Plenty of research supports a simple clean-foods truth: Eating at home is a powerful and affordable way to serve yourself and your family the clean foods that feed a strong, healthy metabolism. “Eating in” lets you sidestep the processed and additive-packed stuff that messes up your metabolism, too.

No worries: You can also eat clean away from home when it’s necessary. Whether you’re on vacation or out for a special dinner, or you simply must grab something fast on a busy day, it’s easier than ever to find cleaner foods on menus. However, many studies have shown that homemade meals automatically help you eat cleaner, making it easier to achieve a healthier weight and a healthier body.

  • Homemade meals help you control kilojoules without counting.
    In a recent study of more than 18,000 people, researchers reported that when dining out, people ate 800 more kilojoules per meal than they did at home. They also took in more saturated fat and sodium—both shown in other studies to torpedo your metabolism and promote weight gain. The shocker: Restaurant meals had almost as much fat and even more sodium than fast-food meals. 
  • You eat more metabolism-boosting clean foods at home.
    People who make food at home eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains than those who rely on processed, packaged or away-from-home meals, according to a recent study. Lack of time was the main reason people in this study didn’t make meals at home more often, but it’s actually easy to put together a clean-foods meal in a matter of minutes.
  • You stay automatically slimmer when you eat at home.
    In one revealing study that tracked the eating habits and health of 3,031 people for 15 years, those who had fast food two or more times per week gained 4.5kgs more than those who rarely ate this way. In another study from the same university, women who went out for fast food one extra time per week during a 3-year study gained an extra 700g.

But When You Do Eat Out...
When you’re eating out, sit at a high table close to a window—doing both can help you eat less and eat healthier, according to research done by Brian Wansink, PhD, director of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab. In Wansink’s experiments, people sitting by windows or at high tables ordered healthier food and tended to skip dessert and alcohol compared to people sitting in dimly lit booths.

Why? Being more visible and sitting in a more upright, alert position may make you more tuned in to your hunger and food choices, making you less likely to indulge in something you know you should probably skip.