People who eat most of their meals at home are typically healthier and are better able to maintain a healthy weight compared to people who eat out frequently. If you’re eating most of your meals at home, you’re already one step ahead of the rest, but there are still things you can do to improve your diet even more. Use the tips below to refine your cooking habits.
1. Go easy on the olive oil.
Olive oil is a great, flavorful way to add healthy fat to a meal, but portion control can be a problem. Just one tablespoon of olive oil has 100 calories. If a dish calls for a drizzle of olive oil, measure it out so you don’t end up with 300 or 400 calories of olive oil in your meal.
2. Use proper servings of low- or non-fat foods or go for the full fat.
Low- and non-fat products are lining grocery store shelves, but choosing them isn’t always better. While choosing low- and non-fat foods seems like an easy way to cut calories and fat, they’re often high in sugar. These "diet" foods can give a false sense of health and are often over-portioned. Use one serving of the full-fat version for a more flavorful, portion-controlled dish.
3. Don’t char foods while grilling.
Popular in the warmer spring and summer months, grilling is a healthy alternative to many other cooking methods, but if it’s done wrong it can be harmful to your health. Charred foods contain dangerous cancer-causing carcinogens. The next time you grill meat, fish, or veggies, keep an eye on the cooking temperature and remove foods before they char.
4. Choose herbs and spices over salt.
A pinch of salt here and there while cooking may not seem harmful, but can add up quickly. Eating too much salt increases your risk for stroke and heart disease. Reduce your risk for these diseases by skipping the salt and choosing herbs and spices for flavor.
5. Limit tasting.
The best chefs taste their food while cooking to make sure the flavor is just right. The problem: Too much tasting can add extra calories, and, over time, extra inches to your waistline. Eat healthy meal throughout the day to keep hunger at bay and be mindful of how many tastes you take while cooking. Limit it to one or two bites at the end to check for proper flavor and save your appetite for the meal.
Sally Kochtanek, MS, RD, is a performance nutritionist at Core Performance.