There isn’t just one reason why obesity and weight gain are such big problems in the U.S. Like anything else, this is a complicated issue, and many factors have gotten us to the metabolic decline we are in today.
The incentives in place across our agricultural, food, and healthcare systems are all upside down and not for our benefit.
Our agricultural system is incentivized to grow genetically modified, pesticide-laden, calorie-dense monoculture crops like corn and soy because that is what the government subsidizes them to do.
Our food system is incentivized to make hyper-palatable foods with cheap, ultra-processed ingredients made to taste so good that we tend to overeat them.
And our healthcare system is incentivized to keep us all sick because healthy people are not profitable.
But that is all big-food, big-pharma stuff that, unfortunately, we have little to no control over. Except to reduce our purchasing it 😉
What is something practical that we have control over in our day-to-day that can help us maintain a healthy weight?
Fast food and takeout, door dash, and the other ways to easily access ultra-processed foods. How often do we eat it, and what do we order when we do?
Did you know that eating one meal away from home per week translates to adding roughly two extra pounds each year?
Now, two pounds over an entire year may not sound like a lot but think about that over the course of 10 years. That is 20 pounds eating ONLY ONE meal away from home.
Most people are eating out a lot more often than that. A lot more.
Today, people are ordering more takeout and drive-through meals than ever before. According to the National Restaurant Association, delivery is up more than 5%, and drive-through is up 13%. Over half of U.S. adults say purchasing takeout or delivery food is essential to the way they live, including 72% of millennials and 66% of Gen Z adults.
So does this mean that you have to avoid restaurants at all costs? Nope, but a bit of a strategy can make a big difference and help unwanted weight gain. One study found that participants who were given nutrition strategies to navigate getting takeout actually lost weight despite NOT eating takeout less often.
Skipping meals before getting takeout or eating out at a restaurant isn’t a good idea. While some people try to “save room” for a meal at a restaurant, this can leave you hungrier and more likely to overeat. If you have ever hit chips and salsa a little too hard because you were starving when you sat down to eat, you know exactly what I am talking about.
Another tip is to always get dressings, marinades, and sauces on the side. Those are packed with extra calories, and whoever makes your food always tends to have a heavy hand. You can also ask that food be cooked “dry,” eliminating oil when making your meal, saving you hundreds of calories and reducing inflammation.
And finally, once you get your meal, eat the protein and vegetables first, chew slowly, and enjoy the rest of your food so that you are less likely to overeat.
There are many reasons why obesity has spiraled into such a big problem for us in the U.S., but how often you get takeout is a factor that we all have control over. Eating a home-cooked meal is always the better choice, but what you order and how you order it can also make a difference in avoiding unwanted weight gain.