• convenience kills

Convenience Kills

A fairly constant pattern we see among overweight and obese individuals is the habit of eating out. Many people today don’t like to cook and they eat less than half their meals at home. This convenience kills and can lead to food addiction as you lose control of what goes in your food.

It is true that people eat out because of convenience but many have unwittingly become habituated to the high salt, fat and sugar content of these foods. It doesn’t happen overnight, but food addiction is the reason why many people find it difficult to stop eating certain foods.

Processed foods and some convenience foods are designed with a procedure called layering. This is a technique where fat, sugar and salt is layered on more fat, sugar and salt made even more appealing by adding chemically engineered flavoring all of which creates an addictive effect.

If you think that might be a bit of sensationalism, let’s take a look at a typical hamburger from a fast food restaurant:

  • The bun has salt, sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, canola oil, and partially hydrogenated oil.
  • The hamburger patty contains a large amount of fat, sugar and salt.
  • It’s then topped with bacon, cheese, ketchup and a bit of special sauce adding even more fat, sugar and salt.

It’s not hard to understand why people develop strong cravings for their favorite fast-food hamburger and how eating out leads to a weight problem.

Food Addiction

Some people think there’s no such thing as food addiction and that people simply need to exercise more self-control and eat less. But all foods don’t elicit the same response. People don’t binge on broccoli and apples like they do with cookies, chips and ice cream. Studies have confirmed that industrially processed sugar, fat and salt-laden foods are biologically addictive.

To make things worse, restaurant and take-out food portions are now way out of control. Rather than compete on quality, which would be a good thing, competitors focus on quantity. Cost conscious consumers are lured by huge portions and low prices and there appears to be little concern for the quality of the food.


ELH DIET on amazon


Is It Really Cheaper To Eat At Home

It’s a fairly common assumption that it’s cheaper to eat out or to swing by a grocery store and pick up a prepared meal like a barbecued chicken with a salad and box of chips. A lot of people seem to think that it would cost just as much to make a quick meal at home. That’s a mistake because that dinner will cost you about $20 and you could have made a much healthier chicken stir fry for half the price and about the same amount of time that was spent driving to and from the store.

The Home Cooked Advantage

Most home cooked meals aren’t cooked in a deep fat fryer and we don’t add high fructose corn syrup to the meals we prepare with fresh ingredients. You would have a hard time making a home cooked meal as unhealthy as take out or convenience foods like frozen pizzas, fried egg rolls  or any complete frozen meal offering for that matter.

A home cooked meal is not subjected to processes that strip the food of nutrients or fiber and you don’t end up consuming a lot of empty calories.

Less Added Salt

Excess salt encourages weight gain in three ways:

  • Salt makes your body retain more water.
  • Salty foods increase thirst and people often quench that thirst with beverages that are packed with calories.
  • Salt encourages overconsumption.

Most people get about 70 percent of the salt in their diet from convenience and processed foods. And once they get used to really salty food, they automatically start adding more salt to the food cooked at home. All this extra salt raises your blood pressure and increases your risk for heart attack and stroke.

No Trans Fats

Trans fats are manmade fats that are used in processed foods to make the food taste better and last longer. They raise your bad cholesterol and lower the good cholesterol that protects you against heart disease. Look for words like hydrogenated oils, or partially hydrogenated oils. Oils marked ‘fully hydrogenated’ should be free of trans fats, but I prefer to buy top quality cold pressed oils.

Trans fats are found in most processed foods including cookies and baked goods, popcorn, crackers, chips, frozen waffles and french fries. Margarines and vegetable shortening that are marketed as a healthy replacement for butter contain trans fat!

Less Sugar and No HFCS

Most convenience foods are loaded with added sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). Eating too much sugar has a bad effect on your metabolism that goes way beyond calorie content. It also leads to overeating because sugar loaded food causes your blood sugar level to shoot up and then drop below pre-meal level. Once you are back in low sugar space you crave more sugar to ‘pick you up’ in a cycle that keeps repeating every 15 to 30 minutes.

Convenience Kills

The only way you can control what goes into the food you eat is to make your meals at home. It allows you to take full control over the freshness, quality and portion size, and you also get to decide how much salt, sugar and fat is in your diet. There’s no high fructose corn syrup or MSG in your diet, and you should save money as well.

As with anything, the more you do it the easier it gets and you will eventually become a pretty good cook if you are so inclined.

Before you know it, your meals could compete with what’s being offered in the better restaurants.


ELH DIET on amazon


About the Author:

Robert Lalonde is the author of The ELH Diet - The Easy Way to be Lean & Healthy


  1. Avatar
    Malissa January 24, 2016 at 2:39 pm - Reply

    This is exactly my problem, but I just don’t have the time or the skill to cook.

    • Robert
      Robert February 1, 2016 at 1:29 pm - Reply

      We all need to learn to make time for the important things in life Malissa. A healthy diet, friends, family, exercise and social activities are all things we need to make time for.

      I always suggest to cook a large meal on Saturday and again on Sunday so you have leftovers to provide easy to make meals during the week if you have a busy schedule.

      As far as skill goes, that comes with time and practice.

  2. Avatar
    Josh December 13, 2015 at 4:48 am - Reply

    I don’t know why more people don’t get this.

  3. Avatar
    Marion December 1, 2015 at 7:27 pm - Reply

    Simply wish to say your article is spot on.

  4. Avatar
    Sharon October 13, 2015 at 1:44 am - Reply

    It’s called food addiction.

