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With more than 40% of our nation now overweight or obese AND the average American family eating out 4-5 times a week; let’s break some things down.  Here are a few comments I hear quite frequently, which also happen to be some of the most common diet misconceptions in America:

  • “It is cheaper to eat out”
  • “I can eat whatever I want, if I am exercising”
  • “My family/kids  won’t eat healthy food”
  • “Carbs are fattening a high protein diet is the way to go for weight loss”
  • “Sit-down family dinners aren’t necessary – we’ll just grab something & go”

#1 –“ It’s cheaper to eat out – NOT!   Let’s just crunch some numbers.”

Say you have a family of four and you make the poor choice to eat at McDonalds for dinner.

2 adults meals = conservatively averaging around 1200 calories each = $14

2 happy meals= conservatively averaging around 700 calories each = $6

**This is with no desert**

TOTALING – $20 + tax AND 3800 calories for 4 people

Now, let’s take that same family of four to their local Harris Teeter.

4 chicken breasts = averaging about 250 calories each = $8

4 medium-sized sweet potatoes w/ butter = 110 calories each = $3

2 bunches of broccoli = 30 calories per cup = $3 total

TOTALING – $14 AND 1560 total calories for 4 people AND most likely with leftovers!!

Saving your family money and significant calories and saturated fat!!

#2 –“ I can eat whatever I want, if I am exercising – sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but not true!”

Your body is made to digest clean, whole foods. To lose weight, you must create a caloric deficit of 3500 calories – either through exercise or eating habits. You can exercise for 3 hours a day and twice on Saturday; but if you are eating that McDonalds meal for dinner, with a trip to Starbucks for a venti frap and doing a lot of mindless munching throughout the rest of your day – those calories quickly add up and you will find the pounds on the scale doing the same.

#3 – “My family/kids won’t eat healthy food.”

Uh um; ever heard of “lead by example?”  Your children watch your every move, if you think it or not; the words you use, the way you engage with others, what you watch on TV, what you read, how you spend your time, WHAT YOU EAT – they know!

Your family will not starve if you feed them a healthy dinner and they don’t eat it the 1st time, or the 5th time.  Keep introducing new foods and over time, I promise their eating habits will change!!  Start small and build (set small goals and build momentum!!)  Switch from white to whole grains; introduce new fruits and vegetables and get the kids to help pick them out at the store; try less red meat and more fish; instead of pasta, try quinoa; switch from those sugary breakfast cereals to whole grain/low sugar varieties.

#4 –“ Carbs are fattening a high protein diet is the way to go for weight loss.”

The truth is carbohydrates are your main source of energy and 55-60% of your diet should come from nutritionally dense complex carbs.  Can you lose weight on a carb-restricted diet?  Sure.  You can lose weight on just about any diet; for the short-term.  But a diet is a diet is a diet – you go on one, you come off one.  Make eating a lifestyle. Include whole grains, fruits and vegetables; making sure that your portions sizes are correct. It’s all about balanced healthy meals.

#5 – “It is not that important to have sit-down family dinners – we’ll just grab something & go”

I beg to differ with this one on several counts.  First, I feel that dinner time is the perfect opportunity to teach our children MANNERS that they will need for the rest of their lives; and that many kids are not aware even exist.  This is also the ideal setting to get your children to talk to you and open up about life, things happening at school, friends, etc.  Meanwhile, introducing them to a variety of fruits, vegetables and good food – setting the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating habits.

One study out of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine states, “Frequent family meals are associated with a lower risk of smoking, drinking and using marijuana; with a lower incidence of depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts; and with better grades in 11 to 18 year olds”.

And believe me, I am well aware of the craziness that clogs all of our calendars these days; but try to aim for at least 3- 4 weekly family meals together to build a good foundation for our kids.

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