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There are a lot of diets out there in the world and let me tell you right now...spoiler alert...most of them don't work and aren't sustainable. So what does work? Eating healthy and having a good relationship with food, I know, vague right? Now we have talked a little bit in the past about having a good emotional relationship with food so today I thought we'd talk about eating healthy. A lot of things go into eating healthy or “eating clean.” Portion size, macro counts, type and quality of ingredients. My biggest tip for getting started is to cook at least one meal a day at home from scratch.

The most logical reason I recommend cooking for yourself is that you have more control over the ingredients. Even if you are at the best restaurant, even if there is calorie information listed on the menu, even if you use your Fitpal to track everything, you can't really be certain of what your getting. When you cook at home you know what ingredients are going in, what type of oil is being used, and how much salt was added. Also you will be less likely to over eat if you have made everything yourself. If you had to slice and deep fry our own potato chips or churn your own ice cream I bet there would either be less around and/or you'd make it last longer.

Which brings me to my second point. The more you cook for yourself the more you will appreciate your food. As a culture we have devalued our food, opting instead for convenience, but shouldn't what we put in our bodies to fuel our life be something of high value? Yes cooking takes time and energy but if you start valuing the food you use to run your body you will get more out of it. Cooking will help you to gain a new respect for your food.

I love to cook, and I love to make up recipes, for me getting creative in the kitchen can be a great joy. Now I know I said we weren't going to talk about food and emotion this time but the truth is I have a hard time separating the two. Cooking can seem like a chore that you would much rather out source to the drive thru. However it can have great benefits to our mental well being as well as our physical one. In a 2015 article Psychology Today toted cooking as “Meditation with the promise of a good meal afterwards.” They said that cooking can help you be more present in the current moment. If you have over eating problems or a bad relationship with food taking some time to become present in the moment before eating may help. Another article in The Journal of Positive Psychology posed that daily, small, creative projects lead to people being more relaxed and happy. So why not tap into the creative side of cooking? Have fun shopping for fresh ingredients, maybe check out a farmers market. Think about flavors that would go good together, try and recreate a dish you had at your favorite restaurant or from a childhood memory.

Food can also help us connect with other people. In the same article in Psychology Today they said that cooking together is a great way for couples to work on communication and cooperation. Making food with and for each other can be a caring and nurturing act.

So here is my challenge to you! If you are new to cooking and feel like you don't know what you're doing or don't like it, try developing one or two go to dishes and perfecting them. Having a go to date-night or potluck dish to share can be a real confidence booster. Take time to be present and enjoy the process. If you already enjoy cooking try taking it up a notch and see how few prepared or boxed ingredients you can use, make your own jam or sauerkraut, bake bread with a sourdough starter, make pasta by hand.

If you have any questions or want to share your cooking stories please comment below or reach out to us via email of social media.