Cook Your Way to Better Health

DIY Dinners For Good Health And Family Bonding

Much time and wringing of hands is spent on the state of our collective health in North America. The stats on diabetes, heart disease and obesity are nothing less than tragic. And in real life terms, it has Moms feeling exhausted and weighed down. But sometimes the answer to a dilemma is so simple we don’t want to see it, right?

When it comes to eating better the only way to properly take control of your health is to do it yourself. Yep, I’m talking about cooking. Before you start yelling at me for adding another item to that already epic to-do list, here are five tips for making it happen.

Does the endlessness of feeding your family make you feel like Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the hill? Do what you can to lessen the drudgery and make your time in the kitchen as civilized as possible. Put on some tunes or a great podcast (I find NPR perfect for cooking). Pour yourself a glass of wine.

Get an arsenal. Non-cooks think meal making involves endlessly trying new things. Not so. All you really need are ten good recipes under your belt. We’re talking easy meals that you can make without thinking. You know, Chicken Curry, Vegetarian Chili, Homemade Pizza, Fajitas…. Think about what your family likes and build on that. Once you’re rolling with your arsenal it’s no big deal to throw in something new once a week or so.

Meal Planning. Is there anything less sexy? A floor length terry cloth bath robe perhaps – but only just. I fought it for years, myself. But if you’re serious about reducing your stress and making evenings less of a scramble, this is the answer. Even once you’ve developed an arsenal of recipes, you still need to decide which ones you’re making this week, and what you’ll need on hand to make it happen.

Get the family involved. It goes without saying the meal prep should be shared between you and your mate. But getting your kids involved is even more important. Firstly, kids are far more likely to try food they had a hand in preparing. Secondly, if you start some serious sous chef training early and often, you and your partner can eventually enjoy an appertif while the kids make dinner at least once a week. Life skills for them, a break for you!

Elbows off the table. No, not really. Who cares? But blackberries, iPhones, and other gadgets? Not at mealtimes, please. Of course what we eat at dinner is important but it’s not the only thing that makes mealtimes healthy (or not so healthy). The table should be a place to recount the hilarious or infuriating details of your day, coax some tidbits about schoolyard drama out of your kids, debate politics or tell a joke. In other words, be together.

Ceri Marsh is the co-founder of Sweet Potato Chronicles, a site dedicated to healthy family food. She is also the health editor for The Kit, a digital beauty and health magazine.