There are days when you are so busy that eating becomes a forced task rather than an enjoyable activity. Rushing to work or entering a classroom with seconds to spare, it is not easy finding time to eat with others, especially when managing a busy schedule. Whether it is caused by tardiness or little self-motivation to get up earlier in the morning, eating on the go is not the best lifestyle choice. In fact, just a little time around the dinner table can help set you on track for maintaining physical wellbeing and mental sanity. Here are some reasons explaining why a home-cooked meal may be the best option. 

1. Control Over Eating Behaviors

pastry, candy, cake, sweet, chocolate
Kaitlin Wheeler

Thanks to your parents, many of your eating habits have already been developed into second-nature behaviors. That does not mean they cannot change though. During childhood, you learn to eat within a specific environment. A study produced by Nicola Kime proved that children who were obese were eating without structure, where no standard rules were implemented of when to eat at the dinner table, while families with healthier children made a set time to eat meals together.

Similarly, if you were being served hot cheetos for an after-school snack, this seemed normal because it was what you were exposed to by your parents. Once you grow older though, your environment changes for better or worse and you learn about a little thing called metabolism. Do not fret though, because cooking allows you to be in charge of your eating behaviors.

2. Being the Correct Cook

Kaitlin Wheeler

The book Mindless Eating explains the five categories cooks can fall into. They are either giving, healthy, innovative, methodical or competitive. All have their own styles, some wanting to make the best meal possible, while others focusing on creating new and healthier meals each time. One small tip, never become the giving cook. Falling into this category means that you tend to make too much food, typically traditional home-cooked meals that contain lots of fat and sugar to display your generosity. As long as you form your cooking skills around the goal of being healthy you probably will not fall into this trap.

3. Pacing Your Intake

sausage, potato, bacon, cheese
Kaitlin Wheeler

Eating with friends and family may be helping you more than you think. When sitting with others, you can unintentionally compare yourself to others around you, affecting the way you choose to intake your food, according to the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. If your friends are quickly eating, you feel rushed to finish, while the ones who eat as slow as snails can make you anxious. Even the amount of food you eat can be directly affected by how much people are eating around you. Pace yourself and eat your home-cooked meals with people who align with your health needs. 

4. Avoiding Fast Food Restaurants

pork, sauce, rice, chicken
Kaitlin Wheeler

The temptation of these restaurants is all too real when you are in times of stress. A bite of an In-N-Out hamburger or hot french fries from McDonalds seems to always be the perfect cure. A home-cooked meal with family and friends though, can keep you far from the beloved convenience of the drive-through. Even though a quick meal may be saving you time, the alternative option will save your stomach later that night. 

5. A Stable Meal Equals Stable Emotions

berry, grape, pasture
Kaitlin Wheeler

Feelings of love and satisfaction can stem from eating with others. A study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health explained the significance of eating with others and how it helped people gain a better sense of self-identity and happiness by being accepted into a group to eat with. Less dysfunctional eating times and habits can help you become more emotionally stable, even if it is from a dinner you are looking forward to later that night. 

6. Lighting Makes All the Difference

tea, coffee
Kaitlin Wheeler

Have you ever gone to a nice restaurant, but could barely see your food? A single candle lit your table, flickering on your plate. This is well-designed tactic by restaurants to encourage you to unintentionally eat more food, according to Mindless Eating. Without being able to see the portions clearly, it is hard to distinguish how quickly and how much you are eating. At home though, you have all the right to have the lights blinding in your face to make sure that you are not gorging without knowing it. 

Society sometimes makes us feel that life is too short to sit down and eat a meal. But making an effort to change your behavior and become the cook you have always dreamed to be is still an option, and a far better one. Without shared meals with friends and families, the enjoyment of food, the quality time spent cooking, and the memories of sitting around the table would all be lost. Don't let them be lost.