Eating healthy is an important part of our everyday lives. When done in combination with physical activity, together, these two things can help reduce your risk of developing chronic (and oftentimes serious) illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer; while also helping you lose weight and/or maintain a healthy weight. However, because so many of us live such busy lives, there are times where it may be difficult to make healthy, nutritious meal choices and you will instead find yourself opting for foods that are quick and easy – such as fast food or packaged/processed “junk” foods (i.e. potato chips, cookies, etc.) While it’s okay to treat yourself in moderation, these types of foods aren’t ones that you should be consuming on a regular basis as they incorporate little to no nutritional value, which means your body isn’t getting adequate levels of the essential vitamins and minerals that it needs in order to keep you healthy and get you through each day. For these and other reasons, home-cooking is important.
One of the biggest problems in fast foods and processed foods is the surprisingly large amounts of salt, sugar, fat and other additives and preservatives that are hidden in them, which are used in order to enhance their flavour, prolong their shelf-life, and make them more likely to sell. Examples of processed foods include things like breakfast cereals, granola cars, cookies, pastries, crackers and sweetened beverages such as soda and even fruit juice. Even some brands of the foods that you might consider as being healthy can also turn out to be heavily processed, including yogurt and cheese. The best way be able to differentiate from foods that are heavily processed to ones that are less processed, is by looking at the number of ingredients printed on the label. If the list of ingredients is wrong or contains things that you are not able to pronounce or are unrecognizable, then it likely isn’t a product you should be eating. To know exactly what’s going into your body, we need to pick the freshest foods and the highest quality ingredients as possible to cook with, as opposed to picking something off a shelf that is already ready to go and only needs to be microwaved or stuck in the oven.
Aside from picking fresh foods, it’s also important to have a variety of healthy foods on your plate during each meal. The tongue has different receptors, including a sweet receptor, a sour receptor, as well as receptors that pick up on things that taste salty or bitter, in addition to something known as “umami” which picks up on the tastes of protein (i.e. meats.) Because it can be easy to get turned off by eating the same thing all the time, consuming a variety of foods is important because we hit more of the receptors this way, which will ultimately make us crave more of the healthier foods we choose. To add more flavour to your dishes, there are also two key ingredients that you can use for enhancement purposes: Onion and garlic. These serve as a great base for so many dishes, and are both packed with health benefits; they are loaded with nutrients, antioxidants, can help boost the immune system, have antibacterial properties, benefit the health of your heart, control blood sugar, and improve cholesterol levels, among other things.
If you have children, then as you know, they can sometimes be picky eaters. Fruits and vegetables may not always seem appealing to them if they’re placed in front of them, making them less likely to want to eat them. To give them a bit more incentive to want to eat more healthily, you can turn preparing meals into a fun family event – including grocery shopping, by letting them pick out the foods they want (as long as they’re healthy, of course), and by cooking them (as long as they are old enough and it is safe for them to do so.)