Welcome to Family Eats, a website dedicated to brining to life the healthy and life-nurturing elements that are based in food. Our goal is to nurture the family unit by instilling good eating habits, while building lifelong traditions through the process of planning, shopping, preparing and consuming food together. Here at Family Eats we like to say we’re focused on “Reconnecting with the food we eat and the family we love.”
Our philosophy is simple. Good food. Good Nutrition. Good Family.
The industrialization of the food chain, proliferation of fast food outlets, and a lifestyle that is on the go, has changed the way Americans eat – for the worse. Lack of time and lack of know-how has built a food industry focused on convenience, rather than taste and healthfulness.
For all the good Food Network has done to get us back into the kitchen, meals on the go have replaced family meals, processed foods outnumber whole foods in the shopping cart, and our palates have become sensitized to prefer salty, fat-filled foods over the flavor of fresh seasonal foods.
Poor eating habits are a big part of our national health crisis. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 64% of the U.S. adult population is overweight, and roughly 31% of American adults meet the criterion for obesity – that is, about 59 million American adults.
As for children, the Center for Prevention and Health Services reports that the leading causes of childhood obesity are poor nutrition in the form of processed food; fast food; super-sized food; sugars and refined flours; and irregular meal patterns.
There is no doubt that children pattern their behaviors after their parents. And, if highly processed, fast foods are what they are served on a daily basis, they quickly become accustomed to that lifestyle. A 2003 study by the Gepetto Group, a New York advertising and marketing agency, found that 41% of kids who say they don’t know which foods are healthy and good for them are more likely to want to eat in a fast food restaurant.
Taste and nutrition have been surpassed by cost and convenience as primary determinants of food choices, and these are the driving reason why families skimp on nutritious meals. Whether it is on the go in the car, at a restaurant or at home, quick, impersonal and mostly unhealthy meals are the norm.
A study conducted by Harvard researchers and published in the Archives of Family Medicine, found families who reported eating together ‘almost every day’ took in more healthy nutrients including calcium, fiber, iron, and vitamins. Another study also indicated that children who ate meals together with the family ate more fruits and veggies than those who did not.
As an added benefit, the family meal is a great time to check in with family members. Children develop language skills, because when an adult is at the table, talk is richer. Establishing the routine of creating family togetherness is essential, and research suggests that cooking and eating at home will have a positive effect on the health of the body and the health of the family.
The reconnection with family and food is seen in the growth of the Slow Food Movement, which is based on the sensual pleasures of eating or welcoming participation in preparing the meal. “Slow food is all about cherishing the eating experience and getting back to what food used to be: a vehicle for drawing people together,” explains Sara Firebaugh, assistant director of Slow Food USA in 5 healthy trends worth following (CNN.com, Oct. 7, 2007). “Slow food embraces the psychological component of food choices, meal preparation and the act of eating,” adds Fern Gale Estro, M.S., R.D., a community nutritionist based in New York City, in the same article authored by Maria Condo. “A healthful diet isn’t just about what you eat, but how you eat it.”
Family Eats builds the foundation for truly changing our lifestyles, our health, and our relationship with our families, our friends, and the environment, so that we can nurture both the body and mind. It is what we call, Involved Family Nutrition.
Family Eats is a family culinary “How To” formed out of the day-to-day process of nurturing and feeding the family unit. Family Eats is not only a cooking web site, but a real-life site that shows what it really takes to instill healthy eating habits in an ever-changing family unit, while keeping an eye on taste, cost and time.
We feel it is more important that our children develop a relationship with food. That they experience it in its true form, not always mashed up and consumed unknowingly in a muffin, sauce or dessert. We want families to connect with the foods they eat, to develop an understanding of, and a love for, foods in their original state. What will happen when I no longer want to blend carrots into a pasta sauce so they don’t see it? Will my children make the connection when I tell them that they have been eating carrots in pasta sauce for years?
The Family Eats philosophy is to introduce the entire family, regardless of age, to new food, flavors and cultures, through the process of Involved Family Nutrition. By exposing the family to a broad range of healthful foods, they learn to eat in a balanced manner, to enjoy the rich complexity of flavors food has to offer, and learn about the origin of these foods a well.
Family Eats will bring the family to the source of the food, to learn about different kinds of tomatoes or apples, or the seasonality of squash, peaches and rhubarb, or exotic flavors of a new cuisine.
Children learn to eat healthfully through hands-on sensory filled experiences with food, not via intellectual lessons about nutrition. Our goal at Family Eats is to give everyone that sensory-filled experience that food brings . . . not only to the belly, but to the soul.
Family Eats will foster a fun, informative way to learn about healthful food choices, while building foundation for food and family to be intertwined throughout the day. Family Eats won’t eschew peanut butter and jelly. What we will provide are ideas for how to present it in a new way – on a waffle as a snack. We will also provide our readers with information about how to choose a peanut butter, and will answer such questions as, “Can you bake with natural peanut butter, or even “How do I choose a waffle iron.” Our goal is to provide the readers with more information so that they can make informed choices from the foods to the tools needed to prepare meals.
What makes Family Eats unique is that we are a real family experiencing the day-to-day challenges of getting meals on the table. We won’t sugar coat it, because we know it is hard. What we will do is offer solutions to those challenges. Sometimes they may work, other times they may be a work-in-progress.
As we head down this path, we invite you to join us on a journey towards Involved Family Nutrition. It will definitely be filled with exciting discoveries and challenging moments, but isn’t that what life is all about? In the process, we hope you will gain a greater connection with the foods you eat, along with the knowledge that food is integral to your own health and that of the family unit.
By making small changes in the way you plan, purchase, prepare and consume foods, you are making a choice to better the health of your family both physically and emotionally.
We encourage you to join us on the journey for a healthier family.
Welcome to Family Eats.
Greg, Laura, Grayson, Nicole, Addison and Keely