It might take a little more time and work each week, but cooking and eating at home is better for your body, according to new research. The study, conducted by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, found that individuals who made meals at home were less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who ate out more.

“There has been a trend towards increased dining out in many countries,” the researchers wrote. “Consuming food prepared out of the home has been linked to poor diet quality, weight gain, and diabetes risk.”

Indeed, eating out at restaurants — in addition to being slightly pricier — can mean you’ll consume far more calories and unhealthy ingredients without even realizing it. Studies have shown that eating out, particularly fast food, is linked to consuming more calories, fat, saturated fat, and sugar than eating at home. Plus, relying on delivery services like Seamless, late-night fast food dinners, and dubious take-out foods can contribute to your risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes.

The study examined 58,051 women and 41,676 men from two different prospective cohort studies, focusing on how often they ate midday or evening meals prepared at home. All of the participants were health professionals. The researchers also measured other eating habits and diabetes prevalence.

It turned out that people prepared 5-7 evening meals at home per week were 15 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who reported eating only two or less meals at home every week. Those who made lunch at home also saw a reduction in their diabetes risk, but it was statistically lower than the one for evening meals. It’s possible that people who ate at home consumed fewer calories in general, leading to less weight gain, which can act as a protective factor against diabetes risk.

“Our findings suggest that people who eat MPAH [meals prepared at home] more frequently have a lower long-term risk of developing T2D, and that this association is partially explained by less weight gain over time,” the researchers wrote. “Taken together with evidence from previous studies that focused on MPOH, these findings suggest that eating more MPAH instead of MPOH [meals prepared outside home] (especially fast foods) may help curb the risk of developing obesity and diabetes. From a public health perspective, actions are needed to encourage cooking meals at home and to improve diet quality of MPOH to facilitate diabetes prevention.”

Cooking dinners at home – or prepping your lunches at home – comes with plenty of benefits that go beyond preventing diabetes. In 2014, a study found that children had healthier eating habits when their parents spent more time cooking at home, suggesting that it could be a good antidote to the childhood obesity epidemic as well. Interestingly, spending time in the kitchen cooking can be a good way to wind down after a long day at work, and help you disconnect from work pressures and digital devices. Another study found that cooking or baking actually have therapeutic effects and may help treat depression.

Most simply, when you cook at home, you have more control over the ingredients, and you know what you’re putting in the food. The practice may help you feel calmer and more control of your eating habits, if you make some time for it.

Source: Zong G, Eisenberg D, Hu F, Sun Q. Consumption of Meals Prepared at Home and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: An Analysis of Two Prospective Cohort Studies. PLOS Medicine, 2016.