The Great Disservice Parents Do To Their Kids By Not Including Them In Kitchen
It is an absolutely unlikely article coming from me but here we are but, I guess we all change as per circumstances.
If your parents are anything like typical Indian parents, then you probably were kept away from the kitchen all your life and away from doing all kinds of chores. The parents obviously come from a good place. They wanted us to focus on our studies or something else so that we can lead a ‘successful’ life for ourselves but the other bigger reason is that we see domestic responsibilities as chores and drudgery and this nowhere more pronounced than Indian households wherein we try to outsource all our responsibilities to house helps and successful life does not mean being responsible for yourself but rather being able to afford as many households helps as possible. Parents see it as a sign of success to grow up their kids in the most luxurious ways possible with as less household work given to the child as possible even if that means the child never understanding the food he eats his entire life or the nutrition entering his body and lives his entire life dependent on others for being fed.
This thought pattern also has something to do with the fact the way class is divided in India or if I daresay, worldwide — that intellectual work is superior to ‘drudgery’.
And I will not lie and act as if I was much different from this. My whole life my parents never asked me to do anything. Heck, even my room was cleaned by mom or sister and I have been of the thought process that the main work in my life is to study/work for my job and other things can be ‘outsourced’ and among the many changes due to Coronavirus, one has been how whole of Indian middle-class has been forced to work for itself.
There is no belittling the tragedy that this pandemic is and no side-effect ‘good’ can make up for it.
Having said that, I am truly glad that I have been forced to do all my work myself.
The only thing I feel bad about is that it took a pandemic for me to realize the value of it.
And the thing I am going to focus on in this article is — cooking.
If we are what we eat then when we control what we eat we essentially control who we are yet we let make everyone else make that decision for ourselves. The Health crisis in the world is real. India is home to the world’s third-largest number of obese people. Conditions like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension are becoming ever-more prevalent. According to a study India “India is experiencing a “nutrition transition”,” the study observes- “National nutrition surveys from the past few decades showing consumption patterns switching from traditional diets based upon fruits, vegetables, unprocessed cereals and legumes to diets that are increasingly dominated by highly processed packaged food and beverage products.”
This means nothing but that we are cooking less and eating more packaged food and there are many reasons for it.
Women now work so they obviously find themselves too tired to cook a meal at the end of the day and resort to buying ready to cook meals and of course the reasons listed above.
But, since my venture into cooking, there are a few things I have discovered because of which I truly believe everyone should cook
1. Taking Control of Your Relationship with Food
The fad diets, the experts, the health blogs and the many advice from social media influencers have absolutely changed our relationship with food and has made it one of exclusion — Don’t eat this, don’t eat that. Food becomes an enemy (Anorexia in extreme cases), something you should avoid and our relationship with it suffers. We don’t enjoy our meals, we start thinking of food as an enemy — which we must bear by eating things that we don’t enjoy.
This equation absolutely changes once you start cooking and the language becomes one of inclusion and love. Food becomes a companion in your journey to being healthy.
Putting every ingredient yourself, you are assured of the health quotient of your food. Moreover, when you cook it yourself you are able to eat your favorite food by cooking it in a healthy way and enjoy it guilt-free.
Taking control of your relationship is the best thing we can all do for our physical and mental health. Food is meant to be enjoyed and not to fret over or be anxious about.
2. Edible Substances May Not Be Food
According to Michael Pollan, American author, journalist, activist, and the Lewis K. Chan Arts Lecturer and Professor of Practice of Non-Fiction at Harvard University, professor of journalism at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism,
one should “Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants”, his mantra of a healthy diet.
Why did he say eat food? What else do we eat? According to him most of the processed packaged food look like food but are just edible substances. The processing of most of these items leads to the addition of absolutely disgusting amounts of oil, sugar, and salt. For example, a bowl of cornflakes can give you more than double the intake of your required sugar intake and that is just the starting of your day.
When companies make these packaged food, their mission is to make food look and taste attractive and to increase its shelf life which means adding every possible chemical to increase its shelf life. Also, most of the health claims made by the companies to make their food sound healthy are just manipulations, for example, the marketing teams will start telling you about the minimal fiber that Atta Noodles has, conveniently forgetting the audacious amount of saturated fats and sodium it has while other companies tell you their food is fat-free and forgetting the amount of sugar it has added to their cola.
I absolutely understand that this is their business and this is what they need to do to sell their food but we as consumers must keep our end user in mind — us and stop eating processed food. Do you know processed food left on its own is not even eaten by moth while fresh food is? Moths go-to food which is nutrient-dense. Let’s stop eating food which is even rejected by moths.
It can’t be emphasized enough how much your life changes once you make that switch.
3. Restaurant-style cooking is not the real cooking
A whole generation of parents has absolutely not taught their kids the art of cooking. Our ideas of cooking come from Masterchef and Vloggers of YouTube and that has never been what food culture has been about in any of our homes. Everyday cooking has nutrition and satisfaction at its core rather than beautiful dishes with a multitude of ingredients. I remember my mom used to make plain paratha and give it with tea(with bare minimum tea leaves) to my sister and it was probably her favorite dish and still might be. Everyday cooking is about using the amazing ingredients we have and cooking up something for us which is tasty and takes minimum effort which includes — making things which can be stored, cutting up garlic and storing for weeks in the fridge, buying peas and keeping them frozen or making chutneys and storing it and eating them with simple meals to enhance their taste or just roasting papad. Every dal doesn’t need to be dal fry — a jeera tadka works just as well. Also, cooking needs to stop being the woman’s job. I truly believe families need to include not just men but even the kids in the process. You are preparing them for life.
4. Like every other Art, food has no limit
I love exploring new things and till the time I was eating food made by others, there were too many limits. There were a limited number of dishes I used to like and even know of and if I didn’t like any particular ingredient — then every dish which had it was difficult for me to consume but all of it changes once you start cooking yourself. You realize the creativity the whole process has — how much you can experiment, how you can customize things and eat things which you disliked or thought was unhealthy or create absolutely new dishes. It opens up a whole new world of learning which to me is really exciting.
5. Taking responsibility for yourself is HOT
Trust in ourselves is built by taking responsibility for ourselves. We believe more in our worth when we do things we commit to and take responsibility for ourselves as adults rather than being victims of fate who have no control of their lives also called as internal locus of control. When we are able to live without depending on anyone and be self-dependent then we start loving ourselves and our own company. Loving your own company is probably the most underrated. People stay in bad friendships, households, and relationships because they are scared to be alone and managing their own life.
Today, after about 3 weeks of eating only homemade I had a packet of chips and it tasted absolutely horrible. So much salt and such lack of flavors led me to write this article. I have had an absolutely amazing experience learning how to cook and would definitely encourage you to try. I hope you have a great time too.