What reason do folks mention for choosing fast food or pizza rather than cooking at home? Ninety-three percent stated it was for the convenience.

Caution with dining out

Man Cutting Pizza

Americans do enjoy eating out. It is a pleasurable and social activity. But it does drive up our weekly food spending budget and, depending upon choices, can contribute many extra calories. This is in part because of the serving sizes, the preparation techniques and the sweet beverages that we order on the side.

A recent study of almost 500 university employees sought to determine how often and why folks choose to go with fast food or to a pizza place. The majority of the survey participants were either overweight or obese.

The results found that 67 percent of those surveyed ate one meal per week in either a fast food restaurant or pizza place, and more of these folks were males. The greatest frequency was in those without a college degree. The lowest frequency of fast food and pizza dining was in those with a graduate or professional degree, and those at a healthy weight.

What reason did folks mention for choosing fast food or pizza rather than cooking at home? Ninety-three percent stated it was for the convenience. Half said it was to socialize with friends and co-workers.

The other notation from the researchers is that the decision to do fast food and pizza dining was an impulsive spur-of-the-moment decision. Impulsive behaviors are linked to unhealthier food choices and more calories consumed.

So before making the quick decision to go fast food or order out pizza, take a deep breath and think about whether there are other healthier options. If eating out is the only choice, is there a salad bar option close by? Can you find a place that features healthy wraps or soup and sandwich? If picking up pizza occurs frequently for dinner, could a healthier version be easily prepped at home? It makes sense to give all meals some advance thought so that you are not caught making an unhealthy impulsive decision.

Recipes to try:

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.