By Helaine Krasner, RDN, CDN

Home cookingAlthough 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:

  1. Plan in advance. Set aside a time to plan meals for the week.
  2. Make time to shop for fresh ingredients, and keep a variety of nonperishable ingredients on hand in the fridge, freezer, and pantry.
  3. Maintain an inviting cooking environment, and minimize kitchen clutter.
  4. Start small and simple. Many tasty recipes can be made with five ingredients or less.
  5. 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.
  6. Rely on affordable prepared ingredients when needed. Consider time savers like cooked rotisserie chicken or precut vegetables.
  7. Make the most of your efforts by cooking in bulk, and freeze leftovers for future meals.
  8. 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.
  9. Explore services that provide recipes and ingredients delivered right to your door. They may even offer a free trial.
  10. 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.

Happy Cooking!

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.