Major food companies like Kraft Heinz, Nestle, Campbell Soup and J.M. Smucker are reporting weak sales in the US market. American consumers are turning to healthier meals and snacks. The demand for fresh and healthier food is rising and food makers are struggling to adapt. For many years, processed food rich in sugar, salt and hydrogenated fat has been easy and cheap to produce and sell. Hard pressed consumers living in a fast pace modern life were easily sucked in the “buy one get one free” promotions for TV dinners. As processed food replaced traditional food home cooking vanished. Americans spend less time cooking than any other developed country in the world according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and development. Indeed, most of our weight loss patients presenting for evaluation at Houston Weight Loss Surgery Center don’t have time for cooking, don’t know how to cook or simply hate cooking. A study published in the Harvard Business Review showed that one in 10 Americans enjoys preparing dinner. The reality is Houstonians would rather eat out or order delivery instead of cooking dinner. When preparing the simplest meal is a hassle, however, weight loss, as well as maintaining weight loss following bariatric surgery, become a more difficult challenge.
“Fresh prepared foods” are meals prepared and served at grocery stores like Central Market in Houston. According to, Supermarket Guru, a market research firm, sales of such foods are about $25 billion annually in the US. Freshly prepared meals may contain less salt and preservatives than processed and fast food, but they are no match to home cooking. I have personally tried a number of salads offered at Central Market in Houston. The taste is great but the content is not. These salads are loaded with sugar, oil, and artificial flavors. You think you are having a light and healthy lunch. When I looked at the label, however, and I counted the calories of a small or medium size salad, I was surprised. Take one of my favorite, kale, cranberry and pepita salad that Central Market offers in Houston. One would assume that this is a low-calorie meal rich in green plant fiber. The salad, however, is loaded with sugar, sesame oil, Soya sauce, salt… to make it taste better and entice you to buy it more often. No wonder why my home-made kale salad that contains the same basic ingredients: kale, pepita and cranberries doesn’t taste as good. My dressing is basic, simple and low calorie: olive oil, mustard, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Central Market salad dressing has twenty more ingredients including generous amounts of sugar. Restaurants and grocery stores don’t care about your health and weight loss goals. Their primary purpose is to sell you more by entertaining your taste buds. You don’t crave boring, high fiber, low-calorie food, and most likely, you won’t buy more than once. There is simply no room for healthy food items on your grocery store shelves or anywhere else outside your own kitchen.
The loss of home cooking in America, over the past 50 years, has no doubt fueled the Obesity epidemic we are currently witnessing. So far, there is no HEALTY alternative to home cooking and meal prepping. If you are contemplating weight loss surgery, your first and most important step in your weight loss journey is to embrace home cooking as part of your daily life.