"The most important and the most powerful tool you have to change your health … is your fork," according to Mark Hyman, MD (huffingtonpost.com). Preparing healthy home cooked meals rather than dining out can provide a whole bread basket full of benefits including improving health and longevity and increasing family social community.
Fact: The results of a 10 year study published in Public Health Nutrition in 2012 link frequent cooking to living longer, according to the Cambridge Journals Blog (blog.journals.cambridge.org).
Fact: The global cancer rate is projected to increase to 15 million new cases every year by 2020, up 50 percent from 2000. The World Health Organization tags unhealthy diets and inadequate exercise as major contributors (who.int).
A mostly plant-based diet can help prevent cancer as well as other chronic diseases, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which provides three tips for eating healthy (choosemyplate.gov).
The recommended daily average calorie intake for an adult is 2,000 calories with 56 to 78 grams of fat (preferably from "good" sources such as nuts, avocados and olive oil) and approximately 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams of salt depending on health and age (cnpp.usda.gov).
Do the math and think about whether you want fast food nightmares or home cooked dream meals (caloriecount.about.com).
Fact: "Teens who regularly have meals with their families are less likely to get into fights, think about suicide, smoke, drink, and use drugs," according to Child Trends' original analysis of data from the National Survey of Children's Health (childtrendsdatabank.org).
Involving the entire family in selecting recipes, food shopping and preparation as well as sitting down together for dinner looks like a tradition worth starting.
Start small and cook one more meals at home each week, and work up to preparing healthy home cooked meals on a regular basis. Drag out your old crock pot. Don't just watch cooking shows on TV, take a cooking class. When Chicago-based Kendall College offered a Groupon deal for its recreational cooking classes; buyers bought 2,993 cooking classes in less than a day (northwestern.edu).
The American Institute for Cancer Research offers a series of free brochures with helpful information about preparing easy home cooked meals that are nutritious and other topics related to health and cooking at home, including recipes and tips for getting started. Cook with your favorite foods or try a new ingredient each week, use all fresh food or rely on frozen vegetables, chicken or fish for convenience. It doesn't have to be difficult to cook healthy (preventcancer.aicr.org). And, if you think the cost of eating at home seems higher than eating out, consider how you calculate "cost" in terms of health.
"Calorie Counter," About, Inc., http://caloriecount.about.com/
"Cook more often at home," USDA, http://www.choosemyplate.gov/weight-management-calories/weight-management/better-choices/cook-home.html
"Educational Brochures," American Institute for Cancer Research, http://preventcancer.aicr.org/site/PageServer?pagename=aicr_publications_brochures
"Family Meals," Child Trends, http://www.childtrendsdatabank.org/?q=node/197
"Frequent cooking will help you live longer," Cambridge University Press, Jo Rennie, May 15, 2012, http://blog.journals.cambridge.org/2012/05/frequent-cooking-will-help-you-live-longer/
"Global cancer rates could increase by 50% to 15 million by 2020," WHO, April 3, 2003, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2003/pr27/en/
"Home Cooking Increases Longevity, Cambridge Study Shows," Huffington Post, May 18, 2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/18/cooking-longevity_n_1518466.html
"How Eating at Home Can Save Your Life," Huffington Post, Dr. Mark Hyman, January 9, 2011, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/family-dinner-how_b_806114.html
"Michael Pollan: Home Cooking Will Solve America's Obesity Epidemic," Yahoo Finance, Aaron Task, April 25, 2012, http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/michael-pollan-home-cooking-solve-america-obesity-epidemic-174714334.html
"Rise in home cooking, once recession-driven, now the hip thing to do," Northwestern University, Emily Co, March 18, 2010, http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=162396
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