If you are a parent, or are planning to become one, you can't help but be concerned about the childhood obesity crisis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, childhood obesity has more doubled in the last three decades; for adolescents it has quadrupled. In real terms this means that over a third of children and adolescents are either overweight or obese. These are frightening statistics.
If you want to prevent your children from becoming obese or overweight, one effective way is to cook more meals at home.
Cooking to Lose Weight:
It might seem counter-productive to suggest that cooking more of the food that your children eat can help them to lose weight. After all, most weight loss plans are all about restricting food, right? Well, that's not always the case.
In order to fight childhood obesity, it helps to understand that it is often caused by kids eating too much processed 'fast' food (high in calories and low in nutrition) and not enough healthy food. Replacing most of the highly processed fast food that we feed our kids with nutritious, home-cooked meals and snacks, can go a long way towards helping children to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. It is often called 'junk' food after all.
The Healthy Food Movement:
In 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama started the "Let's Move" campaign to help children get in shape. The program includes exercising, but it also focuses on healthier foods in homes, as well as in schools. Her program is still going strong today. In fact, she recently spoke at a health summit, educating people about all of the benefits of home cooking.
The Immediate Benefits of Home Cooking
The immediate benefits of home cooking for your children can seem obvious when you think about them. The most significant one is that you can control what your children eat - you can choose fresh, nutrition-rich ingredients and limit the amount of unhealthy additives. The heavily processed foods that are prepared outside of the home are usually full of sugar, salt, unpronounceable additives, synthetic flavorings and unhealthy carbohydrates and fats.
As a parent, you'll also notice another immediate benefit of fighting childhood obesity with home cooking - you can save a lot of money! Meals at restaurants, and the pre-packaged meals you buy at the store, can be very expensive. And think about this - if a packaged meal can feed a family of four for just a few dollars - what will the quality of the ingredients be like? To keep prices low the quality of ingredients used has probably been compromised.
The Long-Term Benefits of Home Cooking:
There are also long-term benefits of home cooking for both you and your children. By cooking at home, especially if you involve the children, you will be teaching them healthy cooking and baking habits that they are likely to continue with throughout their childhood and into their adult years.
In fact, the University of Alberta conducted a study in which they found that kids who helped cook meals at home were 10% more likely to choose to eat vegetables than kids who didn't. And every little bit helps when it comes to kids eating their vegetables.
Finding the time to cook for children can be a challenge. With some sound knowledge, a bit of practice and the right tools you'll quickly be able to establish a healthy eating environment at home. And don't forget that it won't just be the kids who will benefit - you'll be improving your diet as well.