As a nation, Britain is constantly on the move. Many of us are juggling busy professional roles with families, social lives or other commitments, and end up with very little time to dedicate to ourselves - or to the food we eat.
In fact, new research from the Potatoes: More Than A Bit on the Side campaign has revealed that one in four (26%*) UK adults have actually lied to their friends, family, partners and colleagues about what they've had for their dinner the night before because they are too embarrassed to admit their food choices.
But how else does modern life impact our diets and affect our culinary habits? Here are five of the nation's top cookery confessionals, and how we can help positively combat them.
1. Lying about food choices
Ever felt your face redden because your colleague at work has just shown you an Instagram of last night's super healthy meal, and you know you opted for a convenience meal? Well, you're not alone. In fact, a quarter of people (26%) have lied to their loved ones about their food choices because they're too embarrassed to admit what they've had. But don't think 'why bother?' and stick with your own dietary choices letting food envy get the better of you. Instead, why not use this as inspiration to create your own healthy meals that you can be proud to tell your peers about? If they can do it, so can you.
2. Cutting corners
Shortcuts in cooking are a great thing, but let's make sure they are the right ones. One in five (22%) Brits buy ready-to-cook meals that can contain processed ingredients not found in your kitchen, or use tinned or jar or packet sauces (21%) instead of making their own, while one in ten (11%) only cook from scratch only once a week. The thought of cooking from scratch can be off putting for some people as they often think it will take too long and means buying and using expensive, difficult to prepare and unfamiliar ingredients. However, it can be very simple and straightforward to use produce that we all know and can purchase easily, like potatoes, tinned chickpeas, tinned tomatoes, and frozen vegetables - that can be a quick, easy and versatile starting point for many meals.
3. Lack of knowledge and confidence
A key reason for why many people choose not to scratch cook as much as they would like to, let alone cook for others, is lack of knowledge about cooking. In fact, a quarter of people (26%) only have between 2 - 4 dishes that they know how to cook well, with women in particular (31%) always cooking the same handful of recipes for dinner, over and over again. A lack of knowledge inevitably leads to less confidence in the kitchen - but this can be remedied. Often, a good cookbook or recipe website can help by providing a fantastic choice of quick and healthy recipes that can be easily followed, even by someone with little or no cooking experience. It's really important that we eat a balanced diet, particularly if we lead busy lives, to help give our bodies the nourishment they need.
4. Busy schedules dictating food choices
We've all been there after a hard day at work, tempted by the array of convenience options on our commutes home and feeling like we don't have the energy to cook. However, these impulsive feelings can have adverse effects on our diets with of many of us opting for less healthy options as a result. For example, a fifth of us (22%) will pick up a takeaway like a kebab on our way home from work if we've had a busy day, 28 per cent of us will choose a microwaveable ready meal, and nearly a quarter of us (24%) will simply comfort eat in place of a proper meal. While it's fine to indulge once in a while, making this a regular habit is not a good idea. It's vital that we plan ahead to ensure we're getting the right nutrients we need. Batch cooking healthy meals such as curries or chillies packed with vegetables and freezing portions to reheat can be a great way to overcome the urge to reach out for a convenience meal after a long day -helping you to feel more energised and less sluggish because you won't be consuming all the additional salt, fat and sugar often hidden in fast food.
5. Misunderstandings about the cost of healthy eating
One in six women (17%) say that they don't eat enough healthy, balanced meals because they can't afford to - but there are ways to eat well without breaking the bank. People should aim to cook with and eat a variety of foods from all the main food groups in appropriate amounts (plenty of veg and fruit, potatoes with skins, wholegrain bread, brown rice, wholegrain pasta and other wholegrains, beans, lentils and other plant sources of protein like nuts and seeds, fish including oily fish, eggs, some lean meat, some milk and dairy foods or non-dairy equivalents, herbs and spices). It doesn't have to be complicated - choose the best quality you can afford and let the ingredients do the work to serve up healthy, quick, balanced and tasty dishes. Potatoes are a good option as a cheap, naturally fat-free, nutritious, versatile and tasty ingredient which is simple and quick to cook within a range of exciting, inexpensive meals.
*Statistics taken from Potatoes: More Than A Bit On The Side campaign research conducted by Censuswide from 3 June 2016 - 13 June 2016. 2,425 respondents were surveyed from the UK (2,025) and Republic of Ireland (400).
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