Fast food is not health foodThe fast food industry can’t carry all the blame for our expanding waistlines and bad food habits. The responsibility lies in the individual to choose quality food choices and not to settle for less. When the individual is a minor, it is the parent’s responsibility to make healthy choices for their child.

The fast food industry will change but only when we decide to make a change. When parents change their eating habits and demand quality ingredients the industry will be forced to meet these needs even if it results in higher costs.

The economy plays a huge role in nutrition and the obesity epidemic. We would expect a poor economy to result in a reduction in food consumption and overweight people. However, we have seen an increase in consumption of poor quality foods and food costs continue to rise. We head to the fast food restaurants for obvious reasons. Fresh food is more expensive, spoils quickly and it takes time to prepare a quality meal. Fast food chains alter their recipes by adding cheaper ingredients to cut costs.

It seems that portions are getting larger and larger at restaurants. However, the amount of protein in restaurant dishes are decreasing yet the amount of side dishes such as pasta and mashed potatoes continues to increase. It seems that you are getting more food for your money, but the food provides little nutritional value. Over time, we become accustomed to seeing more food on our plates and we will need more food to feel satisfied. Eventually, overeating becomes a way of life.

Alternatively, people in other countries such as Spain, we I am from, have a very different view of food preparation and attitudes towards food. Quality is of first importance, they don’t just eat anything that is available. Mealtimes are set so they don’t eat a convenient, fattening option on the go. The majority of the population won’t replace fast food with good food. Instead of looking for cheap inexpensive food from fast food restaurants, more Spaniards are cooking at home to cut costs.

The Step Up Diet - one week menu and grocery listIn the United States, we work hard and fast. We don’t feel we have the time for a daily trip to the grocery store and meal preparation. For just five dollars, we can purchase a large, satisfying meal loaded with carbohydrates and fats. But this bad habit is resulting in expanding waistlines and serious health concerns.

Shopping, cooking, and eating at home doesn’t have to be expensive and time-consuming. All it takes is a little planning to develop some consistent habits. I actually provide a one week menu and grocery list in my new book, The Step Up Diet.

About the Author

Dr. Katalenas

Dr. Katalenas is a pediatrician and owner of The Pediatric Center of Round Rock and the author of the book "The Step Up Diet: From Scratch… The Quality, Quantity, and Timing Solution to Childhood Obesity", a guide to healthy cooking and eating for busy families.