As many of you know I'm a dietitian. I've been a dietitian for fourteen years and recently started my own practice. In addition, I'm a mom of two preschoolers and a wife. I love my job and am so happy that I worked so hard to start my practice. It gives me flexibility even with the added stress and it challenges me from a professional growth standpoint, as a mother, and a wife.
I see clients who range from pediatric to geriatric and I'm reminded every day that frankly, life is hard. For some of my clients insurance covers my services but for many it is an out of pocket cost that is fairly expensive. Add the expense to the added stress that comes with our generation and it's a lot to take. Which brings me to a point about our generation.
We've all heard it. Our kids will be the first generation who will not out live their parents because of the "obesity" epidemic. I see many pediatric children who are overweight or obese and I also see a lot of families struggling with making smart choices at the grocery store or making dinners at night. In fact, many can't even sit down for dinner anymore.
According to a publication from the Journal of American Medicine in 2010, 43% of families eat together every night. Of those 43% of families, 33% say the TV is always on, 27% state the TV is on half the time, and 5% admit someone is texting, emailing, or on their cell phone during the family meal.
This boggles my mind! Our generation complains of being so busy and lacking the resources we need to tackle obesity and disease prevention yet our priorities seem to be keeping up with the latest technological applications.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2012 printed that 48% of married couples have a dual income and 77% of all couples have two or more incomes. This statistic may prove that preparing dinners is much different than years ago. From 1969-1996 alone, there was an 84% rise in working married women with children. Simply put, we do not live in a time when dinner is prepared and ready for the worker bee or perhaps, even our children.
Even with the statistics above we are still making confusing choices. In a time when most families have to have a dual income we force ourselves to run our kids to their numerous sports, dance, and other activities right in the smack of, you guessed it, dinnertime. We decide we don't have enough time to plan and prepare for dinner so we purchase fast food. We notice that our families are gaining weight because we don't have time to "play outside" anymore but we just can't make an appropriate change.
What the heck is wrong with our generation? I hear about and witness a lot of people who are struggling and complaining and I have to wonder, are we doing it to ourselves?
How much more time would it take to plan out meals for the week to avoid last minute visits to fast food? Do your children really need to do two or three activities at a time? Puberty does wonders and sometimes it doesn't matter how good your child is at a sport at eight or nine. They just might not reach the height potential for basketball, or their breasts may make it too hard for them to be a sprinter. Hey it's life.
What if you even cut activites down to one and saved some money and hired someone to start your family dinners instead? What if you turned off your cell phone, TV, or stopped texting during dinner and actually focused on how the dinner tasted, why vegetables are important, or what an appropriate portion looks like? After all the most important people in your life, your immediate family, are sitting right in front of you. What could you possibly be missing on TV that is more important?
Times are changing and priorities need to shift. Our generation is so obsessed with being the perfect "un-nuclear" family that we're missing the point. For 2013 I challenge you to make the shift. Focus on family dinners. Plan and prepare meals that are good for your family. Go outside to play. Make that big nutritious Sunday dinner and be a healthy example for your kids. I've seen some amazing transformations in 2012 and I can't wait to see more in 2013. What are you going to change in 2013?