Satisfaction and benefits of cooking meals at home are enchanting
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.
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