?

Comparison 2

McDonald’s 4 Piece Chicken Nuggets VS Banquet 5 Piece Chicken Nuggets

(For this comparison we use frozen chicken nuggets from a prominent company.)

Calories : 169 (230)

Fat : 10 grams (14 grams)

Saturated: 2 grams (5 grams)

Cholesterol: 25 milligrams (35 milligrams)

Sodium : 447 milligrams (430 milligrams)

Carbs : 10 grams (15 grams)

Fiber : 0 grams (1 grams)

Sugar : 0 grams (1 grams)

Protein : 10 grams (10 grams)

While a McDonald’s meal includes fries and soda and a few extra pieces of chicken, it’s easy to tell that a number 10 combo would not be worse for you than if you were to make it yourself at home.

Now that’s not to say that fast food is healthy. There are a few things that aren’t mentioned on the fast food websites about nutrition. Like vitamins and minerals. They simply aren’t listed and, yet, it’s one of the most important pieces of information when it comes to monitoring your health. Not eating a lot of carbs and watching sodium isn’t the only step to healthier eating. While a fast food trip every other day won’t hurt, it’s important to remember to add vitamins and minerals throughout the rest of your day in other meals.

Hopefully this article will get out to those hating on fast food chains. Not everything you read or hear can be trusted. Not even this article! I challenge you to do the math for yourself. Fatsecret.com allows you to enter your favorite foods in their search engine and they supply the numbers for you. Give it a try to see what your nutritional intake is every day.

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    • Akriti Mattu profile image

      Akriti Mattu 

      3 years ago from Shimla, India

      What a sensible post.

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