Father’s day is usually associated with quirky he-gifts, a bar-b-cue, and the start of summer. It’s an overly commercialized holiday, on the heels of mother’s day. (Ask any retailer about promotions for “moms and proms” / “dads and grads”).
But at its core, the day signifies the importance of a father in a child’s life. In the past, the father was the breadwinner, and the mother was the homemaker. Roles were gender defined, and men had little if anything to do with food at home, other than eating it.
Times have changed. Most families have two working parents, food preparation is much easier and convenient than in years past, and many new family structures exist as well. Yet there is still a gender divide when it comes to healthy eating practices.
Approximately 80% of the readers of this blog are women. If you look across the web at other food / nutrition/ health websites, the numbers are similar. 97% of dietitians are women. In the home, this translates to different approaches to eating, snacks, and habits by moms on the health side, and dads on the fun/tasty side.
Kids pick up on this very quickly. If mom is serving up a salad and fish, but dad pops a frozen cheeseburger in the microwave while guzzling a Coke, kids get a mixed message about what to eat.
Even subtle gestures, such as jokes about stinky broccoli at dinner, tell the kids, especially boys, what is considered “manly” food, and what is for girls and sissies. TV isn’t helping either. “Hungry Man” commercials present TV Dinners for guys while “Lean Cuisine” is for gals.
That’s why parents need to present a united front.
Dads should be food and nutrition role models, in addition to moms. In too many households, mom is the sole person charged with grocery shopping, food preparation, and making sure the kids eat balanced meals. By participating in the food preparation process, dad can learn a lot about what works and what doesn’t in his family. There’s a good chance the children will want to join in on the kitchen party as well. And when kids help prepare a dish (even broccoli) there’s an increased chance they’ll eat it too.
Happy Father’s Day!
Help us test our new food comparison tool: alpha.fooducate.com