February 21, 2013
Let’s Get Our Cook On For Healthier Eating
Scotland has found promising data that supports a healthy eating style, according to the BBC. Scotland organized government-funded cooking classes for some of its citizens and found interesting results.
University of Glasgow study leader Dr. Ada Garcia and her team first questioned 100 participants as they finished the cooking classes. The participants immediately filled out questionnaires about their experience and cooking confidence. The questionnaires showed that participants had an immediate boost in their own cooking abilities as well as felt more willing to prepare and try new foods. These results were promising enough, but the researchers wanted to know if these feelings lasted.
A year later, 44 of the original 100 participants agreed to be interviewed again. The immediate boost and positive feelings toward cooking had lasted for these 44. They still felt confidence in their abilities to follow simple recipes and use basic ingredients, although these feelings had slipped just a bit. Dr. Garcia and her team suggested that refresher courses would be useful to help promote cooking.
The most positive effect of the cooking class a year later was that the participants were eating fewer ready-made meals, which means they were preparing fresh meals with fresh ingredients. Additionally, they were eating more fruits and vegetables on a daily basis, as opposed to a few times a week. The cooking classes did more than just help these individuals build their cooking confidence; the classes helped to teach them to choose healthy foods.
Dr. Garcia said, “This suggests that the intervention has benefited participants’ eating habits and health not only in the short-term, but also in the long-term.”
Her study provides foundation and support to move onto the next step of a controlled trial in order to better understand the relationship between cooking classes, cooking confidence, and healthy eating. Scotland is like the rest of the world and feeling the constraints of budget cuts. But results like these should provide encouraging data for continued research.
These results really should not be all that surprising. It makes sense that once people understand the basics of how to cook, naturally they will want to cook more. Furthermore, they will likely want to learn more recipes and eventually begin experimenting with cooking.
Moreover, if they are cooking more, that means they are eating more fresh food, including more fruits, veggies, and grains. Cooking requires a lot of these for different recipes, so, of course, the participants would have more daily portions as compared to weekly ones prior to their cooking classes.
Cooking is a wonderful way to control what we eat. Yes, frozen meals are easier, but they are also full of too much sodium, sugar, preservatives, and other undesired “foods.” When we cook ourselves, we know exactly what we are putting into our meals. We also can make active choices about what we eat, which means we can eat healthier.
Plus, cooking is just plain fun. We can create meals that are both healthy and delicious for our families. Few actions are more loving than cooking. We spend time mixing and boiling and baking and steaming all to provide those we love (including ourselves) with the foods we need to live healthy lives. Cooking shows love.
I hope that more organizations look into the promising results of the University of Glasgow study. The more information we can provide to people about healthy eating, including healthy cooking, the better the chances are that people will make these changes in their dietary habits. That can only lead to a healthier world.
Image Credit: Photos.com