Preserve your health with a culinary transformation
By: Kalindi Mishra
The latest diet patterns have placed Americans at risk for weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease. Convenience is at the core of such a routine – why spend time cooking when the pantry is stocked with ready-to-eat foods? Can the convenience of dialing the local restaurant be suppressed?
Dr. David Eisenberg, of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, says “Many older men have never developed or have lost touch with kitchen skills, and thus have become too dependent on processed and prepared foods.”
2,300 calories per day are consumed on average when dinner is prepared once a week, consisting of 84 grams of fat and 135 grams of sugar. Whereas homemade meals contained 150 fewer calories per day, translating to only 81 grams of fat and 119 grams of sugar
People who live alone are less likely to prepare their meals and often lack important food groups, most notably fruits, vegetables, and omega-3-fatty acids, all of which is corroborated by 41 studies published on August 12th, 2015, in Nutrition Reviews.
Regular usage of kitchen skills enhances the quality of cooking skills, techniques, and prepared dishes. “Instead of learning individual recipes, you need to learn techniques,” encourages Dr. Eisenberg. “ This way, you can master a few basic staples and have the recipe for making all kinds of meals.”
Additionally, try to learn how to make some whole grain dishes ( like quinoa, brown rice, farro, among others) as opposed to white rice, potatoes, or plain bread.
Over time, cooking can become a hobby.“People find personal satisfaction in cooking for themselves or come to view the experience as a way to tap into their creativity,” says Dr. Eisenberg.
Restaurant meals are rich in fattening ingredients like butter and salt, while pre-packaged dishes are loaded with sodium and additives. When you cook for yourself, “you control which ingredients you use and their quantities”, explains nutritional counselor Sarah Jacobs, cofounder of the Wellness Project NYC, a consultancy collaborating with corporations to promote good health among employees.
People are also less likely to serve themselves restaurant-sized portions, which usually can feed 2 or 3 people, or indulge in a decadent dessert. “At home, we mentally approach the meal differently, making us less likely to add unnecessary items that should be consumed in moderation,” she observes.
A wholesome diet of healthy, home-prepared food can influence snacking habits. Once you become accustomed to healthy eating habits, you will tend to crave it in other settings. “ I’ve noticed that when my kids are at a playdate or a party, they’re more apt to snack on fruits or carrots, even when they’re offered junk food, no matter how tempting it may be,” observes Celine.
With the ever-growing demands and nuances of modern life, people are extremely likely to multitask, leaving them unaware of the food being consumed.
“When cooking, you’re a part of the meal process from start to finish – the grocery store to the plate,” explains Rachel Brown, also a co-founder of the Wellness Project NYC. “ Such a process creates a bond between you and the finished product.”The presence of mind during eating is another healthy lifestyle habit to implement.
“Eating mindfully for even just one bite can help us come back into the present moment to let go of the swirl of thoughts that we are often caught up in, and to remember that a more clear, simple, and connected way of being is only a bite, or a breath, away,” says Andy Lee, Aetna’s chief mindfulness officer. Another built-in benefit is a growing social life – but the fun can be split among friends. “Invite friends to bring simple, healthy dishes,” suggests Jenna. “Making these events as easy as possible for friends to attend is key.”
Meanwhile, Petrona Nunez Montufar, from Scranton, PA, makes a point of sharing healthy home-cooked food with neighbors in need. ”When I help others, I feel I’m helping myself,” she says. “ I feel happier to give than to receive.” Food is a powerful, tangible form of expression that bolsters health and people-to-people ties.