Get Cooking at Home
WHAT: A quick analysis of how beneficial home cooking is for our body; with easy tips on how to learn the skills needed.
SOURCE: Studies by Dr. David Eisenberg, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Department of Nutrition.
GREAT FOR: Healthy Eating, Motivation, Body Wellness, Finding Your WHY
Sharpening your culinary skills (or developing new ones) can improve your diet, nutrition, and social life.
We tend to cook less as we age. Instead of proper cooking we put something in the microwave, pour something ready-to-eat into a bowl, or call for takeout? But this quick-eating trend has made many men and women adopt diets that put them at risk for weight gain, heart disease, and diabetes.
“Many older men have never developed or have lost touch with kitchen skills, and thus have become too dependent on processed and prepared foods,” says Dr. David Eisenberg, of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
“But cooking is easier than people think and it can drastically improve your health. On top of that is more fun and cheaper than eating out. Does not matter what is your ability, anyone can learn to do it anytime and anywhere.”
The Healthy Cooking
The more you cook, the healthier you live. People who frequently cook dinner at home consume fewer calories than those who cook less, according to a study of more than 9,000 people published online Nov. 14, 2014, by Public Health Nutrition.
The findings also suggest that those who frequently cook at home—six to seven nights a week—also consume fewer calories on the occasions when they eat out.
For instance, the study found that adults who cooked dinner at home only once a week consumed 2,300 calories per day on average, which included 84 grams of fat and 135 grams of sugar. In comparison, regular at-home cooks ate 150 fewer calories per day and consumed only 81 grams of fat and 119 grams of sugar.
Cooking also expands your intake of healthy foods. For instance, people who live alone—who are less likely to cook on a regular basis—often have diets that lack core food groups, such as fruits, vegetables, and fish, according to a review of 41 studies published online Aug. 12, 2015, in Nutrition Reviews. The report also found they have less diversity and lower overall consumption of these healthy foods.
Learning Basic Skills
You don’t need to be a celebrity chef to transform your usual cooking skills. “Instead of learning individual recipes, you need to learn techniques,” says Dr. Eisenberg. That is how you can master any type of meal.
Here are some basic skills that are good to learn:
- How to cut vegetables into cubes, strips
- How to make simple soups, salads, and salad dressing
- How to make a few whole-grain dishes (e.g., brown rice, quinoa) as your own choice as opposed to potatoes, white rice, or white bread
- How to pick and prepare healthier protein choices like fish, chicken, and tofu, as opposed to a preponderance of red meat options.
As your skills improve and you become more comfortable preparing meals, you may find that your culinary is more interested and you will spend more time in the kitchen. You can check online cooking classes, online cooking shows or simply go through different recipes. You can say after that ‘’ yes I do the cooking, yes I do the cleaning’’.
Once you get more familiar with different foods like locally grown vegetables, meats, fruits, and spices, you’ll know what to look for, when shopping.
You also may find that your improved cooking skills can heat up your social life too. You may form a closer bond with your partner as you both become more involved with meal preparation, and you may be motivated to invite others to share a meal you cooked yourself. Remember cooking can be loads of fun if you look at it this way.
Moreover, you might find cooking to be a relaxing and liberating activity that you can enjoy alone, too. “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.
After some time you will wonder why you have not done it earlier.