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They Say: Working Parents Don't Have Time to Eat Right

family-meal-restaurantA small nutritional study out of Cornell University found that working parents often resort to time-saving coping strategies when it comes to feeding themselves and their families.

Can I get a “well, duh?”

With the exception of the foodies, most of the parents I know look into their fridge and dinner and think to themselves, “Okay, what’s the shortest path to a semi-nutritious meal?”  It’s hard to think about preparing a major meal at the end of a long work day, with homework, bath, and bedtime still ahead.

That said, the Cornell study found that in low to moderate income families, those time-saving strategies can lead to unhealthy habits for parents and their children.

Half of the 25 mothers and 25 fathers that were surveyed used one of the following coping strategies:

  • skipping breakfast or other meals
  • eating at work
  • ordering take out or fast food
  • overeating because they missed a meal
  • relying on quick and easy processed food products

A previous study had found that low-income parents rely on these strategies not only because they’re busy, but because it saves money.  Working through lunch, for instance, means not giving up those wages to take a break.

Study author Carol Devine says her findings show that the obesity problem in America isn’t just a matter of food choices; our stressful lifestyle contributes.  “We are not going to fix the obesity epidemic simply by telling people to eat well and choose good food,” Devine told Time magazine. “This study is telling us that it is the structure of our lives that makes it very difficult to do what doctors recommend.”

Does your busy day-to-day schedule have an impact on your family’s meals?  And if you’ve figured out a way to serve up healthy, homemade fare during the work week, share your tips with us.

Photo: artotem, Flickr

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