In early 1900s, nearly all American families ate together at home. These days, however, home-cooked meals are challenging. Over 50% of households claim they eat multiple meals that are not home-cooked, opting for take-out and delivery options or dining at a local restaurant. Many meals these days are eaten quickly on the go, heated in microwaves, processed and frozen and consumed in front of the television.
What are the ramifications of our modern day eating habits?
Research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has found that people who cook most of their meals at home are healthier than those who don’t! They consume fewer calories and make better food choices.
The study was a survey of 9,000 participants aged 20 and older. The research showed that 48% of participants cooked 6-7 dinners per week. This subgroup consumed fewer calories, smaller portions, less frozen food, made healthier food choices and chose fast food less often when they did decide to eat a meal out. African Americans were less likely to cook at home as well as those who worked 35 hours or more per week or had long work commutes.
Time and financial restraints play a role in whether people eat home-cooked meals. It boils down to convenience and our lifestyle today--immediate gratification. We live in a world where pizzas are delivered to your door in less than thirty minutes or your money back. As a result, obesity rates have climbed to astronomical numbers, resulting in serious health issues, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Food that we know of as “convenient food”--frozen, processed, in a box, delivered to our door, picked up at the window--- are chock full of sugar and salt, saturated fats, calories, preservatives and other additives. These may not only pack on the pounds but impact hormone levels, blood sugar levels, contribute to nutrient absorption issues and deficiencies and increase one’s toxic load. Fake food does not make you healthy!
Although eating out at a restaurant provides ambiance, it also likely dishes out huge portions, enough to feed multiple people, sometimes! It’s also nearly impossible to control ingredients--the oils, butters, fats used to cook the food, the quality of the meat and vegetables, spices, sauces and more. Your own kitchen provides you with more control and allows you to be in charge of your plate, which means you are also more in charge of your health and wellness!
You don’t need to be a master chef to whip up a great meal. It also doesn’t require hours of preparation. It simply means shopping for real ingredients over packaged, processed foods. Keeping it natural and simple will actually produce the greatest tasting and most nutritious meals.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Realizing that food is more than what fills our belly or brings us comfort is essential in making better food choices. Food can be one of the greatest, most powerful medicines, so take the time to research what vitamins, minerals and nutrients are in the foods you eat. Also note that as you prepare food in your kitchen, something magical is happening in the process. When we slowly chop, stir, sauté and prepare our food, our bodies are preparing to consume them. This includes the creation and release of digestive enzymes and optimal levels of stomach acid. Our bodies prefer this “food foreplay” instead of immediate gratification. The digestive process begins before food even reaches our mouth.
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