Survey data has recently shown that the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex spends the most money on restaurant food and alcohol compared to all other cities in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor, the national average of money spent on eating out is 5.16% of income, and the average American spends .94% of his or her income on alcohol. In Dallas, however, those numbers are 6.1% and 1.21%, respectively. According to the survey data, the average Dallas household spends $744 on alcohol per year. That’s a lot!
Dallas is an ambitious, business-forward city, which could partially explain why we spend so much money on eating and drinking out. The social and cultural expectations in Dallas lead people to believe that they need to spend their time at work, networking, or out in the city. Time spent at home becomes neglected. We leave very little time to spend preparing food at home and eating at home with loved ones. Eating at restaurants and consuming more alcohol than the national average is unlikely to lead people to achieving their health and wellness goals. For the purpose of your overall health and vitality, it is in your best interest to trade some of the eating out for cooking at home.
Michael Pollan, author of the book Cooked, asserts that our health through nutrition comes less from the actual nutrient and calorie content of foods and more from whether or not we make those foods at home. Pollan suggests that cooking at home is best for our physical, psychological, and social well-being, and that these aspects suffer when we eat out since we put our health in the hands of another. Pollen argues that cooking at home gives us independence and a sense of pride that we are taking control of our own health. He states that we have turned special occasion foods into everyday foods by allowing corporations to mass produce foods. His prime example is french fries, which take a lot of time and preparation to make at home, but two seconds to order at a fast food restaurant. If you made french fries at home, it would be a rare occasion that you would truly enjoy because of the preparation that went into making them. When cooking at home, people use far less sugar, oil, and salt than restaurants add to their food, which is another reason making food at your household may improve your health.
Alcohol is another big component of the eating out mindset. Sugar-laden fancy cocktails are rampant at Dallas happy hours.. There is also a lot of subtle pressure when you go out to eat to order a drink – a pressure typically absent in your own home. Alcohol takes priority to metabolize in your body, so when you drink and eat, your body spends its energy breaking down the alcohol before it can metabolize the food you ate. This is why consuming alcohol during your meals can cause your body to store more fat; your body is not able to process both the alcohol and all the food you ate.
So, it may be worth rethinking how many of your meals you eat out at restaurants and how often you go out for happy hour. If you have long-term health goals, especially related to fertility and women’s health, the money spent on eating and drinking out may be better spent buying high quality foods to prepare at home that will support optimal health and help you feel your best.
Living the typical Dallas lifestyle may make it difficult to transition to eating a more home-based, whole-foods diet. At Holistic Wellness, we help people to implement these changes by providing meal planning packages that consist of menus and recipes for the full week, complete with grocery lists. Taking the first steps can be challenging, but the lasting benefits you will see by cooking at home more will be well worth the effort.