Teach Your Kids to Cook! It Makes Them Healthier…
Kids tend to be fairly picky when it comes to eating healthy. We’ve all struggled with getting our kids to eat more veggies, fruits, whole grains, and quality foods. Most kids would rather eat a piece of candy, a chocolate bar, chips, pretzels, or baked goods any day over healthy goods. Given the easy access to unhealthy foods, it’s no surprise that diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular health problems are so common today.
But one study  made a fascinating connection that you can use to help improve your kids’ eating habits—not just today, but for the rest of their lives!
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found that children that learn to cook as young adults tend to make healthier eating choices long into the future.
The researchers conducting the study collected data from the Project Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults longitudinal study, which was conducted at schools in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area. The scientists analyzed data as far back as 2002 and 2003, examining the kids’ cooking skills during their young adult years (18 to 23). They then collected data from 2015 and 2016, when the adults were in their 30s. The data examined things like:
How good they thought they were at cooking (perceived adequacy)
How often they prepared veggie-rich meals
How often they ate family meals together
How often they are fast food
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As the study discovered, adults that perceived their cooking skills to be adequate or above tended to be healthier down the line. Not only did they eat fast food less often, but they also prepared more veggie-rich meals, ate more frequent meals as a family, and encountered fewer “barriers” to food preparation.
Simply put: learning how to cook during the formative teenage and young adult years had a visible effect on their healthy eating as adults.
While this study looked at the effects of developing cooking skills on young adults, the benefits can extend to your younger teenagers and children as well.
Jennifer Utter, a PhD and MPH from the University of Auckland in New Zealand and lead author of the study, said, “Opportunities to develop cooking skills by adolescents may result in long-term benefits for nutritional well-being. Families, health and nutrition professionals, educators, community agencies, and funders can continue to invest in home economics and cooking education knowing that the benefits may not be fully realized until young adults develop more autonomy and live independently.”
That makes it pretty clear, doesn’t it? The skills your children and teenagers develop now may not affect their immediate eating habits as visibly, but they will become much more “fully realized” once they leave home and live on their own.
If you want to give your children a better chance at healthy eating, it’s worth spending time teaching them to cook. The time you spend with them in the kitchen can help to develop wonderful parent-child bonds, and they will gain more confidence in knowing they are learning useful life skills. It’s wonderful for the home environment and your relationship with them.
Then, of course, there’s always the benefit to their and your healthy eating. As you teach them to cook healthy meals—meals rich in veggies, with a good balance between macro and micronutrients—you’ll implant in their minds the value of eating right. When you sit down as a family to enjoy the meal you and your children prepared, it will continue to form those healthy eating habits.
There is no doubt that you’ll still end up struggling to get your child and teenager to eat healthy all the way until they’re adults. Kids tend to be pickier when it comes to food, and they will typically choose the unhealthy, better-tasting option even if the nutritional quality is low.
However, when your kids leave home and strike out on their own, they will know how to prepare healthy meals, and they will know what a healthy meal looks like. They’ll also be more confident because they are prepared to cook for themselves, and they’ll be able to make smart food choices. In the end, that will be the best way for them to be ready for life after they leave home.
Spend time in the kitchen teaching your child to cook, and the benefits to their health, independence, and confidence will be a hundred-fold! To help you in your journey, check out ZONIA video streaming platform with hundreds of cooking demonstration and kids-friendly recipes for the entire family by our renowned chefs and nutrition experts.
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