Pop quiz: It’s Friday night and you’re trying to decide where to take the family for a healthy dinner on the town. Should you pick a) a vegetarian restaurant, b) a Japanese restaurant, or c) a farm-to-table restaurant? The answer is actually d): none of the above. For the healthiest meal, eat in.
Recent research suggests that you make better food choices in the comfort of your own home. Real Age.com is a website devoted to the idea of healthy living habits as being the key to “living younger”. A recent post on that site discussed the idea that eating healthy can best be accomplished in one’s own home.
The article cited a study where researchers asked 160 women to log their emotional states and eating habits over a 10-day period, and found that women tend to eat healthier foods when they’re happy and at home. This decision in turn sets in motion a healthy chain reaction. Eating a healthy meal triggers even more positive emotions, which makes you choose healthier foods at the next meal, creating a cycle of positive reinforcement.
This cycle is more pronounced at home. Why? Scientists suspect it’s because home is where you feel most content, and there’s more comfort and happiness associated with a home-cooked meal. That happiness triggers healthier eating.
This supports the belief that healthy eating habits are based on more than just knowing what you’re supposed to eat. Your emotions play an important part too. To create your own “healthy eating cycle,” researchers suggest making your eating area as appealing and comfortable as possible. Play relaxing music, set a pretty table, light a few candles, and you’ll boost your mood — which will help whittle your waistline. Talk about happy endings!
Another suggestion from this article is to stock your kitchen with equipment that helps you cook in a healthful way. This can make your “real age” up to 4 years younger. Take the RealAge Test!
For related reading click on this link: Emotional reinforcement as a protective factor for healthy eating in home settings. Lu, J., Huet, C., Dubé, L., American Journal of Clinical Nutrition2011 Jul;94(1):254-261. Epub 2011 May 25.