Diet Tips 101: Prepare your own food! One of the most under-appreciated and least utilized methods of improving your diet is simply to take on the responsibiltiy of preparing your own food. Food preparation (which is also known as “cooking”) is the one sure way to know what it is that you are eating. You will know how much added fat, added sugars, and added sodium that is in your daily diet. And by personally controlling these major contributors to overweight and obesity, you can take the most “hands on” approach to controlling your own health.
According to the most reliable government estimates, nearly one out of three American adults is now considered to be medically obese. The medical definition of obesity is having a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute has an online BMI calculator so that you can check your own BMI in the comfort of your own home. In addition to the 1/3 of Americans that are obese is another 1/3 of all adults who are considered to be overweight. That means that two out of every three American adults are overweight to some extent.
The main ways that food preparation helps our health is that cooking takes both time and effort. The time includes not only the cooking and prep time but also the time to go shopping. And all these efforts require you to get off your backsides to accomplish the tasks. Make the time to get to the market every single day so that your ingredients are always fresh and and so you can also accomplish the task of moving your body.
Stear clear of nearly all processed foods. Commercial bread and beverages in the United States are some of the biggest reasons why the US leads the world in obesity. If you make bread at home, you will see that you only need less than half a dozen ingredients. However, take a look at the ingredients list for commecial bread next time you are at the store and you will see more than 20 ingredients listed, most of which are unhealthy added chemicals and preservatives like high fructose corn syrup and azodicarbonamide (which is banned in most of the world, but not the good old USA!). If you have a hankering for candies or cookies, make them yourself from scratch.
Avoid all products which claim to be “diet” or “light” or “reduced fat” because they are some of the worst things you can put into your body. The term “reduced fat” almost always means added chemicals and greatly increased sugars. Also avoid any and all artificial sweeteners, which run the gamut of cancer-causing nightmares to those that simply make you hungry. The best beverage for your body is pure water. But a twist of lemon or lime is also good! Also, fresh made tea and coffee are better than canned beverages.
Also, no packaged fruit juices of any kind. These “juice drinks” usually are filled with added sugars and chemicals. Even the best of them are pasteurized and devoid of all the essential micronutrients which you body needs for good health. It is better to eat the fruit. Or if you want juice, buy fresh fruits and vegetables and juice them at home. These must be consumed immediately.
The very best part of making your own food is finding out how good things taste when they are not overwhelmed with added fats, sugars and sodium. The reason that processed foods use so much of these things that are bad for us is that they truly overstimulate the taste buds and hide the fact that the ingredients of most processed foods are of significantly inferior quality.
When making your own food, buy quality ingredients. Organic produce, meats and dairy products are available in most areas of the country. For improving your health, limiting your exposure to the toxic loads of insecticides and artificial fertizers is one of the best things you can do for your body.
Also avoid genetically modified food crops. Nature and/or God, depending on your belief system, created a wide variety of wonderful foods for us to enjoy. Only in the last 50 years, when man decided to “improve on nature” has overweight, obesity, and many other chronic health issues become so common.
As far as animal products, avoid those that have been fed growth hormones and antibiotics to fatten them up faster, unless you want the same thing to happen to you.
Learn to love spices and things with a lot of flavor instead of massive amounts of fat, sugar and salt. Make fruits and vegetables that mainstay of your food consumption and your health and your waistline will thank you.