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Fight Obesity: Use Your Kitchen

makingbreadI don’t mean to cause any alarm, but we have a food problem in this country. It has been described as a “war” and an “epidemic.” And it’s causing a lot of angst and concern for the health and welfare of ourselves and our children.

Experts are working on solving the problem in any number of ways — some a little off the wall, some downright sensible and serious. Food industries are doing their part in make us feel like we’re making healthy choices (even if we’re not). Schools are rethinking their menus and even their layouts. Even the First Lady of the United States is digging her hands in deep to try to turn this obesity thing around.

And you? What are you doing? Are you fighting the war against obesity on the home-front? A few weeks ago Jane Brody of the New York Times wrote that while sugar and high-fructose corn syrup have justly been demonized for their part in the obesity epidemic, it is merely a small factor of many that are contributing to this serious health problem. Among the most effective solutions, she suggests, is returning to the kitchen to prepare our own food from scratch more frequently.

“The increase in obesity began nearly half a century ago with a rise in calories consumed daily and a decline in meals prepared and eaten at home,” she writes.

The more we eat out, and the more we rely on convenience foods, the less we know about what we eat and the more we are at the mercy of the food industry for our health and well-being. Our sense of a portion size has become distorted and so have our waistlines.

But when we cook at home, we know exactly what we are eating. We know how it is prepared. We have a sense for how much fat and sugar and sodium are in it. And we appreciate it more.

I know what you’re thinking: you don’t have the time or the money for homecooking. This is just another thing to add to your already too-full plate, or to send you on a guilt trip for not being able to be all things to all people or at least not a gourmet chef to your family.

You may be surprised, however, to find, that home-cooked meals generally don’t take that much longer to make than “convenience food.” And cooking at home from fresh ingredients can actually save you money.

But how can you be surprised by it if you don’t try it? KJ Dell’antonia of The New York Times Motherlode blog is going to try it. For a week: from June 16-22. She’s promised to document her experience preparing more of her family’s food at home. I’ll be following along and doing the same as I wage my own personal war against obesity, on the home-front, in my kitchen.

And I challenge you to do the same.

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