The next time you get the urge to grab a burger and fries or a TV dinner, ask yourself: why do I want this?
It’s not just that fast food is convenient. Fast food also takes advantage of the fact that we’re genetically predisposed to prefer sugar, fat and salt. Sugar gives us a high, fat encourages us to overeat and salt is a taste enhancer that preserves food. The message is eat, then eat more.
If you want to give yourself a new message this year, the answer is as close as your kitchen.
Rediscover the joy of cooking
By reclaiming food preparation and using as many unprocessed and whole foods as possible, we can control the amount and type of sugar, fat and salt we eat. Home cooking allows us to develop a deeper understanding of and connection with our food—an awareness of what we put in our bodies.
Eating home-cooked meals generally leads to a lower body mass index, while eating fast food is associated with
- reduced diet quality
- increased calorie consumption
- weight gain and obesity
- type 2 diabetes
- death from coronary heart disease
Your action plan
Cooking doesn’t have to be a chore. Start with a few simple meals a week, double up on recipes and involve the whole family in food shopping and preparation to turn cooking into a positive experience. When children are involved in the process of making meals, they’re more likely to eat the results.
The family that eats together …
Eating is much more than putting food in our mouths; it’s a chance to come together and connect. Scheduling family mealtimes isn’t always easy, but the effort is well worth it for both parents and children. Note that mealtime doesn’t have to mean dinner. Many busy families use breakfast as the main family meal.
Family mealtimes allow us to
- model good eating patterns: children who eat family meals have a healthier diet, are more willing to try new foods, eat more fruits and vegetables, drink fewer soft drinks and consume more calcium, iron, fiber and vitamins B, C and E
- talk to our kids and find out what’s going on in their lives
- share family and cultural traditions while establishing a sense of unity
Plus, family meals make it easier for kids to say no to drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. They’re also associated with better school performance, a greater sense of well-being and less risk of binge eating or other unhealthy weight control behaviors.
Do you need a top up?
In a perfect world, we’d fulfill our nutritional needs from food. In reality, many of us aren’t getting enough essential nutrients.
Many of us don’t get enough magnesium, calcium and vitamins A and D. A daily multivitamin is an inexpensive nutritional insurance policy for meeting many minimum daily requirements.
Your doctor can help you determine the best combination of vitamins, minerals and other supplements for your specific needs.