The number of Canadian children that are overweight or obese has been rising steadily over the past decades.
Most will not recover from the problem and instead grow heavier in adulthood. Current trends suggest that by the year 2040, 70% of the Canadian adult population will be overweight or obese, increasing their risk of heart disease, cancer, strokes, and type 2 diabetes.
How can cooking and eating together help your child?
Cooking is a basic life skill that, like swimming, might come in handy at an unexpected time. Without it, children also might be unaware of or hesitate to try alternatives to unhealthy processed foods.
Children are more likely to eat foods they help prepare. This leads to eating a larger variety of foods and better overall health.
Cooking together is an opportunity to teach other skills too, like math and reading.
Children have an opportunity to learn what a healthy meal and appropriate serving size looks like.
Meal preparation time can be a great chance to discuss the events of the day and give children an opportunity to ask questions about things that might be bothering them.
As children progress in their cooking knowledge, they gain confidence and self-esteem in a way that may not be available to them in the classroom.
Family recipes are a great way to pass on family traditions and culture. Get a grandparent involved too and everyone will benefit.
Eating together helps children feel secure and connected to other family members.
Shared meals allow parents to model appropriate behaviour like table manners, including the importance of turning off screens during meals and paying attention to fellow diners.
Mealtime conversation helps overeaters eat less and also encourages children to have larger vocabularies and better social skills.
Overall, children who regularly eat meals with their family are healthier and exhibit fewer behavioral issues.
They are also less prone to risky behaviours in adolescence. While it is easy to get caught up in daily tasks and feel there is no time for sit down meals, the effort you put in now can have large benefits in your child’s future.