Happy National Nutrition Month! Every March we get an entire month to think about and celebrate the food we eat and the choices we make to get and stay healthy.
This year’s theme is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle,” which encourages everyone to make healthy and informed food and physical activity choices every day in order to live the healthiest life possible.
We all know by now the importance of following a healthy lifestyle, but the real issue is how to realistically achieve this day after day. One of the most basic changes is to start preparing meals at home.
Even if you aren’t a gourmet cook, home-cooked foods will almost always be healthier (read: lower in fat, sugar, and calories and higher in fiber and nutrients) than those served away from home at restaurants.
The New York Times recently ran a story that examined what 2000 calories looks like at various restaurants versus at home, and the visual images of how to obtain a day’s worth of calories is striking. The amount of food you get from the home-cooked meals truly looks like it would carry you through a full day compared to the same amount of calories at any restaurant, which often provide a full day’s worth of calories at only one meal.
The takeaway message is that cooking at home will certainly help you reach and maintain a healthy weight, with the added benefits of being more filling, more delicious, more nutritious, and more affordable.
This Nutrition Month, I encourage you to cook at home more often as part of a healthy lifestyle. If you’re a regular cook, explore some new Mediterranean diet recipes or commit to cooking every day this month.
If you’re a novice, set aside one day a week that you can learn some basics (check out these cool infographics on food and cooking for inspiration) or sign up for a cooking class; stay tuned for heart-healthy cooking demonstrations to be offered at OHSU’s Center for Health & Healing.
You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment after creating your own healthy meals, and it will be healthier, and hopefully tastier, than take-out!
Tracy Severson, RD, LD, is the dietitian for the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the Knight Cardiovascular Institute. She specializes in nutrition counseling for cardiovascular health and weight management.