Special to Nvate | 734 words
It’s no secret that modern life comes with stress, time challenges, and other difficulties including poor eating habits. The Pew Research Social & Demographic Trends survey found that Americans are eating more but enjoying eating less, with eating too much junk food as a matter of convenience being a major concern.
Interestingly, the survey revealed a correlation between an enjoyment of cooking and an enjoyment of eating. Those who enjoy cooking also enjoy eating, and are less likely to eat out regularly. If you pay attention to the foods you eat and your eating habits, you know that eating pizza and burgers every week isn’t good for your waistline. But did you know that there are foods that are better for you if you prepare them at home versus purchasing them at the store?
Just How Bad is Prepared, Pre-Packaged Food?
One big reason to prepare the meals you eat at home has to do with your health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that Americans consume too much sodium because of packaged, processed items that are store-bought or eaten at restaurants. Home cooking represents only five percent of total sodium consumption while processed and restaurant foods represent a whopping 77 percent.
The CDC reports that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day but the average American consumption is 3,500 milligrams. Store-bought foods are labeled and consumers can look at total sodium content in them, as well as other dietary and nutrition information such as sugar content, calories, and ingredients, while food ordered in restaurants is much harder to monitor.
Healthier at Home
Foods prepared at home are healthier for a number of reasons, including freshness, knowing the ingredients, and the psychological benefits of preparing and eating food within the support system of family. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University reports that teens who ate frequently with their families tend to get better grades and are less likely to use cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol.
Traci Knight, writing for Underground Health, recommends several foods that are better prepared at home than bought pre-packaged or eaten out. She says foods including pizza dough, popcorn, salad dressing, and french fries are all healthier and taste better when prepared at home. Cutting up some fresh potatoes, laying them out on a baking sheet with some olive oil, seasoning, and baking the fries at 400 degrees until golden brown beats deep-fried frozen potato strips every time. It’s the same idea with making popcorn at home. Make a fresh, healthy snack at home with a little oil in a covered pot on the stove and a layer of popping corn—not the microwave popcorn with chemicals and preservatives.
It may seem like a time-consuming process that won’t fit into your lifestyle to make homemade pizza, but Knight says pizza dough actually has few ingredients that take little time to prepare for a delicious base for your choice of fresh, preservative and sodium-free ingredients. She recommends trying a few different recipes to find what works best for quick and easy meals.
Easy Ways to Prepare Food at Home
With busy modern lifestyles, preparing food at home can be a challenge that makes grabbing fast food on the go and ordering takeout and delivery seem like the only options. But kitchen equipment like food dehydrators can make it easier to prepare fresher, healthier foods and snacks at home.
Look for easy ways to turn your favorite foods into fresh, healthy, easy-to-make homemade snacks. If you want an alternative to potato chips, use your dehydrator to make crispy snacks from your favorite fruits and veggies. Dry apple rings and banana chips slice them thin and sprinkle them lightly with cinnamon, or prepare kale for the dehydrator by coating the leaves with a thin paste made of blended miso, garlic cloves, olive oil, and other ingredients to taste.
You can start changing your eating and food preparation habits by using a food dehydrator to switch from packaged snacks to fresher, healthier versions, then add other healthy changes as time allows. Dr. Mark Hyman, family physician, best-selling author, and health advocate, stresses the importance of eating right. He recommends fresh, non-prepackaged, non-processed foods, eating together, learning how to cook and shop for healthy food, and even planting a garden to grow fresh food.
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