When I was a kid one of my chores was to go to the bakery to get fresh bread for dinner. Every afternoon my mom would give me the bag designated for bread and a few coins and there I went happily thinking of rainbows and butterflies along the two blocks that separated our home from the bakery. I know that my mother would go to the local farmers market at least once a week and also take short trips to the store for groceries, and to the butcher shop for meats. We would have never dreamt of buying a whole week’s supply of food. Food had to be fresh.
A lot has changed since those easy days. The food industry has revolutionized the way we approach food and fortunately daily trips to the market for fresh ingredients aren’t necessary any more. Otherwise, I don’t know how families could cope with the daily demands of our fast pace life. However, everything has a price and the price of convenience is obesity.
Food chemists spend long hours in their labs to develop the different foods we eat. They strive to get the right color, the perfect flavor and the most appealing texture for the product in question. The meal that comes out of the box is going to tickle our senses and delight our palate and we are certainly going to try repeating the experience. The food industry is counting on it.
Processed foods are unhealthy and they are one of the main causes of obesity. Here is why: they are low in nutrients and filled with artificial ingredients to prolong their shelf life. They are also high in sodium and sugars. And perhaps the worst part in the equation is that they are very hard to resist. Children get use to the salty flavors and the creamy textures and then refuse to eat homemade meals.
Here are some tips to let go of convenience:
- Mix convenient items with fresh ones: too much change could sabotage your success. We instinctively rebel against drastic changes.
- Watch at least one cooking show per week. Expand your repertoire of favorite dishes. Variety is the secret ingredient in fun meals.
- Make extra food and freeze it for another meal. Create your convenience in your own kitchen. No chemical preservatives!
- Swap recipes and leftovers with good friends. Share in the fun with friends. Learn from diversity. Experiment with new tastes and flavors that might be foreign to your family.
Our responsibility as parents is to know what we are feeding our children, to teach them simple rules that will help them make better choices when they select their own food, and to empower our families to protect and care for our environment.
The price of convenience is obesity. Accept a healthier future for your family by choosing fresh foods.