We’re all familiar with junk foods and asparents are constantly bombarded with information on just how unhealthy it is for kids’ whose diets consist mostly of junk and fast foods. However, the days of full time Mums staying at home, spending their afternoons cooking healthy recipes from with fresh ingredients ready for the family evening meal are long gone. Nowadays, it can be really difficult for busy parents to ensure that every tea time meal is chock full of nutrition – the vitamins and minerals we all need to ensure a healthy diet. The temptation to microwave ready meals is too great in this 21st Century.
When we do manage to make the effort to cook a gourmet meal that we’ve found in a favourite recipe book or on one of the online foodie/recipe websites, chances are that the kids will turn their noses up in disgust, preferring chicken nuggets with smiley faces. Part of the reason for this is that today’s kids are inundated with adverts wherever they look – adverts for some of the unhealthiest and least nutritious foods imaginable. With TV and the internet constantly promoting energy-dense but nutrient poor foods to young people, it’s no wonder that we have an increasingly serious obesity crisis in the UK. The negative impact of advertising is an omnipresent issue in today’s society and we, as parents, need to understand the effect it has on our kids and their lifestyles.
Facebook is a huge part of daily life for many people, both kids and adults alike – it has more than 4 million members and is a rich environment for advertisers to target specific groups, especially children. The site has used information provided by users (including Timeline posts, status updates, age, gender, even where they live) in order to allow paying advertisers to target a particular audience with their brands and products.
As parents there are certain measures we can take to try to limit our children’s exposure to junk food advertising, but it’s a bit like fighting a losing battle. It makes more sense to make as much effort as we can to develop a healthy nutritional regime within the home and teach the kids about healthy eating as we do so. To begin with, this means making the effort to cut out ready meals and take aways whenever possible and cooking healthy meals for the family to enjoy.
One way of saving time is to cook our own ‘convenience’ foods that will still provide all the nutrition needed by growing kids. For instance – if you’re cooking a dish that’s served with rice, why not cook three times as much rice as you need and freeze the extra? This means that you will already have two lots of rice that can be defrosted and reheated next time you want to serve a dish with rice.
Soup is always better when it’s homemade (and always tastes better the next day). Cook up a large pan of soup and freeze or refrigerate half of it ready for later in the week. Served with crusty wholegrain bread, soup is packed with nutritional punch.
If you’re treating the family to a new home-made curry recipe (or Bolognese sauce with pasta for that matter), cook three times as much as you need, again freezing the leftovers for another occasion.
By cooking in large batches in this way, it’s possible to always have nutritious home-cooked meals available for your family which will go a long way to improving health, promoting good eating habits in the kids and saving time slaving over a hot cooker.