Dads in the kitchen

Fathers who promote cooking and eating at home can help to decrease negative health outcomes for their children.

With the changing social standards, it is important to embrace the value of fathers in the kitchen. Households are no longer run like they were in the 1960’s; fathers are not the only ones in the office and moms are not the only ones in the kitchen. In fact, from 1965 to 2008, the percentage of fathers who found themselves in the kitchen grew 42 percent and has only increased since. This change is for the better, as it has demonstrated to have a number of beneficial effects on their children’s nutrition, as well as their outlook on life.

Fathers can be role models for all their children

Almost all children, boy or girl, look up to their father as a role model. They want to be just like dad not only when they grow up, but in that moment too. We’ve all seen the pictures of fathers and their kid’s playing cards, wearing ties, and playing sports. This same mimicking can also be witnessed in snacking habits. In fact, “A 2011 Journal of the American Dietetic Association study found that kids are likely to mirror their father’s intake of many snack foods.” This can have a positive or negative effect on a child’s health. If they see their fathers snacking on fruits and veggies or making other nutritious snack choices, they are likely to do the same. On the other hand, if dad grabs chips and pop, you better believe that’s what the kids will want too.

Family meals are important  

According to the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, “fathers who ranked enjoying family meals together as important are less likely to have kids who favor fast food restaurants” (McIntosh et al. 2010). This can have a tremendous impact on a child’s health now and in the future. As we know from the hefty amount of research, fast food diets lead to obesity and chronic disease. Fathers who promote cooking and eating at home can help to decrease these negative outcomes for their children. Most importantly, when both Mom and Dad cook, the likelihood of eating a home-cooked meal doubles.

Single-fathers face unique challenges

Single-fathers face unique challenges and these challenges may impact the eating habits and the body weight of their children. Single fathers tend to have higher incomes than single mothers however the higher income does not translate to an increase in nutritious meals or higher quality food (Kramer et al. 2015). Studies indicate, single fathers buy fewer grains, fruit, and vegetables, and spend more on fast foods (Zoil-Guest 2009). Similar to single mothers, single fathers have limited amounts of time to prepare healthy meals, however, a few changes can have a significant impact on the well-being of their children.

Preparation is key

By prepping meals or snacks on the weekend, cutting up veggies, washing fruit, maybe even cooking meals to be reheated, a father can ensure nutritious snacks and meals are available for his family during the work week. Also, fathers who involve their children in the grocery shopping and cooking process not only help teach their kids about healthy eating but also help their kids to develop a broader view on gender roles. Embracing the expanding and integral role that fathers have in shaping the eating habits of children and involving fathers in meal preparation may prove to be one of the strongest strategies to reducing obesity among children. 

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