Parenting in the kitchen

Educating children in the kitchen and inspiring a healthy lifestyle through better food choices.

Mom cooking with daughters

There are 2 main reasons I have started writing this blog.

The first is:

The kitchen is an amazing classroom that offers kids a well rounded education in an environment that is conducive to learning – interactive, tactile, sensory and most of all FUN!

What do I mean by well rounded?

Kids can learn measurements, maths, reading, how to follow instructions, experimenting, science, dexterity, vocabulary, creativity, hygiene and cleanliness. Most important of all, kids can learn about real food and how to prepare and cook healthy, homemade meals. Kids are more likely to eat what they have helped prepare and as they get older they can even take over some of the daily cooking or preparation which means less for the parents to do – excellent!

Wow, that is a lot. Can kids really learn all this in the kitchen?

Yes, they can. They will also enjoy every minute of it too, spending time together with you!

Please note though, I am not suggesting you whip your children out of school and replace their current education with cooking lessons in your kitchen so that you don’t have to cook dinner anymore. I do mean this as a supplementary and supportive education to your child’s current one, and I need to stress the spending time together part again!

The second is:

We literally are what we eat. However, it doesn’t end there. We are not only what we eat, but we are also what we eat, eats. We are also what our parents ate too. Yes it took me a while to get my head around that one and yes, from this perspective we do pay for the sins of our fathers (and mothers.) The good news is we can change what we are by changing what we eat.

In order to explain the above I will do so from a biological perspective.

Living a lifestyle that does not align with your body's biological design can result in an imbalance in your body's internal ecosystem. This imbalance results in physical and mental health issues which are termed as lifestyle diseases. They can include Alzheimer's disease, Arthritis, atherosclerosis, asthma, some kinds of cancer, chronic liver disease or cirrhosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, chronic renal failure, osteoporosis, stroke, depression, obesity and in cases dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches.1  

A great book that explains this concept,  "the power of living according to our genes in the areas of diet, exercise, sleep, nature, mindfulness and more" is Go Wild by Dr John Ratey and Richard Manning. 2

The body's internal ecosystem is made up of our own body cells and microbes. This internal ecosystem is referred to as the human microbiome. The microbes outnumber human cells 10 to 1. 3 They have a symbiotic relationship with our own body cells and therefore play a vital role in our health.

Our body cells have genes and the microbes in our microbiome have genes. Our lifestyle directly effects the expressions of both our own body cell genes and the genes of our resident microbes.

Dr Chris Meletis in a recent interview in the Healthy Gut Summit explains:

"Genetics loads the gun. Diet and lifestyle pull the trigger. So you may be predisposed to all kinds of potential problems. But it's your epigenetics or the genetic expression of your chromosomes, depending on how much stress, how much sleep, what’s the quality of your sleep, the quality of food, the quality of your digestion, all play a role into, ultimately, how happy your cells are."

And how happy your microbes are too.

Neurosurgeons, heart specialists and psychologists4 worldwide are now looking at their patient’s diet and lifestyle and focusing on aligning the patient’s lifestyle with their biochemistry in order to treat the cause of the patient’s health issues and not just the symptoms. The term for this holistic healthcare approach is functional medicine. Functional medicine is a "patient-centered approach" that "addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms." 5

My understanding from reading books and listening to talks by these functional medicine practitioners is that they are looking at restoring a healthy gut (along with getting their patients to exercise adequately) as a first point of call for treatment.

According to Dr Tom O' Bryan, "Gut dysfunction is the number 1 problem in our culture today."

Judging from the alarming stats on the increase in lifestyle diseases (read Detox your home for some of these stats) a growing body of research is indicating there is an imbalance in the biochemistry of the microbiomes in a large number of the human population. Whilst it is not just diet that is influencing this imbalance, it is certainly one of the major causes being linked to it.

 “Because of the increasing rates of obesity, unhealthy eating habits and physical inactivity, we may see the first generation that will be less healthy and have a shorter life expectancy than their parents."
- Surgeon General Richard Carmona6

Due to the extremely complex nature of human microbiomes, there is no 1 size fits all diet.  Food and supplements that may be toxic to 1 person in the current stage of their life and health may not be to another. However, we can learn which food is nutrient dense and which food has empty calories or is toxic for everyone. Armed with this knowledge we can then make better food choices.

Every parent who spends money on food has an influence on which food stays in the market and which food does not. If you are not already conscious of what is in the food you are buying and where it comes from then I hope that you will make finding out a priority for 2015. As a consumer you have the right to know exactly what it is you are consuming and how it can affect the health of you and your family. You can then make an informed choice as to which food products you wish to support.

By reading, consulting with the right experts, thinking critically and discussing what we have learnt with others, we can empower ourselves, our children and our communities with knowledge that will in turn  inspire and encourage choices that promote better health and well being for everyone.

This blog will cover topics relating to parenting happier, healthier children through educating children in the kitchen and promoting healthy guts through healthy food choices.

The intention is to ignite critical thinking and a “prevention is better than cure” perspective.

by Cara Mullin

1 Wikipedia and Dr Perlmutter, Grain Brain

2 Dr John Ratey


4 Dr Tom O Bryan, Dr Perlmutter, Deanna Minnich, Alejandro Junger, MD, Donna Gates, Leo Galland, MD, Dr John Ratey, Pamela Smith, MD, Sara Gottfried, MD, Jeffrey Bland, PhD, Chris Meletis, ND, Rob Knight, PhD, Josh Axe, DC

5 The Institute for Functional Medicine and

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