Cooking – A guide to maintaining your health through proper nutrition

Joy can be rooted from various things. For some, it may be their beloved pets which brighten their day, and for others, it may be spending quality time with your friends. For me, sometimes it’s finding happiness in the grocery store, looming over the delicious items I’m able to take home to prepare for a delicious meal. Food has rarely failed to please the world, but it matters where we get it. While restaurants and popular fast-food chains such as McDonalds have grown tremendously, it is important to eat healthy. Nutrients in food can promote the production of your body’s feel-good chemicals, most importantly dopamine and serotonin, which also impact your body’s sleep nature. Making sure your body receives the right amount of food and nutrition is crucial, especially as young growing teenagers. At the ages of around 12 to 19, we suffer more than ever with our self-images, sometimes to self-deprecating extents. Our bodies are temples, and treating them with generosity is key to happiness and health.

Anyone who says it’s easy to be healthy has not faced the reality of our generation. Say, you want to be healthy and you want to have the money and time to prepare nutritious meals, but the cost of going out of your way during a busy schedule to stop at the grocery store, research healthy dinners, pick out the ingredients, then driving home to prepare them all costing you another hour or so, sometimes isn’t ideal. Resorting to picking up meals from a drive-thru is much faster and more efficient, as well as saves you a few dollars for the time being. This generates one of the reasons as to why our generation does not consume as much nutritious food as we should. It is important to know what you consume, and when buying from chains such as McDonalds or Burger King, you’re potentially ingesting highly harmful ingredients and chemicals such as phthalates. These processed foods are not the healthiest for us, eating them regularly can cause health problems in the long term.

There is nothing wrong with stopping at the Chick-Fil-A drive through from time to time to satisfy our basic cravings and to simply enjoy the food, but to rely only on take out for majority of your diet is where it becomes a concern. Those with an income of around $40,001 and $50,000 actually spent the most money on take out each week, at an average of $117.82 a week, or roughly 12%-15% of their annual income. The cost of ingredients from a market which suffice your needs for a week is sure to cost you less. Being a student plays a significant role in when we find time to eat, considering the day-to-day classes filling up our schedules with no time to rest, and for some, afternoons are spent playing sports after school. Is it the quickness and inexpensiveness of take out which makes it sound much more appealing than cooking? Is it the cost of ingredients in opposition to the cost of French fries? Or is it simply the inability of our generation to know how to cook and save meals?

Not learning how to prepare meals is one of the biggest causes to why millennials resort to poor eating habits, and it’s a question as to why more schools don’t provide Home Economics courses. The Guidelines for health essentially describe the need to be able to cook, and the excuse of the cost for take-out vs. ingredients is undeniable when the cost per serving of a home-cooked meal is amazingly low, even when you use top ingredients. Home-cooked meals are 15-48% cheaper than fast food and have a similar preparation/waiting time to getting take out; eating healthy without breaking the bank takes thought, but it is realistic and doable. Consider the eventual savings in expensive pharmaceuticals to cure a sickness or illness that came from a diet poor in nutritional elements.

The ability to know nutrition and prepare proper meals does not come naturally, and takes learning as well as the right mindset. Studies show that thirty seven percent of millennials could not tell apart a kitchen knife from a butter knife, and less than half could tell you how many cups come in a gallon. According to the 2015 Farm to School Census, a survey of school districts nationwide, 33 percent hold regular in-school cooking demos and taste tests. Some of these home economics courses are available in states from the second grade. The class provides you with knowledge on how to prepare meals, proper ingredients to use, how to work your way around a kitchen, and time management. Some schools even provide more information with basic home skills. Yet, there are more resolutions other than advocating for a Home-economics course if this is not attainable in your school. Avoiding certain fast-food chains which contribute to ingesting improper substances can be something to look for. Stores like Sonic, Taco Bell, and Wendy’s may be next on your list of what to avoid when eating out regularly. There shouldn’t be an issue from time-to-time consumption from these chains, but consistently consuming their food is sure to negatively affect your health.

To work towards a healthier, and consequently more productive crowd of students here at Sacred Heart Academy would be my essential goal. Spreading the importance of nutrition and to also informing students everywhere the harms of a take-out-based diet, despite how appetizing it may appear, is essential. Preparing meals is possible, and can be done with some inspiration and planning, yet the skill to create delicious meals comes from practicing. This can be done through a Home Economics course, where we benefit from learning not only how to cook, but how to provide and care for ourselves once we are living in the real world.