A silver lining to the disruptions caused by the pandemic, is that some families are redefining their food thinking and routines – for the better!
Food in Canada reports more families are changing their eating habits, due to the pandemic, and cooking more at home. But more remarkable, is that all of this at-home cooking will likely make families healthier and boost mental well-being.
Cooking together as a family does much more than put food on the table. It offers a “time to talk, listen and build family relationships,” says Angela Ginn in ScienceDaily. When we cook with family, it can be a very rewarding experience and helps to increase feelings of connection.
Food is just one of the ways we care for ourselves and others, and when we cook together as a family, it can help kids develop better self-esteem, eating habits and self-care.
The Guelph Family Health Study is testing new ways for kids to learn healthy habits early and provides evidence-based tips, tools, and interviews with experts to help families develop healthy food routines.
Listen to this free podcast: Healthy Habits, Happy Homes
To add cooking together as a family to your food routine, here are three simple tips¹:
- Start slowly. If school nights are too hectic for cooking as a family, make it a leisurely weekend breakfast or lunch.
- Plan menus together. Try letting your kids choose a favourite food item and build simple, delicious meals around them together.
- Talk! "The conversations families have while eating together have a huge impact, as you share experiences and ideas, and pass along family values. Pick topics that are positive and allow everyone to talk” Ginn says.
It can be helpful to think of cooking as fun family time – a chance for you to get creative, messy and build a stronger connection with your kids.
Looking for more great resources, including how to cook videos and recipes? Visit the Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s food literacy program, Six by Sixteen.
As we monitor the COVID-19 situation, we will continue to provide you with plan information and resources. Visit www.otip.com/coronavirus to access frequently asked questions regarding your benefits plan and COVID-related changes. You can also check your benefits booklet for benefits plan terms and coverage details.
This article is part of the Caring for your mental well-being campaign. Visit otip.com/wellbeing for more information on the campaign and mental health resources.
Source:  Adapted from Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Family meals do more than put food on the table: Benefits of cooking, eating as a family." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 February 2014.