It is so important to eat and cook at home. At a time when one in 5 meals is eaten alone in a car, and when half of American adults have heart disease, and when people are feeling more isolated than ever, it is time to revitalize the culture of eating and cooking at home.
The vast majority of food eaten away from home is of the ultra-processed category. It is “Franken-food” made of the cheapest possible ingredients which are processed to improve shelf life and transportability. In the “process” most of the nutrients are removed and what is left is no longer really “food”. Then the “food scientists” do their magic. The right combination of dopamine stimulating fat, sugar, and salt is concocted to maximally trigger addiction. “Cravability” is thus created. Flavor must be added back in with artificial ingredients that are not only toxic to humans but destroy our microbiome.
Eating and cooking at home reduces our consumption of processed food and increases our consumption of REAL FOOD! This is the first and most important change anyone needs to make to achieve a health supporting diet. Food is medicine and the strongest healing effects are not coming from individual super foods but the variety and combination of nutrients that we get simply from eating real food. One of the strongest predictors of good health outcomes is whether you eat real food cooked by a human being.
Eating and cooking at home brings family and friends together. We all know this intuitively. We have all experienced it. Studies document the benefits in happiness, emotional health, and achievement. But we still get too busy to eat and cook together. Sometimes it takes just a reminder to get back into the habit. Other times it takes a major reconsideration of priorities and some serious reorganization of work, social, or extracurricular activities. to making eating and cooking at home
But what if you are alone and hate cooking for only yourself. Many people mention this issue as a barrier to cooking. It is easy and common to develop the habit of consuming processed foods at home that require minimal cooking because it seems like a burden to cook for oneself. Unfortunately the result is bad nutrition, weight gain, and chronic disease. The solution is to make cooking both fun and easy. This is where a little attitude adjustment can go a long way. After the purchase of a few kitchen tools and a investing a little effort into learning or refreshing some basic skills, cooking is transformed from daunting to pleasurable. It may even become social.
Eating at home also saves time and money, if you know what you are doing. There is no bargain in eating cheap ultra-processed food. The real expense is the long term damage to health, reduced productivity, and diminished ability to enjoy life fully. Does sitting in your car in a line at the fast food drive through really save time? Studies show it may not. And what about the quality of the experience? Is it better than spending 30 minutes with family or friends and talking about trivial things, and occasionally having those trivial conversations morph into conversations that matter?
That cooking is a burden to be outsourced at any cost is largely an attitude successfully fostered by food corporation marketing. Admittedly, cooking can be a burden if the tasks of meal planning and preparation are not shared and are not done efficiently. That’s why learning techniques to make meal planning and prep fun and easy can make a difference.
We have resources you can use to make cooking a bigger part of your life, find out more at CCFM.
Dr Tom Svinarich