Recent surveys reveal that Americans eat almost half of all their meals out. So, it is not surprising that the decline in home cooking closely tracks the rise in obesity and chronic diseases linked to diet.
Knowing this, let’s make this year your year to re-occupy your kitchen and dining room table. It’s time we take control of what we feed ourselves and our families. Here are the top five reasons why we should stay home and create our own meals.
- It is almost always healthier. Cooking from home, especially when using whole food ingredients, most often means fewer calories, fat, sodium, preservatives, and other additives than eating out or eating packaged convenience foods. Alternatively, excessive calories, fat, and sodium are implicated in cardiovascular disease, hypertension, overweight and obesity, cancer, and many other chronic medical conditions.
- It is often cheaper. When you crunch the numbers, it can be much more affordable to buy ingredients to make meals from home (which may also provide leftovers for future meals) than it is to buy those same meals out at a restaurant.
- Home-cooked food instills good eating habits. When you are planning family meals, you are making an effort to include a variety of healthy foods. When you take time to make the meal and share the meal with the family, you have the opportunity to be a role model for healthy eating. You can also have positive discussions about eating well and what is nutritious about the meal.
- Cooking at home provides a platform for establishing and sharing family traditions. Food and cooking are a big part of cultural traditions. That is, if your family continues to cook and share meals that your relatives and ancestors did. If we stop making and sharing these recipes, then we lose that aspect of our family’s culture that makes us who we are. Instead we may end up aligned with the “culture” of major food corporations and their marketing efforts.
- Research shows that eating as a family has numerous positive effects on children. In fact, studies have demonstrated that teenagers who regularly eat dinner with their families are healthier, happier, do better in school and engage in fewer risky behaviors than teenagers who don’t regularly eat family dinners. Again, the family dinner is a great platform for communicating with your kids. It is a chance to really hear about what is going with them and show them that you are engaged in their lives.