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Can Teaching Kids to Cook Make Them Healthier Later in Life?

By Civil Eats

New research suggests that learning how to cook as a young person lead to better eating practices—and better health—later in lifeRead full story

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  • To this point, nutrition education assessments have proven, with little controversy, that educating people about nutrition is effective in raising their nutrition knowledge in surveys and pre-/post-tests. Bravo. There is hardly any evidence that nutrition education can have long-term measurable impact on behavior change and nutrition status. Good there are some efforts in this area and some promising work.

  • Ian Myers
    Ian MyersFounder at Country House Enterprises

    Unequivocally, yes. Only by understanding what goes into a meal, can people really make informed choices about what to eat and what to avoid.

    It also gives children a good benchmark to compare prepared food against—i.e what it should have cooked at home vs. all of those mystery ingredients.

  • Jason Yap
    Jason YapEngineer at FORCAS, Inc.

    I wish I was taught cooking when I was young. Now, I just buy them instead of learning to cook. I’m trying to balance efficiency and healthy lifestyle.

  • Hannah Eagle
    Hannah EagleDPT (soon to be)

    Growing up I learned all of this from my mother and other women in my family. As young as 6 years old I was helping prepare meals from scratch, and by the time I was a teen, I could have cooked a meal on my own. Now at 20, with all of that experience paired with home economics, cooking, and nutritional classes under my belt, I feel confident that I have all the tools necessary to prepare for and cook a wide variety healthy meals, and to even teach others how. I realize that not many people are as

    Growing up I learned all of this from my mother and other women in my family. As young as 6 years old I was helping prepare meals from scratch, and by the time I was a teen, I could have cooked a meal on my own. Now at 20, with all of that experience paired with home economics, cooking, and nutritional classes under my belt, I feel confident that I have all the tools necessary to prepare for and cook a wide variety healthy meals, and to even teach others how. I realize that not many people are as lucky as I was, so I love to see the communities stepping in to fill that gap. With education and time, it is possible that learning these skills from our mothers will become the norm again as it was years ago.

  • Lily Holt
    Lily Holt

    100% yes. I didn't know this was debatable.

  • Jamie Miller
    Jamie Millerpacker at Aerotek

    adults need to model the behavior they want their children to follow.....

  • Tia Walsh
    Tia Walsh

    I believe that if I teach my son to cook from a young age he'll be less likely to just reach for fast food or processed foods because he will be able to make great meals and snack himself. habits are learned and those instilled from a young age are more lasting

  • Christina Passarella
    Christina Passarella Project Manager

    Programs like this are so important to health. The hospital system I work at hosts a weekly farmer's market that accepts SNAP and offers discounts, cooking demonstrations, and recipes for people in our most low-income area, where there is very little access to affordable, healthy food. Starting at a younger age would probably increase these benefits. However, as the article points out, access and education go hand in hand. It's also important to remember that many of these families also lack the time required to prepare fresh foods.

  • Lindsey  Avena
    Lindsey Avena

    “Teach them how to feed themselves well, the reasoning goes, and you’ll give them the tools to stay healthy into and throughout adulthood.”

    I really do believe it’s as simple as that. Yeah, teenagers and young adults may eat atrociously from time to time, but proper education could at least teach them how to moderate and learn how to stay healthy outside of treats here and there.

    I wish I would’ve learned the art of cooking when I was younger. Though I get better at it every time I cook, I find

    “Teach them how to feed themselves well, the reasoning goes, and you’ll give them the tools to stay healthy into and throughout adulthood.”

    I really do believe it’s as simple as that. Yeah, teenagers and young adults may eat atrociously from time to time, but proper education could at least teach them how to moderate and learn how to stay healthy outside of treats here and there.

    I wish I would’ve learned the art of cooking when I was younger. Though I get better at it every time I cook, I find cooking healthy meals can be complicated if I don’t know the recipes. We don’t eat meat at home either, so mastering meat substitutions has been quite interesting.

    As a kid, we went through a time where we didn’t have money. My dad was full blooded Italian, so he made a month’s supply of spaghetti and sauce and we ate it every day, with vegetables of course. But good lord, that taught me a few things...like how I can only make spaghetti if I prepare it differently (I’ve mixed zoodles and spaghetti, for example) and how I really don’t ever want to eat spaghetti consecutively like that ever again. Thus comes in the art of learning cheap, but healthy, recipes...

    Anyways, the answer is yes! Teach kids how to cook and educate them on real, nutritious food! 🗣🗣🗣

  • Michael Weston
    Michael WestonUtrzymac Wielka Ameryke

    And wealthier too!

  • Harry Simons
    Harry Simons

    yes it should be mandatory class

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