The Single Most Important Change that Can Lead to a Healthier Diet and a Better Body
Patients are always asking us about changes they can make to their diet. “How can I change my diet to: lose weight, have more energy, reduce inflammation, feel better…” Essentially, we tell them the same thing each time. The most important thing you can do is (drum roll…)
COOK YOUR OWN MEALS
Not as ground-breaking as you may have thought? The truth is that there is no magic pill, surgery, or lifestyle change that is going to completely turn things around. However, cooking your own meals is the single most important change that can lead to a healthier diet and a better body. Let’s break down a couple reasons why this is true.
1) When you cook your own meal you know what it’s made of.
Go to a restaurant and look for an ingredient label on the menu. You’re not going to find one, are you? So how are you to know what’s in it or if it is healthy? It may look like pasta with grilled chicken, but I can guarantee you that’s not all that is in there. Do you know what kind of oil they used? How much has the chicken been processed? What’s in the marinade? Is that real cheese? Does it have MSG in it?
When you make your meal at home, you’re the chef and you can decide what you want in it. You get to exclude all the unhealthy stuff. You don’t have to wonder if it’s healthy because you already know. Let me be clear here, when I say cook your own meal, I mean using actual foods; not warming up a frozen side dish from the freezer. You don’t need to add those preservatives and stabilizing agents (like food manufacturers do) when you make your own food because you are going to eat it immediately or at least soon.
2) When you cook your own meal you are able to better control your portions.
It is a fact that American restaurants serve you giant portions, almost always more than you should really eat. As a result, you eat more. It’s just human nature. It is difficult to stop eating food that is sitting in front of you. Overindulging leads to more calories (see the new research I’ve posted below) and certainly more feelings of guilt.
Making your own meals allows you to control your portions. You can plate your dish, put the rest away, enjoy eating, and move on. Eating at home is eating in a safe environment. There isn’t time where you’re waiting for the waitress to come back where it is difficult to resist finishing the rest of the plate. There also isn’t anyone asking you if you’d like a dessert (which is always difficult to turn down.)
There are more reasons why making your own meals is healthier, and you can probably think of a few yourself. The important take-away here is that if you are trying to make a change to your body or how you feel it HAS to involve diet. Theres no way around it. Don’t pick a day to start and try to change your whole lifestyle. Take it step by step and start with making more of your own meals. You can still go out, but make a goal (for example 2 meals a week at a restaurant) and stick to it. You will be surprised how a little change can make a huge difference.
Click here for an article discussing the new research I mentioned earlier.