Saturday, October 1, 2011 Post By: Grayne Wetzky

Reclaim your food

There are hundreds of different ways to eat healthy. I prefer a certain way of eating, but most people will have different preferences. I think it is an important part of developing your self to find the lifestyle and diet that fits you perfectly.

I am not going to say that one approach is better than another. People are different and respond to different things. That said there is one thing that anyone can do, regardless of their dietary preferences, that will improve the way you eat:

Cook your own food.

One of the most tragic casualties of the modern hyper-busy lifestyle is the home cooked family meal. The typical family spends more time in their cars than sitting down together and enjoying a meal. This is a great shame and the cause of many unfortunate things. Not least it is one of the factors driving the average weight up.

The fast food culture that has developed in America delivers a two punch combo to healthy living. First, the cheap food served at these restaurants is of extremely low quality and loaded with sugar, fat and salt. Second, the hectic pace that fast food promotes adds to the already sky high stress levels people experience. Stress is extremely bad for your health, and adds inches to the waistline.

That fast food is a bad idea is not news to anyone. People still flock to the McDonald's and Taco Bells though. The most common explanation people will give you is that they just don't have the time to cook food at home. I say this is a false argument. If people prioritize cooking at home that will find the time to do it. People eat fast food because it's convenient, not because they don't have time to feed themselves.

I say everyone should carve out the time in their day to cook their own meals. Not just one meal a day either, but every meal you eat. The benefits of cooking your own food are so great that it really doesn't make sense to not do it:

Home cooked food is of a much higher quality than what you will get in a fast food place. If you think home cooking is expensive it is because you'll be feeding yourself superior quality food. In fact, home cooking is considerably cheaper than eating the same quality food in a restaurant. Even if you can get fast food meals that are extremely cheap, it is not worth the few dollars saved to fuel your own body with garbage.

When you cook all your food from scratch you have full control over what you eat. There's no need to worry about endless lists of preservatives and weird chemicals in the food anymore. You have control over the amount of salt, sugar and oil that goes into your food. You control the quality of the ingredients and how clean the tools and work area is. It means that you no longer give over control of your food to anyone else.

Making your own food lets you customize exactly what you eat. You can make sure that the meal is balanced exactly the way you want. You know what nutrients you are getting from the food and you know how much of it you need to make. You can make appropriate serving sizes which will keep you and your family from over-eating. And of course, you can significantly cut down on the salt and sugar that fast food places use to make their food palatable.

A meal prepared with fresh ingredients and love at home always tastes a whole lot better than anything pre-packaged or mass produced under a heat lamp.

Eating is a very social activity. All cultures have social food rituals. Throughout history we have used regular meals as an opportunity to come together and share food and joy. This aspect of food is quickly getting lost. Cooking meals at home is the perfect way to get back to this way of socializing. Have the whole family cook together, then eat together. Even better, invite friends and family to eat with you. Don't wait for Thanksgiving, any regular Thursday is just as good for a family feast.

The food we eat is essential for our wellbeing. Isn't your wellbeing important enough that you take ownership of it? Don't let other people have the power over what you eat. Make your food yourself and thrive.

  1. I sometimes do eat out but I definitely don't eat fast food anymore.

    I now bake my own bread (which easier than you think) and make things like chutneys, sambols and kimchi from scratch. I love cooking.

    I am looking forward to reading more of your posts during the challenge!

    Cheers, Marisa

  1. Ame

    Great post, and I agree with you. However, once you get people to buy into believing they have enough time to cook at home (which I often address by reminding people that they can cook several days' worth of food at once - something I don't see addressed here), they will complain about the price.

    While you did say that you can cook the same quality of food for the same price, this argument doesn't hold a lot of weight for many people. What I have done over the years to get people on board with eating more healthy is having them write down the total costs of not only their food but their medical expenses and any gym memberships or exercise activities as well.

    Once you switch to healthier food, your cost on doctors and medication (especially if you are on meds for diabetes type II, which is completely preventable and reversible) is often drastically reduced. If you can get people to track that, it is often a much more successful argument, at least in my experience.

  1. Love your post. So similar to be own belief!

  1. It sounds so easy doesn't it.....cook for yourself.....and you are so right.....I try and do everything that way (helps that I did move to a town that the only fast food place is fish and chips, no McD's and places like that) I do worry for my kids as they get close to heading off to Uni that they will take the "fast" route....we are looking at getting them into Uni housing so at least for that time they are getting good food provided and will be able to pack and take a healthy lunch each day....I have one who loves to cook and the other I think I will be getting cooking lessons as a Xmas present (there is a cooking school opening up 50km from us shortly) I think she will benefit from learning from someone else apart from me

  1. Until last weekend I hadn't had fast food for 6 years. It was awful compared to what I cook at home. Making your own food is economical, healthier and delicious. It's a skill everyone should have. Great post!

  1. @Marisa It's important to do things that you enjoy, and going out for a nice meal can be a great experience. Eating fast food though is hardly ever that fantastic.

    I bake my own bread occasionally too, but I eat very little bread these days.

    Thank you for your comment!

  1. @Ame that is a great point and one I considered including in this cost. When you factor in the monetary cost of the effects of fast food and low quality meals it becomes an even more lopsided equation.

    I guess I feel that if you accept that home made cooking can keep you healthier, then the monetary argument becomes rather weak. I hope that people will happily spend a little extra money to keep themselves in excellent shape.

    Thank you for your excellent contribution to this post!

  1. @Katrina it is true as you say, finding the time to cook for yourself is not hard if you really commit to doing it. That is where most people falter.

    I understand your concerns about your kids going off to school. In the end all we can do as parents is to give them the best possible foundation for making good choices for themselves. Then we have to send them off into the world and watch them make their own mistakes.

    It is the hardest part of being a parent, but also the ultimate purpose. I am sure that your kids will stumble along the way as we all do, but with a parent still invested in their success they will do just fine.

    Thank you for posting your comment, and I wish I would get cooking lessons for Christmas :)

  1. @Kris, thank you for your comment. I am happy you liked my post.

  1. @Austan It is true that once you stay away from fast food for a few months it loses a lot of appeal. The food is of extremely poor quality and even the humblest of chefs can make a better hamburger than what you get at McDonald's.

    Thank you for commenting on this post!

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