Daily Nutrition & Well-being
Cooking with the Family: Healthy Eating Starts in the Kitchen
Susan Bowerman, M.S., R.D., CSSD, CSOWM, FAND – Sr. Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training 19 October 2023
Inspire the family and give them a life skill that they will take with them wherever they go.
Cooking is creative, messy and fun. On top of that, your culinary efforts are rewarded with something that’s (hopefully) delicious to eat! Cooking together with the family or our loved ones can have a positive and lasting influence on us. From making memories and building stronger bonds, cooking can help the whole family to develop an appreciation for healthy, home-cooked foods and cultivate life-long eating habits that will be better for their health as they grow up.
The significance of this shouldn’t be overlooked. In the last few decades, global obesity and overweight rates among children have risen dramatically. This is partly down to a diet that contains nutrient-poor foods, high calorie foods/snacks and an insufficient amount of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and calcium-rich (dairy) products.
Meals that are eaten outside of the home tend to be higher in calories, saturated fat and provide less micronutrients like calcium and fibre than homemade meals. On the other hand, eating more meals at home is associated with a higher intake of fruits, vegetables and dairy products with less fat and calories.
Grab the family: it’s time to make home-cooked meals a new tradition!
The Benefits of Home-Cooked Meals
- Cooking at home and eating together helps the family to develop an appreciation for healthy food. Parents are role models with their food choices, which influences the family to develop a similar appreciation for healthy foods. A comfortable and supportive environment of home-cooked meals can help to reinforce these healthy behaviours.
- Everyone loves to eat food that they’ve prepared. When the family are involved in choosing ingredients and preparing meals, they’re more likely to try their creations.
- The family are more likely to try new foods. Even if they decide that they don’t like what they have made, the cooking experience will help to develop an open and curious mind towards new foods.
- The family feel a sense of empowerment, achievement and independence when they cook. They love to tell people: “I did it all by myself!” or “I helped to stir the sauce!” When they’re able to prepare something on their own (no matter how simple) and serve it to the family, it instils a sense of pride and builds confidence. Help them by sharing age-appropriate recipes that they can make.
- Cooking is a brilliant way to spend more time together. The family don’t need much coaxing to join you in the kitchen. Use this time to enjoy each other’s company and talk about how delicious – and good – their meal is going to be.
Eating home-cooked meals has more benefits than we realise. It can save you money, create more family time, help you to relax and give you better control of your calorie intake.