Why You Should Cook More to Weigh Less!

As anyone who’s tried realizes, losing weight is hard work!  Conversely most of us would agree that the same could be said for staying fit and maintaining a healthy weight.  Fortunately, you can adopt a few healthy habits to make both endeavors much easier.  To start with,  walk more!  And also: cook more. Just cooking more helps, even if you’re not an expert lean cuisine chef.  Remember, walk more / cook more!

How? By cooking at home, we can avoid the pumped-up salt, sugar, and fats content in nearly all take-out, fast-food, and restaurant fare. We can control portions more easily. We can add more vegetables, reduce starch, prepare a lot of what we don’t gorge on. We can cook extra to bring for lunch and so avoid cafeteria food. We can get used to, and start preferring, real fresh foods that are good for our health and waistlines.

Two common myths with respect to cooking:

1.  Cooking takes too long

Research has shown that and setting up a take-out family only saves a few minutes over a simple home-cooked meal.

2.  You have to be a good cook (and like it).

Just about anyone can put together some of the simple combinations discussed below. Even if you don’t know how to cook, you can learn some very simple basics.

Today, five- ingredient cookbooks (and other similarly low numbers) have become more and more popular. They appeal to both too-busy and don’t-know-how cooks. Look through a few and choose one to try. Recipes limited to five (or four, or seven) ingredients are almost always easy and quick to put together. Some of the work, like vegetable-chopping, can even be done in advance. For example, some find it helpful to chop vegetables for snacks and for recipes upon returning from the supermarket, or in a weekend free time.

Cook more than you need?

By cooking enough for more than one meal, i.e. making enough for two dinners, or two dinners and some lunches, you can minimize your  time spent cooking. Casseroles, soups, stews, and many vegetarian dishes lend themselves well to this.

Even easier than the five-ingredient cookbooks are the “101 Ways….” articles by Mark Bittman, now in the New York Times articles archives. Bittman lists hundreds of quick meals of various types. Each is described in a single sentence. And that’s all the information you’ll need to make the dish.

You can develop a repertoire of favorites that you find easy and quick to make. You can then recycle them every couple of weeks. Start from wherever you are. If you only cook one meal a week now, think of increasing it to two or three, and so on. Any increase in home-cooked dinners, and work lunches brought from home, can boost your improved health and weight goals.


  • Bittman, Mark, “101 Fast Recipes”, “101 Fast Recipes for Inspired Picnics”, and others. New York Times (go to www.nytimes.com/archives) to search for these articles. They are also compiled in his book Quick and Easy Recipes From the New York Times.
  • Cooking Light. This monthly magazine contains many “lightened up” recipes as well as cooking technique articles. The publication has a book of limited-ingredient recipes as well.
  • Everyday With Rachael Ray. This magazine has many 30-min. or less recipes that are easy and taste good. Some, but not too many, processed foods are used. One thing the magazine does do well is promote the idea that cooking is fun, and possible for everyone. Limited ingredient and time-limited cookbooks are also on offer.
  • Whole Living magazine, October 2011, lays out an easy system of preparing a week’s work of whole foods-friendly meals.
  • Eat Sanely: Get Off the Diet Roller Coaster for Good, Chapter 5, offers more ideas on incorporating home meals into your life www.eatsanely.com/order
  • “Finding the Best Way to Cook All Those Vegetables,” by Tara Parker-Pope, New York Times, May 20, 2008

Terese Weinstein Katz, Ph.D.

Dr. Katz is a clinical psychologist, eating disorders specialist, diet coach, and author. Her workbook Eat Sanely: Get Off the Diet Roller Coaster for Good is available in paperback and ebook format. Her work aims to help as many people as possible eat more sanely in our food-crazy world. Visit her at www.eatsanely.com

2 thoughts on “Why You Should Cook More to Weigh Less!

  • November 3, 2011 at 2:18 am

    Cooking really doesn’t take too long. Sometimes I’m just too lazy. Knowing how to cook is a good way to get proper daily nutrition.

  • November 2, 2011 at 9:14 am

    Not knowing how to cook “real food” limits you to eating processed meals heavy in carbs, sugar, fat, chemicals, etc…

    One of the best things that can be done to reverse the obesity epidemic would be to teach our kids how to cook – at home and/or at school

    Home Ec and gym classes would go a long way to making our society healthier



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