It's a well-cited rule that when you're trying to eat healthy, you should forgo prepackaged foods (that are often high in fat, salt, and sugar) in favor of preparing your own homecooked meals. But eating food you've cooked yourself can make you enjoy the actual food more too, according to a new study published in the journal Health Psychology. (Guess that explains why we're always our own biggest fans in the kitchen...)
To test whether making food ourselves can actually increase how much we like healthy and unhealthy foods, the researchers had 120 women taste a 'healthy' low-calorie raspberry milkshake and an 'unhealthy' high-calorie chocolate milkshake that they either prepared themselves or had been made by someone else. (Watch out for these "Healthy" Ingredients That Turn Your Smoothies Into Junk Food.)
The results? The women were more likely to report that the healthy milkshake tasted better if they were the one to make it. (Interestingly, when it came to the unhealthy milkshake, who did the preparing had no effect on how the women thought it tasted.) The researchers write that the findings "suggest that self-preparation increases the health salience of foods, because when people prepare foods, they become more aware of the ingredients that constitute a food."
And yes, our ego probably comes into play too—the study authors say their findings support prior research that people tend to give higher value to self-created objects. Still, they conclude that these findings prove more effort should be made to encourage people to eat less prepared foods and more self-prepared foods, especially in schools and workplaces. We second that!