When I was little, I LOVED McDonald’s Happy Meals – the boxes with the yellow ‘M’ handle and the little plastic-wrapped plastic decoder or plastic figurine of something or other.
Source: The Motherload
Yes, I went to McDonald’s three times when I was in India because I’ll admit, the McAloo and fries were really, really good there. Plus it was so nice, friendly, and fancy. But in the U.S., I haven’t been in one in a long, long time. There are multiple reasons why, one of the big ones being that little link between fast food and obesity? Yeah…it’s kinda true. So before you agree to to buy your little ones a meal just to collect all 10 figurines, please:
- Check out this report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest on kid’s meals and obesity, and
- Read Amy Clark of MomAdvice”s piece on how to prepare a healthier, home-made Happy Meal (Thanks, Amy, for a brilliant idea!)
Beyond the health reasons, however, there are other benefits to depend less on take-out and drive-throughs…
…and more on home-cooked, family meals. I know that many of us are so busy that cooking every day seems impossible. But find the time now or pay for it later, as they say.
Study after study shows that eating (healthily) together as a family not only reduces the chance of obesity, but also can lead to lower risk of depression and increase cognitive development. Eating together allows families to share stories and pass down family traditions and knowledge. Much learning happens in the kitchen and around the dining table so whether children are helping stir the pot or set the table, eating together as a family has many immeasurable benefits. Check out this quick video about how obesity can be partly attributed to the decline of the family meal:
Keep in mind it’s not just eating together physically. Eating fast food together or a home-cooked meal in front of a television isn’t quite what this video is talking about. It is eating healthily together, conversing, interacting, debating, learning, sharing.
Now that sounds like a real happy meal.