“What’s for dinner?” A question I hear multiple times a day in my house. The answer is more important than you think.
The benefits of home cooking are clear—those who cook dinner frequently at home have an intake of nearly 150 fewer calories each day than those who eat out regularly. What’s more, people who typically cook dinner consume fewer calories on the occasions they do eat out than those who do not. The health benefits are crucial to our families’ well-being, but cooking and enjoying a meal at home together benefits more than just our health, especially for our kiddos. Children who participate in family mealtime can be 12% less likely to be overweight and more likely to eat healthy foods, succeed academically, and have improved mental health. So why not make it part of your routine?
I am passionate about preparing healthy meals for my family and enjoying them together; it feeds our bodies and souls. I am so passionate about it that I have built my life and work around helping others to do the same. Common Threads is a preventative healthcare solution that works to reverse generations of non-cookers by empowering children to make healthy choices and bringing families back to the table and by partnering with programs like Together Counts™.
Our program offerings include a Family Cooking Class that equips families with the skills to bring cooking and family mealtime back into their homes. Our lessons educate families on key nutrition components, healthy ingredient substitutions, cooking techniques, convenient and cost-saving cooking methods and recipes, meal planning, and more. The class also includes a field trip to a local grocery store to introduce families to meal planning and budgeting. Overall, the course is designed to incorporate healthier food and practices – seamlessly fitting into daily routines and diet.
One transformational story of a father-son duo that went through our Family Cooking Class comes to mind. Following the class, the dad told us he was now aware that his sons “were willing to be more involved in preparing their own meals and that they were getting bigger and more responsible.” The class also provided them an opportunity to bond and allowed him to give his kids a little more independence when it came to preparing their own breakfasts and lunches. He thanked Common Threads for the opportunity to learn and grow with his kids and looks forward to doing the same with his sons’ future families. Generations will benefit from that and that is why we do what we do.
Balancing energy-in with energy-out is a key component to a healthy lifestyle and Common Threads’ mission is focused on the energy-in side of the equation. What we put into our bodies matters, and teaching our children the skills and knowledge to make healthy choices will grow healthy families and individuals. This certainly does not mean that you should never eat out or have an occasional treat. Eating out can be a fun family event or celebration.
Decide on a healthy meal, prepare it together, and sit down around the table to enjoy the food, each other’s company, and conversation. You will see the benefits in your health, your relationships, and who knows where else!
This blog post was written by Linda Novick O’Keefe, the Founding Chief Executive Officer of Common Threads. Common Threads, with programs in more than 500 schools and community partner site nationwide, was created to address the childhood obesity epidemic by educating children on the importance of nutrition and physical wellbeing, and empowering them to be agents of change for healthier families, schools, and communities. By providing children with a toolkit of knowledge and skills, Common Threads’ curriculum helps prevent childhood obesity and reverse the trend of generations of non-cookers, getting America’s kids cooking for life.
For more energy in tips, take a look at these other posts from Together Counts.