Health practitioners should always be mindful of the different ways that they can encourage healthy behaviours in our patients. One of the best things any health professional can do is be an advocate for the benefits of cooking at home.
From GPs, to dentists and psychologists, we know that our patients’ diet will have an effect on health outcomes. While proper diagnosis and medical intervention are always paramount, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and the value of proper nutrition cannot be overstated.
Let’s examine a couple of reasons why health professionals should be advocates of home cooking.
Do patients know what is in their food?
Meals that are provided at restaurants may be overloaded with salt and butter. Packaged foods are often packed with sodium, preservatives and other additives that will never be as healthy as freshly cooked food.
When people cook for themselves, they have direct supervision over the ingredients that go into the meal. This allows them to only put in the exact amount of ingredients to be adequate for them rather than put their trust in a restaurant or packaged food brand that is prioritising taste/shelf longevity over nutrition.
The relationship between food and the body
Because cooking at home requires people to use a set amount of ingredients, they have to purchase these for themselves and are therefore going to be more frugal with how they prepare meals. This means avoiding the oversized portions commonplace at restaurants which tacitly encourage people to eat more than their body actually needs.
When people start learning more nutritious recipes to make in their home kitchens, their relationship with food changes and they will make better choices when they do go out for dinner. It also sets a good example for any children they may have, who will also grow up with a better relationship with food.
Greater social interaction with loved ones
It’s no secret that interaction with friends and family is essential for mental health and well-being. Humans are social animals, and a lack of human connection will predictably cause feelings of loneliness, that can lead to issues like depression.
Since everyone eats, it’s not hard to incentivise friends and family to get involved in the kitchen. The storytelling and laughter that occurs in the kitchen with close friends and family can be more worthwhile than the meal itself, at least in terms of improving the mental well-being of every who participates.
Sharing the food they’ve cooperated in preparing is another great chance for social interaction. Eating with others is always more preferable than eating alone, and it can actually put subtle pressure on people to eat healthier when they’re being observed.
Stimulating brain activity
An often overlooked benefit of home cooking is that it is a creative process that stimulates brain activity. Some people have no room for creativity in their work-life and will spend their free time consuming media content rather than stimulating their imaginative side.
Since home cooking has the utility of providing food, it’s a win-win when people stimulate their brains by engaging with it. Experimenting with different ingredients and treating the kitchen as a sort of laboratory of taste can even further enhance the cognitive benefits of home cooking.