  5. Avatar
    Bev August 25, 2015 at 12:06 pm - Reply

    Thanks very nice blog!

  6. Avatar
    BEAR August 22, 2015 at 3:35 am - Reply

    Great post.

  7. Avatar
    Magda August 15, 2015 at 2:48 pm - Reply

    People should make sure they go to a gym if they do eat out.

  8. Avatar
    Veronica August 13, 2015 at 7:23 am - Reply

    I was probably better off not knowing this.

  9. Avatar
    Angelina August 13, 2015 at 4:28 am - Reply

    Wow! Explains the lineups at fast food joints.

  10. Avatar
    Gretta August 8, 2015 at 8:09 am - Reply

    Yes, get the word out. The younger generation especially needs to get this message.

  11. Avatar
    Heath August 4, 2015 at 8:23 am - Reply

    Do some fast food chains serve better food than others?

    • Robert
      Robert August 4, 2015 at 12:59 pm - Reply

      The fast food chains are slowly making changes to provide less harmful food in response to public pressure. The best advice I can give when it comes to buying food, is to remember to vote with your dollars.

      Is any of it good for you yet, not really.

      Buy organic and grass fed whenever you can. The more we do this, the sooner prices will come down.

  12. Avatar
    Moises July 21, 2015 at 3:53 am - Reply

    Your description of what goes into a hamburger from a fast food joint is a real eye-opener!

    • Robert
      Robert July 21, 2015 at 10:18 am - Reply

      That’s why it’s so important to cook food at home or at least make sure you’re getting real food when you eat out Moises.

  13. Avatar
    Nicole July 15, 2015 at 8:30 pm - Reply

    Very informative article, thanks.

  14. Avatar
    Barney July 14, 2015 at 7:17 am - Reply

    I order a lot of fast food because of the long hours at work and not having the time to take off to prepare meals. What would you suggest for someone like me?

    • Robert
      Robert July 16, 2015 at 12:31 pm - Reply

      The only way you can control what’s in the food you eat is to prepare it yourself Barney. The easiest way to do that is to have good food on hand so you don’t have to order takeout and to prepare large meals when you cook.

      Many dishes get better every time you reheat them and the leftovers from a roasted chicken dinner or a pot roast beef dinner taste great for a few days (including the vegetables). A stir fry reheats very well too!

  15. Avatar
    Maynard July 13, 2015 at 2:12 pm - Reply

    Are all restaurants really that bad?

    • Robert
      Robert July 16, 2015 at 12:24 pm - Reply

      I’m mostly talking about fast food restaurants Maynard, and yes, they’re all pretty bad. That doesn’t mean you can’t get a healthy meal in a good restaurant, but that’s not what most people are doing.

  16. Avatar
    Pecha July 5, 2015 at 12:49 am - Reply

    I like this website very much, Its a very nice place to read and obtain information. Nothing can be pleasing which is not also becoming. by Quintilian.

  17. Avatar
    Oren June 22, 2015 at 12:31 am - Reply

    I know I should cook at home, but what’s the best quick meal to have when you don’t have time to cook a full meal?

    • Robert
      Robert June 22, 2015 at 1:19 pm - Reply

      I tell people to cook large meals so they always have leftovers on hand. Even if you only have leftover vegetables, it’s not hard to add some protein and produce a meal without a lot of fuss.

      Frozen vegetables are also very handy. They cook quickly and allow you to put a meal together very quickly. If you plan for meals when you shop for groceries, you will always have something to work with.

  18. Avatar
    Victor May 29, 2015 at 10:34 am - Reply

    I’d like to eat more home cooked meals, but we usually don’t have the time to cook. Are there take out restaurants that make good food?

    • Robert
      Robert May 29, 2015 at 12:32 pm - Reply

      That’s a good question Victor. Most people who think they don’t have time to cook have not done two things:

      1. Look up some quick, easy to cook recipes
      2. Invest a bit of time to learn how to cook

      Here’s an example of an easy to cook recipe for roast chicken:

      – rinse a 4lb chicken, put it in a pot
      – lightly salt & pepper it
      – cover & place in a 350 F oven. Set your timer for 1.5 hrs

      At some point during that hour, clean a few sweet potatoes, a few carrots and some brussel sprouts.

      – When the timer goes off, take out the chicken and baste. Add vegetables, cover and put back in the oven. Set your timer for 1/2 hour.

      – when the timer goes off take the pot out of the oven and check to see if done & serve.

      How hard was that Victor? It really doesn’t take more time than driving to a take out, getting served and driving back home. And you’re feeding your family good food.

      If you buy a big enough chicken and put in extra vegetables, you’ll get a second meal which takes zero time to prepare. You just put it in a 225F oven and warm up 🙂

  19. Robert
    Robert March 31, 2015 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    Hi Anna, thanks for visiting my blog and commenting on this post.

    I agree it’s unfortunate and we’re hoping we can get people to change their habits. That’s what this blog and my book are all about.

    People fall into bad habits for a number of reasons and as I point out in this article, they get hooked on the combination of fat, sugar and salt that’s in fast food, convenience food and processed foods.

    Habits and addictions are not easy to break and we can only hope that people will want to make a change once they understand what these foods do to our health.

  20. Avatar
    Anna March 31, 2015 at 3:44 am - Reply

    Yes!! Convenience really does. And its so unfortunate how lazy a LOT of people who do have time to cook rather continue to eat out or buy/eat heavily refined/processed foods. I hope more and more will start changing.

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