If you're worried about getting type 2 diabetes, make a beeline for the kitchen.
According to research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2015 in Orlando, people who ate two home-cooked lunches or dinners each day — about 11 to 14 homemade meals each week — had a 13 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who ate less than six home-cooked meals during the week. (There weren't enough data collected in order to make any conclusions about breakfast.)
For up to 36 years, the study authors tracked the lifestyle habits of nearly 58,000 women in the Nurses' Health Study and more than 41,000 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. When the study started, none of the participants had diabetes, heart disease, or cancer.
What's more, researchers found eating homemade meals was also associated with less weight gain in middle-aged and older professional adults over an eight-year period.
Why Home Is Where The Health Is
"When you eat at home, you serve yourself the portions and types of food you plan to eat," says Jackie Newgent, RDN, culinary nutritionist and author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook. "However, when you're dining at a restaurant, you're served the portions and types of foods that they choose to serve you."
For one thing, she says it's much easier to fill up on a hearty serving of non-starchy vegetables (think broccoli, spinach, and cauliflower) rather than relying on a restaurant to fulfill your nutritional needs. "And you can [ensure] your grains are whole grains at home, but you're more likely to find processed 'white' grains when dining or ordering out," she says.
Newgent adds that this latest study should be taken as good news for people with type 2 diabetes: "It helps confirm that they themselves have the ability to make the biggest impact on their own diet," she says. "This doesn't mean that people with diabetes or prediabetes shouldn't eat out. But it does mean that it's likely easier to have calorie-friendlier dishes — and better overall diet quality — when you're in charge of making your own meals."