Adults who eat a home cooked dinner most evenings eat less fat, less sugar and less total calories than households where dinner is usually based on ready prepared foods or dining out.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University studied the dining habits and food intake of more than 9000 adults, all aged over 20 years old. They arrived at the conclusion that if you live in a household where someone cooks dinner 6 or 7 times a week you will probably eat a healthier diet that people who live in a household where someone cooks only once a week.
What is even more interesting is that when eating out, the home cooking group were also likelier to make menu choices that involve eating less fat, sugar, and fewer calories.
The study also noted that people who work outside the home for more than 35 hours a week were less likely to make a home cooked meal each evening.
What can we learn from this? If you want to lose weight, home cooked meals are the foundation of your weight loss plan. If you think you don't have time, then there are a some excellent books which show you how to create quick, nutritious and above all, tasty meals in a very short time. Jamie's 15-Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver is good or the very slender Nigel Slater has a number of books dedicated to cooking quick, flavourful meals. My personal favourites are his The 30-Minute Cook and Real Fast Food. Food can be cooked in advance of course as well, and there are many benefits to having a tasty supper in the fridge to reheat when you arrive home from work hungry and tired.
Once you've had a go, you may find that home cooked meals taste much better than their fast food alternatives. And if you already cook in preference to eating fast food, then any dietary changes will be that much easier to make.
Julia A Wolfson and Sara N Bleich. Is cooking at home associated with better diet quality or weight-loss intention?. Public Health Nutrition, available on CJO2014. doi:10.1017/S1368980014001943.
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