Santa Barbara Wellness Network

Is Anyone Out There Cooking?

My private nutrition coaching practice has no shortage of people who desperately want or need to lose weight. Everyone knows the health risks of obesity, yet many people do not know how start changing their lifestyle in order to achieve weight loss. One troubling observation I have made is that many people don’t cook or eat at home anymore.

For many, home cooked meals have been replaced with fast food and take-out foods. Some of my clients cite lack of time to cook, and many do not know how to prepare simple meals. I have met clients who literally consume ALL of their meals out, on the run, and never prepare a meal at home. With so many sources of food available everywhere, at anytime, and in endless varieties, it’s easy to see how this could happen. Yet, there are reasons why you should rethink how you get your meals.

Cooking or at least planning simple prepared foods at home could help you get healthier, lighter and have a bit more cash to spend on other things. Home prepared food generally means that meals will have less calories and fat overall. You are in control of how the food is made, what goes into it, and most importantly, how much is served. Have you ever gone to a restaurant and been served a very large portion? How many times have you consumed the entire portion? Large portions mean more calories. Unless you are taking half of that portion home, you are getting far more calories than you may realize. Depending on how a dish is prepared, even a half portion can mean lots of extra calories.

When you eat out are you treating the meal as though it’s a special occasion? A lot of people do. Sometimes dining out is a special occasion and a chance to order something that you may not normally eat. People who eat out need to ditch the special occasion mentality or weight gain may be inevitable. The temptation to sample the bread basket, add fried foods, large drinks or high calorie appetizers to the meal is just too easy when you order out.

A side benefit of eating at home: more family time together and the chance to teach your children healthy eating habits. Families who eat on the run all of the time lose out on quality time to communicate with one another about school, work or the day’s events. Eating meals together as a family is an opportunity to set a positive example and educate your children about healthy eating.

You don’t need to have special cooking skills to put together healthier meals at home. Here are a few examples of how to start:

  • Have breakfast at home instead of the bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich out. A bowl of cereal with low fat milk, fresh fruit and perhaps a yogurt can help you start your day.
  • Brown bag your lunch instead of getting fast food or take-out every day.
  • For dinner, prepare simple meals once and make enough to have leftovers at another meal. Grilled or broiled chicken, fish or lean meat with a potato or whole grain pasta and steamed vegetables, takes less than 30 minutes.
  • Cook and plan meals ahead for the week to save time.

A little bit of time and a few simple changes can make a difference in your weight, your calorie intake and ultimately help you succeed with weight loss!

© 2011, Gretchen S, RD, CDE. Publication rights granted to all venues so long as article and by-line are reprinted intact and all links are made live.

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