According to Emory University, Americans eat fewer than 70% of their meals at home and less than a third of American families eat meals together more than twice a week. Many busy families opt for convenience and often times rely on factory-processed foods to get through the week without having to make multiple grocery trips. Combined with our nation’s history of support for fast food chains, it’s no wonder that obesity is an epidemic.
Did you know that we spend more than 75% of all health care costs on “lifestyle diseases” such as, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even a few types of cancer. Most of these “lifestyle diseases” can be avoided simply by reforming our diet. Eating a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods provides a million and one benefits. We get the protein, vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and essential fatty acids that help our body thrive.
Preparing most of our meals at home helps us adjust to a healthier regimen. There are many health benefits to home-cooked meals. The most obvious is the benefit of controlling what type of ingredients go into the meal. When we eat out at a restaurant, we lose this advantage. Restaurant dishes may taste great and leave us begging for more, but don’t let the butter and salt fool you. Commercially prepared foods are infamously high in fat, sugar and salt. They drown the food with sauce and salt, because the only thing restaurants have to worry about is whether you’ll come back for more. Chefs don’t have to worry about your food allergies or your blood levels. When you eat out you’re not 100% in control of what goes on your plate.
Besides nutritional pay offs, cooking at home generates social benefits as well. Sharing a meal with family around the dinner table is totally underrated. The ritual of eating meals together create opportunities for communication and relaxation. Parents get the chance to talk to their children about the day’s events and transition from the stresses of work to a slower pace. Next time you prepare a meal at home, don’t forget to get your kids to help. Involving children in the kitchen is the best way to teach them healthy eating habits!
This blog is inspired by our visit to Christina Avaness’s kitchen/lab. She discusses the importance of home-cooking and using quality ingredients. To demonstrate, she cooks up a delicious Persian meal for Pedram to try. Yummy!