Parents who work long and odd hours are more apt to buy fast food and prepared entrees, says the study by Cornell University researchers, published in the September/October issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education. And another coping mechanism is to skip some meals entirely.
The survey study found that:
- About a quarter of moms and dads said they had no access to healthful, reasonably priced, good-tasting food at or near their workplaces.
- Fathers who worked long hours or had non-standard work schedules were more likely to opt for take-out meals, more apt to miss family meals, and more apt to eat on the job.
- Mothers with long hours or non-standard work hours reported having more restaurant meals or already-prepared entrees, and also skipped breakfast.
- Only 56% of fathers and 40% of mothers had more than five home-cooked family meals a week.
- Half to three-fourths of parents had at least one fast food meal per week, and at least one take-out meal a week.
- Watching TV was common during family meals, especially for moms.
- The most common speed-up strategy was grabbing quick food at work instead of a meal.
- Fathers who lacked access to reasonably priced, good-tasting food at work were more likely to miss lunch, eat while working or in the car, and were less likely to pack a lunch.
This study points out to me the enormous challenges parents face when working long hours and then needing to care for a family. The time pressure from work often leads feelings time scarcity, fatigue and strain that leaves parents with less personal energy for provide nutritious food and meals for their families.
Spending a little more time on the days off planning meals ahead instead of trying to put meals together on the fly is such an important strategy for working parents. Resorting to fast food only results in your children eating more processed carbohydrates (french fries, pizza,pasta, soda, bread) and often not enough protein or vegetables to provide a more balanced and nutritious meal.
I know its hard as I often get home late and often feel like grabbing something quick. I cook most meals in my household and am committed to cooking a healthy meal for my family every night .
My advice is that the more you work at a healthier solution for you and your family, the easier it becomes. Try to come up with 2-3 simple, and quick items you can cook at night and have them every week to start with. After a while you’ll start to get in the swing of organizing your shopping more and you can add a few options here and there.