How can preparing my own meals help me eat healthy?

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Toby Smithson
Nutrition & Dietetics

Pre-prepared meals or fast foods are notoriously high in sodium and unhealthy fats. Cooking your own meals not only lets you have control over the ingredients and the method of cooking, but can help save money as well. Taking the time to cook can also be a stress-reliever. Preparing meals for yourself does takes time and planning, but you are more likely to enjoy what you’ve cooked. Feeling relaxed at a meal will help you slow down, thereby you’ll be less likely to overeat.

Margaret Floyd
Nutrition & Dietetics
One of the best ways to ensure that you're eating healthy is to prepare your food yourself. Cooking gives you total control of the ingredients and the food preparation, which will usually lead to far healthier meals. When we eat prepared food or out at restaurants, we relinquish much of that control. Who knows what goes into the food or how it was prepared?

I know, I know. You don't have time, there's not an extra minute in the day, and the last thing you need to add to your overstuffed schedule is endless time slaving in the kitchen over a hot stove. I understand. I'm a busy person too, and while I do love to cook a complex meal every once in a while, that's the exception, not the rule. What I've learned is that cooking healthy doesn't have to be complex, particularly time-consuming, or a lot of work. In fact, the essence of cooking healthy is simplicity. It takes a little practice, but you can be efficient in the kitchen and you'll soon learn that preparing real, fresh food is not only better for you and your family, but it's also a lot of fun and absolutely delicious.
Eat Naked: Unprocessed, Unpolluted, and Undressed Eating for a Healthier, Sexier You

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Eat Naked: Unprocessed, Unpolluted, and Undressed Eating for a Healthier, Sexier You

Eat Naked with Margaret Floyd for a Sexier You Are you fed up with counting calories? Confused by all the diet hype? Want to eat delicious, real food and look and feel great? Leading...
Vandana  R. Sheth
Nutrition & Dietetics
When you prepare your own meals you are in complete control over the ingredients, preparation method and portion size. All of these factors play in key role in healthy eating. For example, you can choose to use fresh ingredients instead of canned, you can choose to use spices and herbs in place of salt, you can limit the use of oil/butter for cooking and use methods such as steaming, broiling, poaching, grilling to allow for healthy and tasty food. You can also use measuring cups, spoons to portion out the appropriate portion for you.
Doreen Rodo
Nutrition & Dietetics

Frozen entrees, canned soups and restaurant foods aren't always as healthy as making your own. When you prepare your own meals, you know the ingredients that you are putting in and can easily substitute healthier items. For example, if you were making your own pizza, you could use whole wheat crust, 2% or low-fat cheese, and vegetables instead of pepperoni or meat. This is healthier than buying it from a place that loads it with pepperoni and whole milk cheese. 

Our brains deal with satiety -- or the sense of being "full" -- in several ways. Food hits us at the level of all five senses -- taste, smell, sight, sound, touch. Prepare the food yourself, and you taste, smell and feel the food -- so when the meal finally hits the table, you are less likely to gorge on it. Instead, you'll savor it, take smaller bites.

Meal preparation can take the edge off by whetting all of your senses, and can lead you to be a better eater.

One of the reasons that eating out is such a diet killer is that you plop yourself down, bread comes, drinks come and food comes. No foreplay. Thus, you are likely to eat worse and more mindlessly.

So be with your food. Touch it, taste it, cut it, saute it, smell it. Like well-placed kisses and caresses, to do so takes the edge off, lets the anticipation grow, and makes the meal pleasurable and memorable.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.