It’s Time To Get Healthy Folks!
Recently, my roommate’s daughter came over to visit for the weekend. Though I want to have children of my own some time in the future, I’ve held off from having any. As a result, I haven’t spent much of my adult life around kids. Hence, it was a very interesting experience to be around a young child for an extended period of time. I feel like the three days we all spent together really gave me some new perspectives on what it’s like to be a young, fresh-faced little human who’s still learning new things.
While she was visiting, I decided to make dinner for the three of us. Being that she’s 5 years old, she’s at a very talkative and curious age. It quickly became apparent that she was interested in what I was up to. Since the activity I was doing directly related to when she would be able to eat, her interest piqued.
I decided it would be a lot of fun to include her in dinner prep and to let her help make the nutritious homemade meal she would soon be enjoying. Allowing her to help out really opened my eyes and got me to thinking about the importance of developing cooking and healthy eating skills at a young age.
A Bit About Myself
Due to a very poor understanding of nutrition, some terrible eating habits which developed from a very early age, and a serious case of body dysmorphia, I had ballooned up to 355 pounds by the time I was 26 years old. Oh and just to give you an idea of how big I had gotten, I was wearing size 56 pants that looked horrible and didn’t fit well because I’m only 5’6″ tall. Not cool folks… Not cool.
Constant dieting since the age of 7 and countless failed attempts had shattered my self esteem and I had pretty much given up hope of getting a handle on my health at this point. I won’t get too deep into the terrible physical pain and mental issues that my years of unhealthy eating caused, but I can say one thing for sure… I’d do anything in my power to prevent my future children from suffering through these experiences. Had I fully understood the wisdom behind the phrase “you are what you eat”, I would have chosen to be a fresh fruit and nut smoothie instead of a sugar-coated deep-fried quadruple bacon cheeseburger with extra BBQ sauce.
You Want What’s Best For Your Child
Any mildly-sane parent wants the very best for their children. Not surprisingly, they’ll do everything in their power to provide for their kids. Everyone wants to raise a happy, healthy family, yet so many children in the United States end up with obesity-related issues. Frequently, these diseases and disorders start from an early age and simply get worse over time. Our nation is filled with sad, sick, unhealthy people – some who can barely stand and some who can barely stand to look at themselves in the mirror. But why?
The easy answer is that the average family eats terribly unhealthy food that lacks nutrition. Additionally, their lack of understanding about how to prepare their own meals is often abysmal at best. Far too many people have no idea how to prepare food for themselves.
As a result, the only option they have is to go out to eat or to buy heavily-processed, prepackaged junk foods that lack the vitamins and minerals necessary to maintain a healthy body and mind. Much like learning a foreign language, healthy cooking and eating is a skill that becomes harder to learn and commit to with age. It’s in everyone’s best interests to start your children out on the right path as soon as possible.
Luckily, I was finally able to take control of my health and eating habits before my 30th birthday, and now, 1 year later, I have made a complete lifestyle shift. I finally learned how to cook and enjoy healthy meals. Most importantly, I learned how to be satisfied eating fresh, all-natural foods without added sugars, salt, and unhealthy fats.
However, I still struggle sometimes and I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’s an issue which will always be with me. Much like a hopeless alcoholic who finally learns to put down the bottle, the weakness and desire to feed my obsession remain. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I may always have the longing to eat poorly and will likely have a inclination to engage in these unhealthy activities forever.
Basically the point I’m trying to get across is that it’s of the utmost importance that you teach your children how to have a safe, healthy relationship with food from an early age so you don’t spend years watching them suffer like I had to. If you don’t currently cook and you don’t know what you’re feeding your family, it’s time to educate yourself. It’s up to you as the adult to show them the way and to drop some knowledge on them. Trust me… they’ll thank you for it later.
So now that we’ve got that out of the way (and you’ve had the brief pleasure of peering into the spaghetti bowl that is my mind), we can get back to business!
Before We Get Into It
First thing’s first… cooking healthy meals at home is NOT EXPENSIVE! It’s a myth so get it out of your head and just commit to doing it. Going out to eat with a family constantly can break the bank, and you’d be surprised how big of a rip-off precooked, prepackaged meals can be when compared to freshly-prepared, home-cooked alternatives.
Cooking at home can save your household a ton of money and puts you in complete control of your family’s health and well-being. Second, it’s not that hard to do. All good things take time, and while some people may feel like time is not one of the luxuries they can afford, it’s a lot better than eating expensive meals on the run that cause you to develop serious medical conditions in the future. After all, going to the doctor constantly can be expensive too. Better to start practicing prevention now than the alternative of trying to fix serious problems later on.
You may need to rearrange you schedules and routines a bit to fit in cooking time but it’s always worth it in the long run and it really doesn’t take that long to prepare healthy meals and snacks. If you simply can’t schedule cooking time every day, make large meals and package them up for later so your family always has healthy foods on hand without all the prep work involved.
OK! I think that’s about it for that, so no more excuses!
