We all know that eating home-cooked meals is better than eating out. But do you know the reasons why? When it comes to losing weight, cooking at home is a winning strategy. Making meals at home ensures that you know exactly what is going into it – salt, fat, sugar and all the rest!
A 2016 study found that a higher frequency of eating out was associated with a higher body mass index. This is not surprising! Individuals that prepare their own food are more likely to consume fewer calories. In a study involving 9,000 participants age 20 and older, adults who cooked dinner 1-2 times per week ate more calories on average than those who cooked 6-7 times per week. This is 2301 vs. 2164 average daily calories, a savings of 137 calories! This adds up and makes a total difference of roughly 50,000 extra calories per year.
Instead of spending your money eating out, invest in developing your preparing and cooking skills. Here are some other reasons to cook at home that you may find appealing.
When you are trying to lose weight, eating out is like eating a minefield of unwanted calories. You may enter a restaurant with good intentions, but you never really know what goes into making the food that is placed in front of you. Restaurant food is typically lower in nutrients and higher in fat, sugar and salt. If you make the same meal at home that you ordered in the restaurant, it will have fewer calories and more nutrients. Why? Many food establishments (especially fast food) optimize taste, not your health and weight loss goals. They use cooking techniques to impress the taste buds such as searing a steak with excessive amounts of butter after it was marinated in a sugar-based sauce, adding heavy cream into the soup, battering and frying up the chicken that is placed in the salad, and adding dressings/sauces that are loaded with sugar. The end result is that you consume far more calories than if you made that same meal yourself.
By cooking your own meal, you can ensure that the ingredients you are eating are fresh with no additives that you do not approve of.
Do you hear the monster-size burgers and huge pasta plates calling out your name? It would make sense if the more calories you eat, the more full you would feel, right? Sadly, this does not apply to all foods. Most individuals who are presented with large portions generally do not respond to signals of increased fullness. This suggests that hunger and satiety signals are being overridden or ignored. Eating out can create the perfect food storm. You are served high calorie, delicious food in huge portions and you do not want to stop eating.
Eating at home reduces the temptation to make bad food choices, especially if you have healthy ingredients on hand. You can make a soup creamy by adding white beans instead of the heavy cream. You can roast or bake instead of frying and easily avoid the calories of high sugar sauces and dressings by making your own.
Cooking at home also keeps your portions in check. You are the one controlling how much and what kind of food is put on your plate. One way to train yourself to eat less is by serving your meal on a smaller plate. It will appear as though you are eating more when you are actually eating less, but the beautiful part of this is that you will not feel deprived. This also decreases the chance of eating all the leftovers when you only cook for one person.
Sharing stories around the table is an excellent way of bonding. For some families, this may be the only time they have in a day to catch up on the events of the day. Children benefit greatly from learning how to prepare and cook food at a young age. Getting children involved in planning and cooking meals can go a long way in the exploration of different food choices. Cooking is one of those skills that gets easier with practice and children really enjoy eating food that they have helped prepare. It will make you feel good knowing that eating at home is good for their health. Research has shown that children who eat at home regularly take in more nutrients and are less likely to be overweight.
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