Want to ensure your kids will grow up to be happy, successful adults? Do you also want to ensure they become confident individuals? Do you remind them that kindness to themselves is just as important to those they meet? Perhaps you dream of them being the athlete you never had the chance to become.

If so, then stop spending your time in the drive-through and spend more time in the kitchen.

I was never a stay-at-home mom. I cherished my time on maternity leave but then quite quickly re-entered my sole practice as a therapist. I loved my work but I also loved my kids. We, like most parents, wanted the best for our children. The first activity we enrolled them in was swimming, as it is considered a life-saving activity. Secondly, we enrolled them in the community soccer league. Apart from these two activities, if they made a specific request for another activity, we checked to see if it fit our schedules and bank account, and if it did, we gladly considered it.

But even in our most challenging times managing kids’ activities, we never lost sight of the importance of feeding them homemade nutritious meals, even if they sometimes needed to eat them in the car. Also, quite often I would be the one staying home for cleanup, while my husband drove them to the game or practice. I would often join them later or stay home with another child. Other times I simply made lunches for the next day or completed other necessary house chores.

It turns out that time spent in the kitchen is a compounding asset, whereas the drive-through is a depreciating asset.

Have you ever realized how your kid’s health is your grandchildren’s health? The benefit of whole unprocessed foods weighs far above the actual nutrition at the time of consumption. Not only are you ensuring your child’s brain is receiving the essential vitamins and nutrients to grow a healthy brain, but you are also modeling what is a lost skill in this decade of time.

That is the art of cooking.

Cooking is a creative fun art, but of late it seems as though it has been viewed more as a waste of time. Why would we spend our ‘free time’ doing meal preparation when we can just pick up food on the way?

In my view, this is not ‘free time’, it is necessary time. It seems ridiculous to me how helicopter parents screen their children’s consumption of media because of their children’s emotional health but they pay no awareness to what these children are putting in their bodies.

I often hear the comment that children are so resilient and bounce back quickly – however, a fully mature brain for a male happens at 25 years old and a female at 24 years, but even more important is the idea of brain plasticity. You can keep your brain from aging if you are feeding it the right foods. I could start listing what many consider ‘brain boosting foods’ but the way I look at it, if it was created whole and in God’s hands, I’m sure he created it for a reason, and perhaps we should eat it in that form. In other words, no food is either good or bad, what is important is that we eat a variety, and it is mainly in the form of plants.

If it was created whole and in God’s hands, it was created for a reason.

As a therapist, I have had many young adolescents and children in my room asking for assistance with anxiety. I have offered a lot of psychological tips and tricks to help manage their anxious brains, but from time to time I cannot help but to ask what they have eaten in the last couple of days. That gives me some good insight into their diets. Sometimes I offer them nutritional education, but often I hesitate since I don’t feel their parents would be overly thrilled using the money, they put aside for psychological services for me to speak to their children about the subsequent effects of eating highly processed foods.

In summary, children create habits that they see modeled to them. We are our children’s mentors, first-line teachers, and educators and it is our job to teach our children what healthy food is – not only for their physical health but equally for their mental well-being. Finally, eating at home as a family is becoming a pastime of generations past – and this too is contributing to anxious children. These children tend to eat more in front of a device, rush, and mindlessly overeat, which again contributes to overall well-being.