You can read Pollan's article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/02/magazine/02cooking-t.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=Out+of+the+Kitchen+Onto+the+Couch&st=nyt
Since I've been I'm my dieting journey, I've become a huge proponent of making my own food. A "fast food" breakfast for me these days is grabbing a banana on the way out the door. You have much more control of the calories you consume when you prepare (not necessarily cook) your own food. And, you also save a hell of a lot more money.
To that end, I think of Pollan's piece substantiates my claim that if you want to control your weight, you have to take control of your food preparation:
Avoiding processed and fast foods means preparing your own foods. The funny thing is, I really don't find that it takes me all that much longer to prepare my food. In fact, it takes less time for me to boil some water for tea and cut up fruit in the morning then it does for me to drive to and wait in line at some place for breakfast. Making a salad is easy because I pre-prepare my salad ingredients in bulk e.g., I chop up enough red onion and make enough salad dressing for a week.
"To play at farming or foraging for food strikes us as harmless enough, perhaps because the delegating of those activities to other people in real life is something most of us are generally O.K. with. But to relegate the activity of cooking to a form of play, something that happens just on weekends or mostly on
television, seems much more consequential. The fact is that not cooking may well be deleterious to our health, and there is reason to believe that the outsourcing of food preparation to corporations and 16-year-olds has already taken a toll on our physical and psychological well-being.
Consider some recent research on the links between cooking and dietary health. A 2003 study by a group of Harvard economists led by David Cutler found that the rise of food preparation outside the home could explain most of the increase in obesity in America. Mass production has driven down the cost of many foods, not only in terms of price but also in the amount of time required to obtain them. The French fry did not become the most popular “vegetable” in America until industry
relieved us of the considerable effort needed to prepare French fries ourselves. Similarly, the mass production of cream-filled cakes, fried chicken wings and taquitos, exotically flavored chips or cheesy puffs of refined flour, has transformed all these hard-to-make-at-home foods into the sort of everyday fare you can pick up at the gas station on a whim and for less than a dollar. The fact that we no longer have to plan or even wait to enjoy these items, as we would if we were making them ourselves, makes us that much more likely to indulge impulsively.
Cutler and his colleagues demonstrate that as the “time
cost” of food preparation has fallen, calorie consumption has gone up, particularly consumption of the sort of snack and convenience foods that are typically cooked outside the home. They found that when we don’t have to cook meals, we eat more of them: as the amount of time Americans spend cooking has
dropped by about half, the number of meals Americans eat in a day has climbed; since 1977, we’ve added approximately half a meal to our daily intake.
Cutler and his colleagues also surveyed cooking patterns across several cultures and found that obesity rates are inversely correlated with the amount of time spent on food preparation. The more time a nation devotes to food preparation at home, the lower its rate of obesity. In fact, the amount of time
spent cooking predicts obesity rates more reliably than female participation in the labor force or income. Other research supports the idea that cooking is a better predictor of a healthful diet than social class: a 1992 study in The Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that poor women who routinely cooked were more likely to eat a more healthful diet than well-to-do women who did not."
As for dinner, I always cooked dinner (it's that Italian thing), so it was just a matter of switching to more healthful fare.