Social eating has become a staple trend in American society. No longer do we choose to hang out with friends without having a foray into the eating meals prepared by others. We go out to eat at both fast food and lavish restaurants, order take out or to-go, snack on hot dogs and popcorn at movie theaters and gnaw on wings and fries at sports bars during the game. Eating has become a tributary to socializing, a sidekick of sorts. And yet it is commonly held that people who cook at home tend to consume fewer calories, fewer carbohydrates, less sugar, and less fat than those who cook less, don’t cook at all. In short, you can enjoy home cooking health benefits all the time, with home-cooked meals more than anything else, and with potluck parties and dinner parties as more trustworthy sidekicks than grumpy 20-something servers, you and you friends can be healthy together!
Here are the Top 10 from Health Fitness Revolution and author of the book ReSYNC Your Life Samir Becic:
- Nutritious – Restaurants, both fast food and otherwise, are known to be notoriously high in calories sugars, fats, sodium and carbohydrates, and it is also likely they may contain low nutritional content. Even the healthier, low-cal options can contain a very high level of sugars and fats. Eating at home, on the other hand, allows you to cut out what you may deem unnecessary in your diet. You’re in control of the food you cook and the food you consume.
- Increase knowledge of food – Food is much more than just something that tastes good and fills up your stomach. What you eat can heal, cause sickness, or even inflict pain. Cooking your own meals can teach you what foods are high or low in certain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. It will even boost your creativity as you learn to combine nutritious foods to satisfy your palate!
- Savor your food – The physical act of preparing your own meals will lead to a newfound appreciate for the food you consume. This is very important since mindless munching and emotional eating can contribute to unhealthy weight gain because you’re not fully conscious of the foods you’re eating. Being more aware of what you consume when you prepare it will make you less likely to overeat.
- Appropriate portions- Restaurants are notorious for their extreme portion sizes, which may contribute to the vast overeating culture and obesity issue in America. In fact, a study conducted by the International Journal of Obesity found that providing nutrition labels on standard menus had little effect on food selection. Preparing meals at home gives you the ability to exercise portion control and help curb the temptation of overeating.
- Builds healthy habits- Cooking at home can jump-start your healthy lifestyle! By discovering healthy recipes, learning about food, creating and sticking to a meal plan, you and your family can be inspired to living a healthy, fit life.
- Encourages family bonding – Family dynamics can greatly improve with more at home, family meal times. Children greatly benefit from the ritual of preparing and eating meals together. This is also a great teaching tool for parents to instill healthy eating habits in their children. In fact, several studies conducted by the University of Michigan found eating family meals at the dinner table is associated with fewer psychological issues and higher academic success in children and promoted sociability in the family.
- Food safety – According to the CDC, foodborne illnesses (also known as food poisoning) affects 1 in 6 Americans every year. Cooking at home will give you the peace of mind you need in knowing you have the freshest ingredients (or at least since your last trip to the grocer’s!), and you can rest assured knowing your food has been stored and cooked at the correct temperatures.
- Awareness of food allergies & sensitivities – While we’ve mentioned you control the nutritional intake of your meals, cooking for yourself and your family also gives the control to avoid food allergens. Common food allergies include nuts, gluten and shellfish, and all of these are common and usually well-liked ingredients in many meals.
- Cleanliness – Cooking at home can give you the clean conscience of not only knowing what’s in your food, but how clean your food is. Naturally, you’ll want to make sure your kitchen and dinnerware are sterile and your ingredients are prepared thoroughly before eating.
- Saves money – Eating dinner out is expensive! It is a lot more cost-effective to purchase groceries than ordering take out every night. While there is much controversy as to whether or not an individual meal is cheaper made cooking in-home than eating out, with nutritional intake and serving size accounted for, you will save a lot more money by eating in! This money-saving strategy will improve your finances and cut down on your stress levels.