“Sustainable weight loss starts in the kitchen,” says Jenny Markowitz, a Pennsylvania-based registered dietitian. The benefits, she explains, are fourfold. For one, home-cooked meals have less sodium, sugar, and fat, and fewer calories than prepared foods or restaurant fare. There’s also the idea that when you put the thought and time in to plan and prepare a meal, you’re more likely to devote equal attention when eating—and thus lower your chances of overeating. Another plus: when you’re the one in the kitchen, you can make better-for-you swaps or adjustments, like adding extra vegetables or dialing back the butter in a recipe.
And the biggest incentive, per Markowitz: “You develop a lifelong skill plus the confidence that comes along with it,” she says. “Both will help you navigate any menu, grocery store, or eating situation so that you’re informed and empowered to make decisions that work for your nutritional goals.”