Making Children Healthy Through Meal Prep


While their children were free to gorge on either high-calorie or low-calorie food options, parents answered questionnaires regarding their child’s food preferences and eating habits, the family’s socioeconomic status, and how food plays into their environment at home. The children of parents who reported spending more time preparing food at home were more likely to choose meals with lower calorie count without their parent’s guidance compared to children whose parents did not devote their time to preparing food at home.

“Even after controlling for family income and whether or not children had a parent at home full time, we found that children whose parents spend more time cooking make better choices,” Shehan added. “Our food preferences develop early in life, so getting young children to eat nutritious foods can help them stay healthy in the long run.” According to the American Obesity Coalition, part of the problem with eating out while adhering to a healthy diet is that Americans expect to get their money’s worth at restaurants via large portion sizes.

Restaurants tend to serve two to three times more than healthy portion sizes that are recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. Chefs at major chain restaurants are also less concerned with calorie count and more interested in creating delicious food options that keep customers coming back.

Source: Shehen C, et al. Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior. 2014.

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