Home cooking: Good for your health

Little boy cutting vegetables while his father cooking food in kitchen. Father and son preparing food at home kitchen.

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Can you imagine if you went to your primary care doctor’s office for cooking classes? What if your visit included time spent planning meals, discussing grocery lists and the benefits of home cooking, and learning culinary techniques?

If that sounds odd to you, it shouldn’t.

We already know that the more people cook at home, the healthier their diet, the fewer calories they consume, and the less likely they are to be obese or develop type 2 diabetes. A growing body of scientific evidence supports teaching patients how to cook meals at home as an effective medical intervention for improving diet quality, weight loss, and diabetes prevention.

In fact, research is turning to studying the value of nutrition programs that include cooking instruction. These programs have been shown to help people adhere to a healthier diet, eat smaller portions, and lose weight — improvements that lasted as long as a year after the study ended. These programs can even help patients with type 2 diabetes to eat healthier, lower blood pressures and blood sugars, and lose weight. Hard to believe it, but time in the kitchen can be as valuable as medication for some people with diabetes.

I recently met with a lovely patient of mine,* She has type 2 diabetes, and has trouble eating a healthy diet. Most of her meals are frozen dinners or takeout, which is all highly processed food with little nutritional value. I asked her if she would like to consult with a nutritionist.

“I have, many times,” she laughed. “They’re all very nice and everything, and it’s all good information, but I can’t cook. I get to the produce section of the grocery store, and I don’t know where to start.” Aha. No surprise, then, that multiple studies have shown that home cooking instruction significantly increase a person’s confidence in his or her food preparation skills, which translates into eating a healthier diet.

Diet and lifestyle interventions have already been shown to be quite effective for weight loss and prevention of type 2 diabetes, and adding a home cooking instruction component could be even more powerful.

Let’s get cooking!

*True story, details changed to protect the patient’s identity.

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Grilled Zucchini with Red, Green, and Yellow Pepper Sauce

Ingredients

Zucchini

  • 6 firm medium zucchini, sliced diagonally into thin rounds
  • 1/4 tsp Atlantic sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp Ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Unrefined canola oil

Sauce

  • 2 Tbsp Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Tbsp Fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Unsweetened white rice vinegar
  • Pinch Atlantic sea salt
  • Pinch Ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Unsweetened date honey
  • 1 Small clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 Medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 Medium yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 Medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 Medium green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch cubes

Instructions

Prepare zucchini

  1. Place zucchini rounds in a medium bowl, mix with salt and pepper, and toss with oil to coat.

  2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, roast zucchini rounds for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until dark lines appear. Transfer to a large bowl.

Prepare sauce

  1. In a small bowl, mix together olive oil, lemon juice, and vinegar until combined.

  2. Add salt, pepper, and date honey, and mix until combined.

  3. Add garlic, onion, and parsley, and mix well.

  4. Add peppers and mix again.

Finish dish

  1. Pour pepper mixture over zucchinis, and let sit for about 30 minutes, to allow flavors to blend.

  2. Serve at room temperature.

Additional information and selected sources

Additional free and simple recipes from Dr. Rani Polak

Free cooking at home cooking videos from the American Collage of Preventative Medicine (ACPM)

Dr. Rani Polak’s Harvard Medical School Talk@12: “What to Eat: The Emerging Field of Culinary Medicine”

Is cooking at home associated with better diet quality or weight-loss intention? Public Health Nutrition, June 2015.

Consumption of Meals Prepared at Home and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: An Analysis of Two Prospective Cohort StudiesPLOS Medicine, July 2016.

Impact of cooking and home food preparation interventions among adults: outcomes and implications for future programsJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, July-August 2014.

Impact of cooking and home food preparation interventions among adults: A systematic review (2011-2016)Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, February 2018

Related Information: Healthy Eating for Type 2 Diabetes

Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” – Mark 11:24

“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” – Proverbs 12:25

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” – Luke 12:25

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” – Matthew 7:11

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” – Proverbs 17:22

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” – Proverbs 4:23

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” – James 1:2-3

“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” – Proverbs 3:6

Recommended contacts for prayer request and Bible study

http://agapetemplesda.com/

https://itiswrittencanada.ca/watch/

http://www.itiswritten.com/

www.adventistontario.org

http://www.nadadventist.org/article/15/contact-us

http://3abn.org/all-streams/3abn.html

https://www.adventist.org/en/utility/contact/

http://www.imsmedia.org/watch-online/total-onslaught-series

 

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