By Helaine Krasner, RDN, CDN
Although eating out or getting take-out can be an enjoyable part of a healthy lifestyle, it definitely makes weight management more challenging. There are many benefits to preparing your own food as often as possible.
- Easier to control portion size. Restaurant portions are often inappropriately large, which promotes overeating and indigestion, or acid reflux.
- Save money! It’s a fact that you will pay more for the convenience of prepared food.
- Awareness of ingredients. Restaurant food is notoriously high in sugar, salt, and fat, which increase risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and high blood pressure.
- Less risk of food borne illness. Most incidents occur from foods prepared outside the home.
- Home cooking promotes mindful eating. Preparing your own food helps foster awareness and appreciation of the nourishment it provides.
- Control of ingredients. Have it your way. Add what you like, and leave out what you don’t.
- Avoid potentially harmful chemicals and allergens. Commercially prepared foods often contain preservatives or additives you wouldn’t use.
- Quality family time. Use the team approach. Involve others at home in shopping, prep, and cleanup.
Common reasons people give for relying on restaurant or take-out meals is lack of time or skills. It’s easier than you think to prepare your own food, and the benefits are well worth the effort. Try these strategies:
- Plan in advance. Set aside a time to plan meals for the week.
- Make time to shop for fresh ingredients, and keep a variety of nonperishable ingredients on hand in the fridge, freezer, and pantry.
- Maintain an inviting cooking environment, and minimize kitchen clutter.
- Start small and simple. Many tasty recipes can be made with five ingredients or less.
- Use a slow cooker. You can throw the ingredients together in the morning, and come home to a hot meal at the end of the day. Clean-up is a snap, too.
- Rely on affordable prepared ingredients when needed. Consider time savers like cooked rotisserie chicken or precut vegetables.
- Make the most of your efforts by cooking in bulk, and freeze leftovers for future meals.
- Take advantage of healthy recipe resources available online and step-by-step tutorials on YouTube. Your Mather Bariatric Nutrition Team is a great source for healthy recipes on our blog and in the office.
- Explore services that provide recipes and ingredients delivered right to your door. They may even offer a free trial.
- Look to your local supermarket, library, or school district for a low-cost or no-cost cooking class. Local chefs sometimes offer cooking classes as well.
Helaine Krasner, RDN, CDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who takes great pride in helping our Bariatric and Medical Weight Management patients achieve their health and weight loss goals.