Greetings and happy “Men’s Health Month!” This month is all about encouraging men to take care of their bodies by eating right, exercising, and working to prevent disease. Held every year in June, the goal for this campaign is to heighten awareness of preventable health problems.
Men’s Health Month serves to encourage early detection and treatment of diseases, including cancer, heart disease and depression.
As a VA dietitian working in an outpatient clinic, I often hear male Veterans of all ages say, “I live alone and I don’t know how/don’t like to cook for myself.” Many resort to frozen meals, canned meals or restaurant meals – including fast food from the drive-thru. Or they wish that someone would magically appear to prepare healthy (and delicious!) meals. In the meantime, they stop at the gas station or convenience store for ready-to-eat foods.
Suggestions to help you prepare quick and quality meals at home.
Loaded with fat, sodium, too many calories
While there are plenty of frozen meals-for-one that are moderate in sodium and quite tasty, most restaurant or convenience store meals are loaded with fat and sodium and too many calories.
This leads to weight gain, higher blood pressure and lower energy levels among other problems.
While we can’t provide personal chef services for you, we do have some great suggestions to help you learn to prepare quick and quality meals at home. Research shows that eating home cooked meals more often was associated with greater likelihood of having normal weight range and normal percentage body fat.
These ideas can start you on the road to living a healthier life
- Check out the recipes at https://www.myplate.gov/myplate-kitchen. Many recipes take 30 minutes or less. Best of all, you can create an account to save the recipes you like, and it will automatically build a grocery list of the items you’ll need to make them. Win-win!
- Choose to batch-cook a larger recipe and freeze portions for quick meals later in the week/month. Websites like the American Heart Association have lots of ideas for meals – like a current promotion to receive a free “10 under $10” digital recipe booklet.
- Treat yourself to a new kitchen “toy.” Air fryers, multi-cookers and indoor grills all come with great ideas for quick meals. If one of these sounds like fun and is affordable for you, give it a try!
- Don’t forget to ask your local VA for a Healthy Teaching Kitchen (HTK) class! Many VA locations are offering these classes virtually (using Video Connect technology).
Anne Koth is a VA outpatient clinic dietitian.