Almost any expert on nutrition will agree on the fact that cooking is the most efficient way to eat healthier. So what is the deal with cooking? Well, there is no doubt that when you start cooking for yourself, you will be less likely to feed on processed food.
The ideal is to avoid processed foods as much as you can, which seems like an impossible thing to do in our current society. Processed foods are like addictive drugs. Most Processed foods have fewer nutrition values and highly pack with Sugar, salt, and fat. Our brain seems to enjoy more and more of these 3 ingredients, even though too much of them in the body is harmful. U.S top killer diseases like diabetes or coronary heart disease can be directly linked to a processed-food-based diet.
The good news is that this addiction can be overcome by adopting a healthy lifestyle and it will cost you even less money.
The most important aspect of this healthy lifestyle is cooking your own food. Yeah, that’s right! 🙂 🥗
I find it controversial that we love cooking (cooking videos are one of the most video categories with a lot of views on social media), but the majority of us (at least in the U.S) don’t actually cook much. Most people will tell you they don’t have the time to cook on a regular basis or they don’t know how to cook.
Don’t blame us, our modern way of living has forgotten the values of home cooking. Cooking seems to be so old fashion for most millennials like me and the younger generation. Even older generations seem to have given that up too.
But if you know the benefits of cooking your own foods, I think you will always make cooking part of your routine no matter how busy you are or your skills at fixing a meal.
Think of cooking as a long term investment for your health and wellbeing
What you eat today will decide how you feel tomorrow. Did you know the top 10 killer diseases in the United States are tied to poor diet? For example, Coronary heart disease takes more than 300,000 lives each year, and diabetes kills more than 70,000 people.
Diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, digestive cancers can take years to develop in our body. They are usually related to a poor diet and often show up symptoms when they are more advanced and get too complicated.
Poor diet is mostly linked to eating processed and restaurants. Keep in mind that the food industry is a for-profit business. Their business model is to start with cheap food, processed it as much as possible, and making it attractive with salt, fat, and sugar. Not saying that there are no good guys out there, but it is always good to be mindful of that.
You are in control when you cook at home for yourself. You know exactly the ingredients you are cooking with. Many food experts recommend those whole plant-based foods are the best choice for cooking. Not only plant-based foods are pack with valuable nutrients, but they are also less in calories. As a result, your body will likely get all the necessary nutrients to stay healthy preventing you from many diseases down the road.
Processed foods are a bad food source because most of their nutrients will be removed in the processing. They are then filled with sugar, salt, and fat to make them tasty. Foods are processed so they could last longer on the shelf before they become perishable. Nutritious dense foods usually will go bad faster because they are more attractive to bacteria and fungi.
Another good side of eating more plants and nuts is that you will increase your fiber intake. Fiber is important for our digestive system and the gut microbiome. (you can learn more on gut microbes here)
Think of cooking as a way to save money
Cooking can be a good way to make you save money. Fresh whole foods like tomatoes, onions, kales, and other vegetables usually cost less than ingredients that are processed. Even with a small budget, you could cook more meals for weeks. These fresh ingredients are usually more perishable than the processed ones, so stores will want them to go faster to avoid losing money. In consequence, they will be more in sales and at a discounted price.
If you don’t cook much, you could find yourself spending a lot on every meal you buy. It will also be harder for you to control your monthly food budget.
I remember my college years, I was able to slash my monthly food budget from $200 to $100 by cooking home food instead of eating out.
Think of cooking as an enjoyable activity
Before I fell in love with cooking, I thought of it as a burden that could not fit my lifestyle. I was too busy with school and other activities that cooking was something at the bottom of my priorities.
One thing that triggered my desire to start cooking was that I was living in a food desert area in St. Louis, Missouri. A food desert is an area that has limited access to affordable and nutritious food, in contrast with an area with higher access to supermarkets or vegetable shops with fresh foods, which is called a food oasis.
Not only I would spend time and energy to go buy food, but I was also not a big fan of the fast-food restaurants and other types of restaurants in the area. There is nothing worst when paying for food that doesn’t taste good and less nutritious. 😤
When I finally gave cooking a try, I quickly noticed that it actually made me feel better. The time I spent cooking actually helped me relieve all the stress I had from school and life in general. When I was cooking meals, I forgot about all the lengthy homework that was haunting me. It was a little like going to the gym feeling. I never look back again and since then cooking has become part of me.
It is true that cooking can be very exhausting and messy, but to help enjoy it, think of it as a hobby that could help you break your routine. You could even play your favorite songs while cooking to make it even enjoyable!
If you are living with your family, delegating cooking tasks to each other could lift the burden and hard work. Plus, it is an efficient way to reinforce bonds with your loved ones and teaching cooking culture to the little ones.