We're a Fast-Food Nation. But We Need to Slow Down.

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We eat in our cars, at our desks, on the go, in front of the TV. We eat drive-through, take-out, delivered, packaged and prepared meals.

We need to slow … down.

Consumer trends around the globe show that over the past three decades people are purchasing more prepared foods at the grocery and eating out more. It’s projected that we’ll spend a record amount at restaurants in 2011. We’re consuming an increasing number of calories and bigger portions. Simultaneously, we’re getting less healthy.

While debates rage over the food industry’s contribution to our growing waistlines and our resulting health problems, the bottom line is this: What we eat, where we eat and how we eat are all 100% under our control. We can choose to eat a fast-food lunch on the go (spending that extra $6 and adding 150 calories to our day). We can throw a frozen meal in the microwave and call it dinner.

Or, we can dedicate an hour of the day to cook and enjoy a meal with our families. We can spend a few minutes in the morning to eat a healthy breakfast. Eating sensibly doesn’t take much time or money, but it does require you to make a conscious decision to do so. Here are some steps you can take:

Eat "The Plate." Check out the new USDA Dietary Guidelines, which makes it super easy to understand how your meals should be composed, with fruits and vegetables taking up most of the plate, and grains and proteins each accounting for one-fourth of the meal. 

Eat local. It's so, so important to choose fresh food that hasn't been shipped from Timbuktu to your grocery. Here's more scoop on why local food is key to keeping your family healthy and fit

Shop carefully. Many packaged and prepared foods you find on your grocery shelves contain hidden salt, added sugars and more calories than you'd expect. So make the time to read labels. (Yes, I know that's hard when the kids are restless and you just want to get the shopping done.) Think about what packaged products you could make—more cheaply!—at home. Why buy bottled salad dressing when it's so easy to make your own homemade salad dressing (here's how)

Watch the coupons. Buy-one-get-one on boxed toaster pastries seems like a good deal. But is it? Are coupons prompting you to purchase items your family doesn't need, or buy in greater quantities than you should? Be mindful about using coupons. 

Are you trying to adopt a "slow food" approach to cooking and eating in your family? Tell us about your ideas in the comments!

 

Bryn Mooth, writer & editor

Visit writes4food.com for easy & healthy recipes, kitchen tips & more

Main page photo by Richard Elzey/Flickr

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