We are very busy here in the U.S., and we need to slow down.
Every day, we wake up, get the kids ready for school, jump on endless zoom calls, take the kids to all the extracurriculars they’ll eventually put on their college applications, come home, get everyone ready for bed, rinse and repeat. And we do this all while usually balancing other things simultaneously. According to a 2016 survey, about half of Americans usually try to do two or more things at once.
We love multitasking, and we love staying busy. Unfortunately, staying super busy doesn’t necessarily love us back. According to a 2018 survey, 60% of U.S. adults said they sometimes felt too busy to enjoy life. That percentage jumps to 74% when you look at parents of children under 18. Nearly a third of parents also said they always felt rushed.
It’s not easy being a parent in the go, go, go society we all live in. Simply reading through and typing up all these statistics is stressing me out. It is no wonder things like mommy wine culture are a thing as parents lean on alcohol and other vices to take the edge off parenting in today’s world.
Aside from chronic stress and poor coping habits, there is another, less obvious way our busy lives impact our health. With so much going on, who has any time left to cook or sit down to enjoy a proper meal these days?
According to a study that looked at 34 primarily Western modern countries, Americans spend the least time cooking or preparing meals. On average, we spend just 30 minutes a day cooking our meals, while countries like Portugal, Italy, and Spain spend about double that amount of time making their food.
We also spend the least time eating our food compared to the same group of countries. While the French or Italians will regularly sit through multiple courses at lunch and dinner with friends and family, nothing beats a Chik-fil-A drive-through here in the U.S. when you are in a pinch and craving some of that secret sauce.
So we cook fast, and we eat fast. What’s the big deal? Well, the big deal is that the U.S. also has an obesity rate that is double the average of the other countries in the study. Cooking your meals and slowing down when you eat are two of the most important things you can do to promote better health with your nutrition.
Whenever you eat out, even if you go to a restaurant with healthy food options, there is no guaranteed way to know what you are getting. These establishments will often serve meals packed with extra hidden calories from their cooking oils, sauces, and salad dressings. Cooking your meals at home is the only way to ensure that you know exactly what you are putting into your body.
It is also important to slow down and enjoy your meals in as close to a relaxed state as possible. Slamming down a granola bar and protein shake as you sit in traffic on your way to work is far from ideal for many reasons.
You should be thoroughly chewing every bite and enjoying meals around other people in a relaxed state so your body can properly digest and absorb the nutrients from your food. Constantly eating food while doing work or scrolling through your phone can lead to gut issues, indirectly impacting efforts to lose excess fat or maintain a healthy weight.
The key takeaway? The U.S. ranks among the best in the world in many areas, but how fast we cook and eat our food shouldn’t be one of them. If we want to improve our health, we need to find the time to slow down, cook our meals, and enjoy the foods we make with friends and family without constantly rushing.
So let’s all try to slow down a bit in 2023. Our bodies, our health, the health of our families, and our social connections will thank us for it later.