When the weekend rolls around it’s time to relax, decompress, and recharge for the week ahead. So we go out to eat and drink.
Considering the plethora of food options that modern society provides us, it’s pretty hard to stay at home and cook, cause you can order Seamless or just go out. Right?
Thing is, we do it too much.
It’s nothing new to hear that there has been a rise in obesity in recent years. But what is interesting is the correlation between more eating out, grabbing takeout, and our growing waistlines. While there’s certainly no direct causation to obesity and going out, or takeout, it’s something well worth exploring. The question to answer from this, why don’t we cook at home and eat with others more often?
Going Out to Eat is a Rising Trend
For most people in the 1950s it was an event to go out to grab a nice dinner. Now it’s the norm. I’ve even gone out to eat quite a bit myself in the past year or so. Nowadays, going to a “nicer” place to eat is the event, because we dine out so often!
The New York Times published a great article outlining the rising trend of going out to eat. In 1955, 19 percent of the American family’s food budget went to dining out. Flash-forward to 2002 and that number has doubled. Given the fact that the restaurant business is a $709.2 billion market and growing, according to the National Restaurant Association, it’s safe to assume that more and more of the American family’s budget is going towards takeout or dining out.
But we should cook at home more often, not just because it’s cost efficient. Rather because we know what we’re putting into our bodies, it’s healthier, and it has a positive effect on our relationships as well.
Why Cooking at Home is Healthier
I’m not saying that you should cut eating out altogether, just don’t do it so often. The biggest reason is because you have the knowledge of what you’re putting into your body, you can control portions size, and the nutrients that make up your meal.
The restaurant industry isn’t the only thing that’s grown in the past 50 years; it’s also been our portion sizes. Just take one look at the serving sizes of a soda on this Huffington Post infographic. In 1950, the average serving size of soda was seven ounces, now it’s 42 ounces! That’s six times the average size of the past. And it’s not just sodas; everything is larger than it once was.
As if portion size wasn’t bad enough, each restaurant serving size is filled with large servings of sodium, oil, fat, and sugar. In moderation it’s not bad, but on a consistent basis? It starts to make a lot of sense that our society is overweight.
Cooking at home has so many benefits:
-You’ll be able to manage your portion sizes.
-You’ll know what and how your food was cooked.
-You can add protein and healthy fats into your meals.
-It’s cost effective.
Need I say more?
The final reason that we should be cooking at home isn’t so much related to physical health, though that’s a big part of it: cooking at home can solidify your existing relationships.
Cooking with Others Strengthens Relationships
There’s a very human element to cooking with others. It’s something that we’ve done for ages, it’s part of our history, it’s something engrained in who we are as humans. You break bread with people who are important to you—whether it’s family, friends, or a significant other. You, me, everyone cooks and eats with one another.
John Favreau, director of Chef, discusses with Tim Ferris on his podcast the research that went into the movie. During the filmmaking he discusses having fun with a group of people, who just worked on cooking meals and eating together. Jon also admitted that he didn’t have much to talk about with his family, given his out of the ordinary life. Cooking meals together though seemed to bridge that gap.
And that’s because cooking with others, and eating with them, is the ultimate icebreaker. The type of food, the cuisine, and helping each other to make a good meal is guaranteed to add up to some sort of interesting conversation. Whether it is just getting to know someone, catching up, or finding common ground with someone you have known for years—like your family.
Anne Fishel, an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School wrote in the Washington Post that kids who eat with their families do better in every way: from grades, to eating healthier, to not engaging in high-risk activities, and eating at home even provides them with a more positive outlook on life.
If you live alone, or maybe don’t have that big of a social circle, try inviting others to come prepare and dine with you in your own home. It’s personal, builds friendships, and connects other people. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
Though there’s no direct causation to cooking and eating at home. There’s a lot of research that says you will be healthier and better connected with others when you do. So cook with someone, eat with someone, and enjoy.