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Convenience Or Better Health?

Is convenience the best way to have better health? That's a question most frequently asked by busy folks who just don't seem to have time to eat properly, or who find themselves suffering from one illness or another (or sometimes several, depending on their specific situation). I would suggest that in order for anyone to determine if convenience or better health is important, they need to look at their own habits. After all, the longer it takes you to prepare a healthy meal, the longer you will be exposed to potential illnesses and disease-causing agents.

Now then, does convenience or better health go hand in hand? Well, that's an interesting question and difficult to answer, but I think that it boils down to this: convenience (which can be either good or bad) is ultimately relative. You could have the best convenience food store in the world and be perfectly content with that. That doesn't make it any better for you overall. On the other hand, you could also have the worst, most unhealthy, and hazardous convenience food store on the block, and still not care. In the end, it's your decisions that matter and not those of others.

So, how exactly do you determine if convenience or better health is important? The first thing you need to ask yourself (and I'm addressing primarily the American population here) is what you mean by "convenience." Do you mean the freedom to get home quickly, without having to run a marathon (and maybe pay for parking) or hop from one coffee shop to another (that also might take an hour) without having to prepare a substantial meal? Or do you mean the ability to order food whenever you feel like it, without having to go through a series of complicated procedures in order to receive it, and perhaps paying more than you like to be paid for it?

Those are two very different things. If you're thinking convenience means freedom from work and school, which it does, then you may not want to choose fast food over home-cooked meals any more than you want to choose bottled water over filtered water any more than you want to eat French fries made with whole-grains any more than you want to consume food cooked in a microwave oven any more than you want to eat potato chips coated in butter any more than you want to eat French fries that have been fried in vegetable oil. Convenience is something that is relative, meaning you can choose between them as long as you think that you won't mind. But when it comes to choosing between convenience and better health, the choice often comes down to the issue of taste.

We have all made the choice, from time to time, to change our diets in some way--perhaps to lose weight, quit smoking, or to go vegetarian. And the vast majority of those diet choices have been improved because of taste. Fast food restaurants used to be really bad at making food that was still good for you.

For example, you could get the same amount of protein in a pound of lean beef that you could in half a pound of ground beef (the same number of calories, actually). The chicken was also just as high in protein. However, the thing that made these food choices "tasty" was the lack of cleanliness. You couldn't hold the burgers, fryers, hot dogs, etc.

What about the choice between convenience and better health? Obviously, you want convenience, but how much convenience do you want? If you're the type of person who can't stand reading labels and checking nutrition facts and you feel like you would rather eat the same foods without worrying about their labels than you do to read them and figure out what they do to your body, then convenience is probably not the way to go. If you are one of those people who eat fast food or who always choose convenience over better food because you know that you already know how to make a good sandwich, you probably want to choose healthier options.

So which is it? Do you want convenience or better health? Convenience is definitely more convenient than better health. However, if you can sacrifice some convenience and still get the same amount of good food, that's probably the way to go.