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dinner table with plate of foodWhen your goal is coming up with nutritious and delicious meals for yourself and your family, it’s easy to fall into a rut. Every week it’s Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Whatever Is in the Fridge Wednesday – you’ve been there. 

Yet while you know home-cooked meals tend to be healthier, throw in the prep time and clean-up, and it sure makes takeout pretty tempting. So if you need a little more stay-at-home motivation, you might want to check out the new study in Environmental Health Perspectives. 

It found that the more you eat out, the more likely you are to have PFAS chemicals coursing through your body. That’s what its authors found after analyzing NHANES data from over 10,000 participants in that noted ongoing health and nutrition survey. 

PFASs are a class of more than 5000 synthetic chemicals used in a wide array of consumer products to make them grease-, stain- and water-repellent. They don’t break down and so accumulate over time, making them known as “forever chemicals.” 

PFASs in [food packaging] have been

shown to migrate out of packaging and into food. PFAS migration from food-contact paper increases with higher temperatures, longer contact time, and the presence of emulsifiers.

“The study,” notes Environmental Health News,

is the first to link certain foods and PFAS exposures in Americans and adds to mounting evidence that food packaging, especially grease-resistant boxes, wrappers, and bags used for burgers, pizza, and popcorn, is a major source of exposure to the toxics [sic] for people.

fast food in wrappersSimilar to BPA, PFASs wreak havoc within; PFAS exposure has been linked to many health problems, including cancer, immunotoxicity, weight gain, altered thyroid function, and reproductive and developmental toxicity.

“The general conclusion here,” says study co-author Kathryn Rodgers, “is the less contact your food has with food packaging, the lower your exposures to PFAS and other harmful chemicals.”

And those chemicals are always changing. For instance, while this study examined five of the most common “long-chain” PFAS in packaging, US manufacturers have been replacing these with other “shorter-chain” varieties that raise similar health concerns for humans. 

Bet you’re ready for the good news.

“We all know eating more fresh foods and more home-cooked meals is good for our health for many reasons,” says environmental chemist Laurel Schaider, who also worked on the study. Reducing chemical exposures is just one more. 

Eating at home gives you control, choice, value, and more – especially when you remember that “home-cooked” means you’re actually preparing the meals, not throwing a frozen, prefab meal into the microwave. 

But what about all those days and nights of coming up with enough variety to keep yourself excited about sharing meals with your family or loved ones? Believe it or not, this is the best part!

man cookingGoing down the rabbit hole of healthy and easy-to-prepare meals at home can be pretty darn enjoyable. Check out what’s on the internet. (Heck, you’re already here, after all!) Do a simple search for easy, healthy dishes, and you’ll surely find an appealing meal you probably already have the ingredients for. 

The Weston A. Price Foundation has some terrific recipes that align to a variety of dietary needs, and you may be surprised at how many foods are actually on their “good-for-you” list! Prefer to go meatless? Vegetarian foodie – and author of the classic Moosewood Cookbook – Mollie Katzen is also online with updated versions of some healthful and savory meat-free classics. 

Like your food prep quick and simple? Check out celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s series of recipes requiring only 5 ingredients. Many are available on video so you also have his chipper encouragement as well as a visual for when you’re trying something new. 

If you’re really not into researching recipes? Ask for help before calling for delivery. Join a foodie Facebook group and be honest about your lack of motivation. And try adding the word “lazy” when you search for whatever you’re hungry for. You might be surprised by the very manageable recipes you can find!

Then pat yourself on the back for putting together yet one more healthy, delicious, and chemical-free meal. You might even end up with a new weekly menu theme: Try Anything Thursday!

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