Pancakes for Dinner, Forever! Using Social Media as a Women’s Health Tool

I am a young mother with two children. I have lots of friends who are mothers. Some of them work outside the home, but many of them stay at home with their kids. The other day, one of my friends, who is a fantastic stay-at-home mom, posted on Facebook that she loathes everything about dinnertime—from figuring out what to eat, to cooking it, to making sure her kids eat it, to cleaning up afterward. She said, “I just want to cook pancakes for dinner for the rest of our lives.”

The comments piled up quickly, with almost everyone in vehement agreement. The only two people out, of about twenty, who didn’t feel exactly the same way, were a friend’s husband and myself.

flickr: ugod

I was a little shocked. I’ve certainly had the experience of just wanting to make pancakes for dinner (or get pizza or Thai food). But, I love to shop for groceries, plan meals, cook, and sit at the dinner table and look at my children and husband and think how lucky I am. Feeding my family is an elemental joy—a nourishing and gathering and connecting time. I guess I thought more people felt that way.

Since then, I’ve realized how many of my friends dread cooking, how many of them lack the knowledge to make healthy (or delicious!) food choices, and how many of them struggle with weight, food allergies, picky kids (and husbands), time constraints, declining income, and on and on…

But, I also realized how many of them are on Facebook.

Research shows that a majority of women spend a lot of time online and a lot of that time on social media sites. Just from my rough personal experience, I can say that most of my friends (especially mothers who need an adult connection) are on Facebook many times a day, whether through their personal computers or smartphones.

Research also shows that there have been several setbacks in women’s health (the United States earned an Unsatisfactory grade in a recent report). Obesity in women is a growing problem, with lack of physical exercise and nutrients a big part of the issue. Jamie Oliver, Michael Pollan, and many others have drawn attention to how Americans must learn to choose better food, prepare it, and eat it (which, for some families, is the hardest part!).

So, isn’t this a golden opportunity? I wrote last week about how social networking sites can help people exercise more consistently. Well, I’m also arguing that, because the vast majority of women are socially connected online, they can be a boon for women’s health.

And not just nutrition, but reproductive health, child-rearing, and other issues that most women deal with. If 76 percent (I still gape at that number) of women visit a social networking site in a month, then hospitals could potentially reach a huge number of their female patients.

Let’s save the maple syrup for Saturday mornings (and how about whole-wheat blueberry flax pancakes?), and get moving on creating social media content that can literally change women’s lives.

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