Eating the right kind of food has a tremendous impact on your overall health. In today’s world where everyone is rushing to go from one place to another, trying to get as much things done before their day ends, cooking your own food seems to be the one task that you would do away with if you could. But have you ever considered that cooking is actually one of the keys in living a healthier lifestyle?
Cooking home cooked meals are reserved for weekends or special occasions because the 24 hours you have in a day does not seem to be enough to prepare 3 meals with a snack or two in between. Going to the gym is a chore for a lot of people because it would mean getting stuck in traffic for an extra hour instead of staying at home and catching up on some much needed R&R. What little time left they have after their daily grind is alloted to socialization, chores, errands, and getting a few extra minutes of sleep. So really, what does it take for a person to improve his lifestyle without adding more stress in his already stressful life?
Your lifestyle is what you make of it. Time management, planning ahead, and commitment are necessary in being able to successfully switch from one lifestyle to another. It means readying yourself for the ups and downs of lifestyle changes, and being aware that a few failures do not negate the triumphs that you accomplish along the way.
One of the things that people seem to overlook when deciding to switch up their lifestyle is food. Good food is one of the things that can make your bleakest days a shade brighter. It’s not only delicious but it also serves as the main energy source for our earthly bodies. However, consuming food that you bought and consuming food that you have prepared yourself are very different in a lot of ways.
For starters, buying food does not always guarantee that you get the correct nutritional value of the food that you’re about to consume. Heavily processed food items have diminished their nutritional content because they go through so many steps before reaching store shelves. Highly processed food are typically high in calorie but are low on nutritional value which makes it the least viable food and energy source for people. This video discusses in detail how your food loses its quality during the production process.
It’s also quite difficult for some people to buy ingredients to make their own food because of the work that goes into it. In a world where the clock seems to be perennially ticking, people no longer consider taking the time to cook their own food. The fact that buying raw ingredients in smaller portions is difficult does not help the situation altogether.
But cooking your own food will do amazing things for your health, your budget, and your lifestyle. In order to be successful in your quest to live a truly healthy lifestyle, you need to eat right. Deciding to go on the Keto diet or to do Intermittent Fasting requires that you eat nutrient rich food as part of your diet. Eating right will not only serve as a major lifeline in your diet process, it will also support it to make it much more successful.
“...The process by which it’s [food] is made has a lot to do with our health. We have
research that suggests that families who eat food cooked by humans are eating a better diet and are healthier… There’s something about the act of cooking, without us even being conscious of it that enforces a healthy, wholesome diet. ”
- Michael Pollan, Professor, University of California, Berkley
When you cook your own food, it also means that you get to save more money. When you eat out, you spend more because you not only pay for the ingredients in the food that you eat but you also pay for all the expenses that goes into preparing your meal. Despite the fact that people would consider eating out to be the cheaper option because you buy only what you’ll be eating for that meal, this is negated by the fact that your body will continue to look for more food in order to catch up on its nutritional needs. You won’t just double or triple your expenses, you will also definitely amp up your calorie intake.
Cooking your own food from scartch also means that you will be eating healthier. Knowing what you put into your food makes you more inclined to use better ingredients because you would want to make the most out of what you have bought and the time that you spent preparing them. This leads to an overall improvement in nutrients derived from the food that you eat. Watch this timelapse video to see how a fast food burger compares to one that was made using fresh ingredients.
Lastly, cooking your own food means taking responsibility for your food choices. A lot of people think that sheer willpower is enough to get you through lifestyle changes. In reality, biology has a stronger hold on you more than you think. If you are used to eating carbohydrates loaded, you will actually have a hard time resisting temptation if there are no viable options that are readily available. When good food is within reach all the time, you will not have any excuses to fall back on your old habits and food choices.
Meal prepping may seem like a daunting task but knowing that you won’t have to think about what to eat for the days ahead will make it bearable and even enjoyable. When you turn cooking into a hobby and not a chore, you’ll find that you actually get to enjoy the magic of putting different ingredients together and creating new flavors. You will also find that learning how to properly store ingredients and prepared meals can amp up the savings that you can get from cooking your own food.
So how do you start prepping your meals? Buy meal prep containers. Reusable ones are the best because you can use them week in and week out, and even take them with you when you step out of the house. You can find glassware meal prep containers here; partitioned, BPA free containers here and here; and finally, you can find reusable ziplock pouches here. Those are pretty much all you need to be able to make all three meals that you have in a day as grab-and-go options. Please keep in mind that if you do decide to freeze some of your meals (which means they can last longer by the way), don’t use glasswares as they may break. Your best option when freezing food are BPA free containers and freezer safe ziplock bags.
Now let’s get on to the food. Raw ingredients can generally be stored in the fridge or in the freezer for a certain time period. Everything from eggs, to herbs, grains, loaves of breads, and even cooked food can be stored in the freezer for a much longer period of time. For food that you’re planning to eat early on in the week, or food that can be thawed overnight ready for next day’s consumption, the fridge is a good option. Here’s a storage guide for how long you can keep most food items in the fridge and in the freezer. So if you’re worried about buying ingredients that may seem too much for a certain recipe, remember that you can always freeze them for later use.
The great thing about meal prepping is that you can keep them in big batches or in smaller, portioned containers. This website has some awesome ketogenic - friendly, make-ahead meals that will definitely make you drool. Buy whole ingredients as much as possible, and by whole it means untouched, unprocessed ingredients. You can buy items in bulk if these are food items that can be frozen or if you will be using them in a lot of your recipes such as chicken, fish fillet, or vegetables. Buying in bulk not only saves you money because it comes off cheaper, it also saves you from grocery store trips.
It is also important, when buying your ingredients, to read food labels. Especially if you’re going on a strict diet like keto, you would want to make sure that there aren’t hidden carbs in the ingredients that you choose for the recipe that you’ll be trying out this weekend. You may even find that making your own mayonnaise isn’t much a chore and is actually more delicious and a lot healthier than the store bought ones. Dying to have a bit of extra flavor on that chicken breast you have in your freezer? Make your own chimichurri. Not only can it be a good chicken marinade, but it goes well with a host of other things, is really easy to make and it keeps really well. So try and be adventurous with your meals. Always keep in mind that if you can make them, then do so because not only will they come off cheaper, they will also be a lot healthier.
Food is just one layer of your lifestyle change. Making responsible food choices is one of the best things you can do for yourself and it will also make everything else seem easier and more exciting. Eating the right kind of food for the lifestyle that you know is right for you is so important. Diets aren’t just based on how you eat or when you can eat - it also highlights what you should eat and why. Keeping your food facts straight and knowing that every decision really has weight, both literally and figuratively, make you ready to jump in and take the plunge. The kitchen, once daunting, just became your best pal in your health and wellness journey.