Why Home Cooking is Important for Optimal Health and Wellness

Why Home Cooking is Important for Optimal Health and Wellness

When I was in my early 20's, I couldn't cook a good meal to save my soul. Even though I had grown up watching and helping my mom in the kitchen, I just never really embraced the joy of cooking.

It seemed no matter how hard I tried to cook, I failed at it. Nothing ever turned out right or tasted very good. I was the girl who would neglect to read the recipe all the way through before I started, only to find out three steps into the recipe that I'd already somehow screwed it up.

Fast forward 20 years, I've finally gotten the hang of it, and thank goodness, because I never realized how important it is for optimal health and wellness until I had an unexpected case of thyroiditis hit me and had to nourish my body back to normal.

Did you catch what I just said?

Eating the RIGHT foods were a key factor in returning my health to normal.

Nutrition Matters!

Home cooking is one of the easiest ways to improve your and your family's health. I always like to say "nutrition matters," because it does. When we feed our body real food that it recognizes, it is much more efficient at processing it than it is when we feed it preservatives, chemicals, and excessive amounts of processed sugar.

Sure, your body can handle a candy bar every now and then. It won't kill you. The cheeseburger you grabbed for lunch at Burger King won't make you sick right this moment. It's about the cumulative effect these choices have on your body over years of eating a particular way.

Eventually, the liver, gallbladder, and digestive system get overloaded and they slow way down in their ability to process what we throw at them. *Fyi - the liver is what removes excess estrogen from your body. If it's not working optimally, this can create hormone problems. 

Keep in mind, however, when you're already in the mess of a health problem, good nutrition is not a quick fix. It's not like taking a pill, and POOF, your symptoms are all gone. You didn't get sick overnight. You won't get better overnight either. It takes time. It requires a change in lifestyle. When you eat the right food for your body, you will notice a gradual difference in how you feel.

In my case, with thyroiditis, it took me three years (zero medication) to get my thyroid functioning optimally again. Yes. It was a loooonng time, and certainly not always easy. However, the benefit gained was in the lessons I learned along the way.

  • I learned how to eat according to my body's nutritional needs rather than grabbing the first thing I saw or craved. The wrong foods made me feel worse. This made it easier to choose healthier options.

 

  • I learned how different foods affect my energy levels, my digestion, my brain function, my quality of sleep, my level of endurance, my hormones, my skin, my hair, my nails, and even my libido.

 

  • I learned that good nutrition is powerful - food is medicine!
**I do believe there is a time and a place for western medicine. Medicine saved my husband's life when he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, and he'll be on medication for the rest of his life. His was a case where food alone was not enough to heal, but food and lifestyle definitely play a powerful role in his own personal quality of life.

What are some of the health benefits of home cooking?

  1. You can control the individual ingredients which could equate to less sodium, higher quality food sources, less chemicals and less processed food.
  2. You can control the cooking methods - baking vs. frying, or grilled chicken as opposed to breaded.
  3. You can control your portion size which means you'll be less likely to overeat. Overeating contributes to obesity.
  4. You get to feel proud of what you've created in the kitchen which equates to a sense of joy-filled accomplishment.
  5. You are more likely to save money on a home-cooked meal than a restaurant dinner. Yes, finances do impact your health.
  6. You can customize the flavors of your meal to suit your preference, making for a more satisfying experience.
  7. You'll consume more nutritious foods which will nourish and satiate your body so you'll experience less cravings.
  8. Your body will be able to recognize the food coming into it and will use it in a way that creates health and happiness.

How to Get Started with Home Cooking

First, you have to want to be healthier. You have to make a decision that is in your best interest and the best interest of those you'll be cooking for.

Once you decide you want to make a change, you have to know why. Knowing your "why" will keep you motivated to continue the journey, even on those days when driving through the Wendy's drive-thru just seems so much easier because you're hungry right this moment.

Home cooking is not always the most convenient option. I'll give you that! With a little bit of planning, it really isn't all that difficult, though.

Start by creating a simple meal plan for one week.

Look at your calendar and see what you have going on in the evening hours around dinner time. If you have something going on that keeps you out of the house until late, consider doing an easy crockpot meal that day. It will be cooking while you're out of the house and is simple to dish up as soon as you walk in the door.

There are a lot of quick, simple, and healthy meal ideas you can consider, and there is nothing wrong with repetition if it gets you away from dining out or eating processed junk. You can always add variety later once you've established a new routine.

For me, breakfast is almost always two eggs over medium with a side of vegetables, or an apple with greek yogurt and raw cacao nibs sprinkled over top.

Lunch is usually a nice big veggie salad. Soaking and cooking beans at the beginning of the week make a good protein addition to a salad.

For dinner, I always start with a protein source and add lots of fresh vegetables on the side. Sometimes I like to add quinoa or brown rice as well. Since those take longer to prepare, I plan ahead and make them when I know I'll be home while they simmer on the stove. Then I just quickly reheat them when I'm ready for them. (By the way, I discovered I really love making brown rice porridge for breakfast with leftover rice. SO good!) Fruit makes a perfect dessert for a sweet tooth. Try grilling or baking it! Yum!

Here are just a few of my go-to meals (*my hubby is a meat and potatoes kind of guy):

→  Grilled chicken breasts. I purchase thin breasts so they cook quicker on my countertop smokeless grill.

→  Oven-baked chicken thighs. These cook up nicely in only about 20 minutes or so and are delicious - and cheap!

→  Grass-fed burgers are ready to eat in 10-15 minutes. I cut fresh potatoes into fries, shake them in a bag with a healthy oil, and roast them on a cookie sheet at 425 until they're brown.  They are usually ready by the time the burgers are cooked. I even like to make my own burger buns when time allows.

→  Chuck Roast in the crockpot. You need at least 3 hours of slow cooking time. I toss in some onion, carrots, red cooking wine, organic beef broth, and a few sprigs of rosemary. Delicious!

→  Homemade tacos. Quick and so simple. I even do my own taco seasoning to avoid unnecessary chemicals from packaged taco seasoning. To avoid the processed taco shells I usually make my meal a taco salad instead.

Cooking at home doesn't have to be complicated, and it is so much healthier than dining out. I use my crockpot and my countertop grill for almost everything!

Remember, it's about progress, not perfection. The most important step is just to decide you want to be healthier and that you want it for your family, too! Then put your decision into action. Every little bit helps!

How does home cooking fit into your current lifestyle? What do you find most challenging about home cooking? I'd love for you to share your thoughts with me!

 

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Rosann Cunningham

Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Author at Rosann Cunningham
Rosann is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach specializing in hormone health. She is also a fitness junkie, with a specific passion for mixed martial arts style kickboxing and is trained in Krav Maga - a military self-defense fighting system. After a Hashimotos diagnosis which turned out to be a very wrong call, Rosann became her own health advocate and fought her way back to optimal health and wellness. She is determined to help her clients dig deep to find the root cause of their hormone health struggles, so they too, can thrive and live the abundant life of health and happiness they deserve. Rosann believes nobody should be a victim in life or in their health, so in her coaching practice she loves to integrate a martial arts style and sense of accountability.

1 Comment

  1. Barbie
    Great tips! I love to cook but don't always have the time. Planning ahead and having a meal plan in place are key for me. Thanks for sharing!

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