We Need To Teach Kids To Cook
Kids love to show that they are knowledgeable and self-sufficient! Nurture their creativity and build confidence by giving them the ability to cook healthy, flavorful meals for themselves and their family. Cooking establishes a sense of ownership and pride in their creation. No longer will their meal be viewed as some abstract plate of weird textures and questionable flavors the big people dumped in front of them. Now it’s a fun, delicious art project and THEY DID IT! Kids are much more likely to explore new foods and to eat something they helped make.
Cooking together provides parents with a natural avenue to discuss nutrition and the impact that food has on our bodies and our health. You can also be confident that when your children have the chance to make their own decisions (while at school, daycare, or a friend’s house) that they’ll make sensible, nutritious choices.
And it gets better! The earlier children are introduced to healthy, nutritious whole foods, the more likely their palate is to mature at a young age. As a result, they’ll be less likely to develop a taste for processed foods. This is pretty much a fast-track to a life of health and happiness as an adult, and it’s not hard to see why!
Teach Kids To Cook for the Health Benefits
If your child doesn’t have to worry about obesity and other health-related problems, it’s (quite literally) a huge weight off their shoulders. In addition, having a serious skill that’s been practiced for years translates to serious talent by the time your child reaches adulthood. Seriously… who doesn’t love an amazing chef?
Just think… soon your toddler could be sending jet-fueled spoons of food toward your mouth! It’s about as cool as it gets! Your child will be learning a new life skill that he or she can develop into a serious talent/passion. Best of all, you’re starting them down a path of healthy eating and nutritional understanding.
Cooking – An Excuse To Teach & Learn
Cooking a meal from scratch (especially dinner) can take time and this can have many positive repercussions as well! Quite often, kids get antsy and lose interest in projects. However, if you make your cooking time something fun and new and really try to involve them, they’ll learn to build patience and focus. All the while, they’re learning about plants, animals, health, and food in general. But that’s not all!
Cooking time can be an experience filled with all sorts of other skill-building activities. A clever, resourceful parent can help their children develop early math, science, reading, and problem solving skills in the kitchen. Depending on the types of food you choose to prepare, you can offer exposure to other cultures and languages as well. That’s right! Cooking can be an amazing experience! Most importantly, it doesn’t have to be a stressful one that evokes fear and dread.
Just think of the pastabilities! Practice math skills by having your children count out certain ingredients and by using measuring devices. Kids can learn science by understanding how temperature plays a role in certain dishes. You can display how oil and water separate when making a salad dressing. They can learn and improve upon their reading skills by perusing cookbook recipes. They can even learn about ingredient lists and nutritional facts.
Young children can work on learning their colors with fruits and veggies! They’ll begin to develop problem solving skills when they are faced with the task of how to integrate new ingredients into their dishes and how to improve taste and flavor to their liking. Cooking also offers kids the opportunity to learn new words, expand their vocabulary, and improve their communication skills!
Cooking Time Is Bonding Time
You spent a long time dreaming about starting a family of your very own. Take your dreams by the reigns and make the time you all spend together a beautiful and memorable experience! You have the power. Teach kids to cook!
Sometimes it can be hard to find the time for families to sit down together and interact as one. Don’t pass up the opportunity so you can all sit on the couch watching a sub-par reality show about some hipster’s barbershop in LA! Real bonding time is a vital part of a healthy family life. It’s nothing to be set on the back burner. After all, that’s where the teapot belongs… not your family.
Spending time cooking and creating is an incredible way to spend family time. It really does help solidify and strengthen family bonds when you’re all doing an activity together. Start a tradition! Practice the lost art of creating secret family recipes that can be passed down to their children and grandchildren in the future. Additionally, spend time trying to make recipes that may have been passed down to you.
Don’t know how to cook? Not sure where to start? Do your greatest culinary creations involve Hot Pockets and Top Ramen? No problem. Take a trip to your local library and pick out a few cookbooks together. BAM! More bonding time! While you’re there, you may want to sign your child up for their first library card as well.
Do You Get It Yet?
So at this point in the article, I hope you’ve gotten the gist of my message… that I’d make an absolutely fantastic father! And here’s the kicker… I’m single! Seriously! No kidding!!
Truthfully though, I can’t express how important it is for children to develop a healthy relationship with food from a very young age. That starts with you! Likewise, it begins when you decide to educate yourself on the topics of health, nutrition, and cooking in general.
This may be one of the most important things you ever teach your children and that’s no joke. Don’t rely on public or private schools to teach this stuff to your kids. They wont! While nutrition and health classes are part of the education system, they aren’t really taught until much later in life. Unfortunately, they seem to skip a lot of the most vital information for some reason.
Way too many people in our country grow up without any understanding of how important food is to their health. Consequently, many of these people have no idea how to cook for themselves. Ultimately our education system seems to think health just isn’t that important. By the time your kids have the opportunity to find this stuff out, they may have already developed some extremely bad habits that may take a lifetime to break.
Are You Ready To Teach Your Kids To Cook?
Don’t let that happen to them or to yourself. Now is the time and it’s never been easier to do! Learn, grow, and share these skills together. When it’s all said and done, you’ll all be better, stronger, smarter, more independent people. What more could a loving parent ask for?
If you’re interested in learning how you can teach kids to cook or food in general, you may find Kids Health to be a valuable resource. Further information for parents can be obtained from Choose My Plate; a government run health site.
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