Sat­is­fac­tion and ben­e­fits of cook­ing meals at home are en­chant­ing

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFESTYLE - [email protected]­edeat­ As Good as Eat­ing Out,

THERE was a time in my life when my idea of a fun night out in­volved hours of danc­ing and drink­ing, fol­lowed by tuck­ing into some late night/early morn­ing street food.

These days I still love danc­ing and I en­joy a glass of wine, but

I’ve re­ally come to ap­pre­ci­ate the sat­is­fac­tion of eat­ing – and shar­ing – a home-cooked meal. There’s a kind of magic that hap­pens when we rus­tle up some in­gre­di­ents, ap­ply some heat and then in­dulge in the flavours that are re­leased.

Hav­ing friends over for meals re­ally has be­come one of my favourite pas­times, and I’ve be­come par­tic­u­larly pas­sion­ate about shar­ing the no­tion that healthy food can be de­li­cious – and that we all have the abil­ity to cook some­thing that’s tasty and sat­is­fy­ing.

Of course, ev­ery now and then we need some in­spi­ra­tion, so I was happy to re­ceive a re­view copy of a book called which is packed with recipes for some of the things most of us only eat when we go to a restau­rant. But more about that an­other time.

Many read­ers will also have picked up that I draw great in­spi­ra­tion from Michael Pol­lan, an Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist who spe­cialises in writ­ing about food and nutri­tion and has be­come a well-re­spected health ad­vo­cate. In a video clip re­leased around Thanks­giv­ing, late last month, Pol­lan pro­claimed that the one diet which would work to com­bat the grow­ing crises of obe­sity, Type 2 di­a­betes and other life­style-re­lated dis­eases was this: “Eat any­thing you want. Just cook it your­self.”

While ac­knowl­edg­ing that for many peo­ple time doesn’t al­ways per­mit this, Pol­lan be­lieves that by sim­ply cook­ing our own food, we can start ad­dress­ing some ma­jor prob­lems.

Hav­ing won a large part of my bat­tle against the bulge in the kitchen, I have to agree with Pol­lan.

While I do ex­er­cise fre­quently, I do not be­lieve I would have been able to lose 40kg and im­prove my health as dra­mat­i­cally as I have in the past 18 months, had I not changed my diet. And a ma­jor part of this change has in­volved cut­ting out con­ve­nience foods and cook­ing my own meals in­stead.

“Home cook­ing is in free fall,” says Pol­lan, and: “as rates of home cook­ing de­cline, rates of obe­sity go up.” How­ever, he adds, it has been well doc­u­mented that “around the world, the coun­tries where home cook­ing is still healthy… have lower rates of obe­sity.”

When we cook our own food and ex­er­cise healthy eat­ing habits, we also set a good ex­am­ple for our chil­dren and the chil­dren around us.

And if you con­sider that obe­sity rates are in­creas­ing among South African chil­dren and ado­les­cents, this be­comes even more im­por­tant.

In line with some of the find­ings re­vealed in the Healthy Ac­tive Kids SA 2018 re­port card, which I wrote about last week, I’d like to make a sin­gle sug­ges­tion: let’s take back con­trol over what goes into our – and our kids’ – bod­ies.

One of the sober­ing re­sults from the re­port card is that we scored an “F” for our ef­forts to re­duce chil­dren’s in­take of sugar-sweet­ened bev­er­ages, salt and fast food.

When I was at school, “F” was for fail.

An­other re­sult is that as many as half of South African chil­dren reg­u­larly buy food from a school tuck shop and don’t take a packed lunch. This wouldn’t be so bad if tuck shops were sell­ing healthy foods, but the research shows that most food sold by school tuck shops is of poor nutri­tional value and is loaded with sugar and salt.

I know that Jan­uary is the most pop­u­lar time for res­o­lu­tions, but how about we make a com­mit­ment to our­selves. Now. To im­ple­ment one small change at a time.

You can start by mak­ing a home-cooked meal. Or pack­ing a lunch bag. Let me know how it goes.

Fol­low @edit­edeat­ing on so­cial me­dia.

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