CAT | General Health
Fast food commercials make dinner seem quick and easy—but is it worth the impact to your health and your waistline? Recent studies have found that although portion sizes have stopped growing in the last decade or two, the amount of calories, saturated fat and sodium served at the drive-thru is still far too high, contributing to a nationwide increase in obesity and chronic disease. In 2015, make it your goal to curb the fast food and cook more meals at home.
A new study out of Johns Hopkins University examined the eating habits of roughly 9,000 U.S. adults and found that those who prepare and eat the majority of their meals at home consume fewer calories, unhealthy fats and carbohydrates—not to mention less sugar—than those who opt for fast food.
The study, published this month in the journal Public Health Nutrition, was led by Julia Wolfson, a trained chef and fellow at the university’s Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for a Livable Future. While many people think cooking at home is too expensive or time consuming, says Wolfson, she stresses it is often easier than one might think. Here are a few simple tips to help you get started:
- Plan ahead! Choose recipes, make a list and shop over the weekend to make weeknight meal prep faster and simpler. You can also chop veggies in advance, or prepare and freeze meals and individual portions.
- Choose fewer processed foods, more real foods. Learn to shop the perimeter of the grocery store, where you will find fresh produce and healthy protein sources. Avoid the center aisles that contain pre-packaged, processed foods loaded with added sugar and carbs.
- Take a beginner cooking class or go online. Classes are often offered through local schools and community centers, but the Internet is also a valuable resource for recipes, ideas and instruction. Just one video can transform dinner!
- Get kids involved. Even the pickiest kids and teens will usually try something new if they are included in the process. Let them choose recipes, help with shopping and preparation, and even offer their own suggestions.
With better nutrition comes better health and weight management, and cooking at home allows us to make smarter choices about the foods we eat and the meals we prepare for our families. The more you cook at home, the simpler it will get, and the healthier you will feel in 2015!
Did you know tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States?i Even still, more than 42 million American adults are smokers—and every day nearly 4,000 kids under 18 try their first cigarette.ii If kicking the habit is on your list of better health resolutions in 2015, here’s a quick tip: make sure you eat plenty of fiber.
Researchers from the University of Auckland School of Medicine in New Zealand recently determined that a diet high in fiber may play an important role in supporting lung health. Specifically, dietary fiber helps reduce the inflammation that cause progressive damage and ultimately lead to diseases such as emphysema, COPD and lung cancer, which can shorten the lives of smokers by up to 20 years.
According to lead author Professor Robert Young, results of the study support the theory that the benefits of a high-fiber diet are obtained through the increased absorption of naturally occurring anti-inflammatory chemicals produced by healthy gut bacteria, which are nourished by dietary fiber.
While they agree quitting smoking is the best way to ensure optimal lung function and overall health, the research team recommends increasing dietary fiber intake as smokers take steps toward tobacco-free living. Keep your fiber intake high by eating plenty of non-starchy vegetables and low-sugar fruits, and let’s make 2015 the year you finally kick the habit!