A commitment to cooking from scratch is more than just controlling the quality of your food. It’s also about making it harder to eat.
Historically, it has often been hard for people to get enough to eat. Thankfully that is no longer the case for most of us, but it also means that we can eat ourselves into various diseases of dietary excess.
But cooking from scratch not only helps you weed out the chemicals, it also helps weed out the junk food, even if just because much of our favorite unhealthy things are a huge BOTHER.
Think about it: If you had to peel, cut up, soak, parboil, dry, and fry your own french fries, how often would you make french fries? If you had to slice and fry your own potatoes, how often would you have chips? And if you had to visit the chemist for that orange powder they put on Doritos, do you think you would actually eat the nasty stuff?
In Michael Pollan’s new book Cooked, he has a great quote from a guy that does food related surveys (to sell to food processors). Pollan asks him how people can get out of this food related mess we are in. He says (not believing that people will actually do this)…
“You want to make people eat less? Easy. Cook it yourself. Eat anything you want, just cook it yourself.”
I would quibble slightly. I think we still need to be careful of the copious amounts of super cheap refined sugar, flour, and fats that we have available. So maybe not eating anything that you didn’t refine yourself might be another rule of thumb. And after all, most of us don’t put in the physical labor to grow the foods that we eat either, so you need to keep that in mind.
But over all, that would be a good place to start when you want to improve your diet. Frankly the reason a smoothie is my go-to breakfast is because it’s so easy (plus it doesn’t sit around in my stomach all morning weighing me down).
If you make a pact with yourself that you won’t eat anything that you haven’t cooked or prepared yourself, it refines your diet without really even giving anything up.
I decided, when I bought my hand crank ice cream machine, that I wouldn’t eat ice cream at home unless I made it myself. And the work and the expense of buying the high quality ingredients (milk and cream from grass-fed local cows, maple syrup for sweetening) provide enough deterrent to eating ice cream that we only make (and subsequently only eat) ice cream for special occasions, mostly when we have house guests.
Keep special occasion foods for special occasions when you have the time to prepare them yourself. And time to appreciate them fully.