Losing weight over a long period of time, and maintaining that weight loss, hinges on making good food choices. I believe the easiest way to guarantee that you are making good food choices is to be as hands on with your food as possible.
I have always enjoyed cooking, and I have not stopped since I’ve been striving to lose weight; I just cook different kinds of food, and I portion my food appropriately. I understand that not everyone has the inclination or opportunity to make the bulk of their meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner), but here are four reasons why I’d encourage you to at least throw in a least a few self-made meals a week:
You can easily modify your ingredients and meals as needed. It’s far more convenient for you to substitute reduced-fat cheese for whole milk than it may be to find a takeout place or restaurant that will do it. If you must have French fries, you can ensure that they are crisped in the oven rather than in a vat of oil. Cooking your own food gives you more power to ensure that your food is appropriate nutritionally, and you don’t have to have a course-by-course clash with a waiter to get this to happen.
You can experiment and create a win-win for everyone in your house. If you switch up ingredients in your old stand-by recipes with healthier ones (like lean ground turkey rather than 20% fat ground beef, or whole wheat pasta for white), you can improve the nutrient profile of everyone in your family. If you introduce new foods, and find hits that everyone enjoys, you will have expanded the palate of your family and given yourself more latitude with better eating, as you’ll have more options to choose from.
You can save money. If you have the right staple ingredients on hand; buy in bulk when it makes sense; look out for sales; and use coupons, if you do that sort of thing (I don’t have the patience myself), you can make your favorite foods at home for less money than it takes to buy a week’s worth of pre-made foods.
You’ll know what you’re eating. If you’re using fresh ingredients to cook your own meals, you will have created meals with items whose names you can pronounce. You’ll know that your grilled steak wasn’t adulterated with oil right before serving, to improve the look. There’s less guesswork to try to solve.
These are my pragmatic reasons for cooking and eating at home while I lose weight. On top of the practical reasons, I just find cooking fun in general! As I’ve said on Twitter, I’m one of those people who finds it fun and relaxing to chop vegetables. But for people who don’t want to be a de Kooning of the cutting board, it is possible to be a microwave Michelangelo and still reap the benefits. Hmm, cooking shortcuts sounds like an idea I should tackle…
In the meantime, do you mostly cook your own food, or do you purchase pre-made? What are your reasons? Talk to me!