As a busy mom, it is often difficult and sometimes near impossible to find the time to eat with our families much less cook for them. The thing is though; we have to make the time. We have outsourced the job of feeding our children to the processed food manufacturers and the big food chains. Over 70% of the food on our supermarket shelves is processed which means that it has high levels of salt, sugar and fats. It may make the food last longer and taste better but it does not provide the nutrition our families need.
When my son started eating solid foods, I made the conscious decision that my entire family should eat better. For me, that means using fresh fruits and vegetables as much as possible. I also try as much as possible to use local and in-season fruits and vegetables. This way I not only provide health and nutritious meals for my family but I support our local farmers and contribute to the growth and development of our agricultural sector. Most importantly, it means making home-cooked meals. Even if it is just rice and beans, it is far better than processed food or fast food.
Cooking at home also means that you can get your family involved and truly make it a family activity. Little kids love to feel grown-up and helping in the kitchen makes them feel like they are part of the process. It also gives them a better appreciation of where food comes from and there is a better chance they will eat the food. Not to mention, it’s like arts and crafts for them and they love eating their art projects!
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity in children aged 6 to 11 years increased from 7% in 1980 to almost 18% in 2012 and obesity in adolescents aged 12 to 19 years rose from 5% to 21% over the same period. As a parent, these are alarming statistics and we should be concerned about the health of our children. Obesity is linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease to name a few. This is not only a terrible fate for our children but it puts a huge strain on our society, economy and health care system.
Our lack of physical activity and our unhealthy eating habits have contributed greatly to this rise in obesity rates in our children. Simply eating one home cooked meal a day with our kids can make a huge difference in their overall development and in the family relationship.
Research has shown that kids who eat family meals:
- get better grades
- develop better communication skills
- are less likely to try drugs
- are less likely to be obese
The research also shows that women who cook regularly eat a more nutritious diet than those who eat out or buy out.
I’m not saying that we need to cook every meal at home and cut out all the sugars, fats and salt in our diet but we should pay more attention to what we eat and what we give our children to eat.
Here are a few tips for taking control over your food intake:
- Try to buy more fresh fruits and vegetables and less packaged food
- Take your kids shopping for the fruits and vegetables
- Check the ingredients on your package food; more ingredients means more processing which means less nutrients
- Try to eat at least 2-3 meals a week as a family
- Most of all have fun!
It’s time to take out our pots and pans again and take control over our food!
Let’s start cooking!