Wednesday, March 28, 2018

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Teaching Kids to Cook

"Cooking is all about people.  Food is maybe the only universal thing that really has the power to bring people together.  No matter what culture, everywhere around the world, people get together to eat."  
                                                                                                   --Guy Fieri

Restaurants don’t make healthy food and one-third of Americans don’t know how to cook.  No wonder so many Americans are unhealthy.

When our country was in a crisis during World War II, food was rationed. Americans were asked to start Victory Gardens so they would have their own sources for food.  

We could sure use some Victory Gardens now.  There is another food crisis caused by the explosion of unhealthy, processed, and convenience food and the overconsumption of sugar, salt, and bad fats. Kids are facing shorter lifespans than adults due to obesity, obesity-related diseases like diabetes, and poor health status at young ages. 

When parents don’t know how to cook or don’t make the time to prepare food at home, they cannot teach their children how to cook.  In my work as Wellness Architect for Growing Healthy Kids, I encounter thousands of children who don’t know how to make a simple vinaigrette dressing for a chopped green salad or how to make a basic tomato soup.  In my work assisting youth and young adults with disabilities on their paths towards employment, I encounter individuals who have no idea how to cook, who eat mainly highly processed, unhealthy foods, and who are overweight or obese because no one ever thought that teaching them how to cook simple, healthy recipes mattered. 

If kids don’t know how to cook, they will be slaves to the processed food industry and will be at increased risk for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and decreased life spans.  They will be forced to eat in restaurants and fast food places that don’t care if your blood sugar is under control or if your leg is amputated when you are twenty-five because you developed diabetes when you were fifteen. 

It does matter if kids know how to cook or not.  

All children deserve access to healthy foods.  All children need to know how to cook as a step towards their personal independence.  If kids don’t learn how to cook, how to identify healthy ingredients, then adults are failing by not giving them the tools they need to live independent lives. 

Shop.  Chop.  Cook.  Repeat.  
With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.