Since becoming a mother, my obsession with building healthy nutrition habits has greatly increased. When you have a tiny human to grow, you become more selective about their diet and nutrition, and therefore your own. I am apprehensive about giving my son packaged and processed foods. I am also pretty weary and inspective about the produce I give him. Pretty Birds, let’s be honest, I know I’m not the only mom who takes two hours at the grocery store reading nutrition labels. If you’re lucky, you may also become a clean eater in the process of parenting. There have always been myths that say you shouldn’t stand by the microwave when you’re pregnant. Pregnant women are urged to avoid hovering around an active microwave to escape exposure to electromagnetic fields. But what about using the microwave period? How does this affect our food?
Over the decades, case studies have dug into the negative effects that microwaving has on families, especially Americans. More than 95% of American homes own a microwave today. The very first Radarange was very large and became widely normal in households in the late 60s’, early 70s’. By 1997, over 90% of American households owned a microwave, as families were able to multitask and began to eat together less. The early versions of the microwave didn’t catch with American companies right away because of safety hazards regarding dangerous radiation. Japanese and Korean manufacturers emerged with a smaller version in the 1980s, which was more affordable and took up less counter space.
HOW MICROWAVES WORK
So what happens to your food when you pop those leftovers in for a quick heat? Microwaves use technology which pass electromagnetic waves through food. The molecules in the food move about and crash into each other, which causes them to heat up in response to the radiation. This process is much like when you rub your hands together to create warmth. Microwaves have energy that travel at the speed of light, which transfers the molecules polarity from positive to negative. The polarity changes in these molecules thousands of times each second it’s in the microwave. Most microwaves rotate, to be consistent with the rotating electric field of waves.
WHY MICROWAVES CAN BE HARMFUL
There are some pros to the microwave. One being that your food heats up quickly, meaning you don’t have to wait too long to appease to your growling stomach. The other is that sometimes it’s the best way to preserve nutrients. According to a 2015 article in the Harvard Health Newsletter, “Because microwave cooking times are shorter, cooking with a microwave does a better job of preserving vitamin C and other nutrients that break down when heated.”
Yet, the shorter cook times can also result in unevenly heating your food, which happens because the microwave reacts with the water molecules in your food, so whichever parts have more moisture will get heated first. That means the hottest parts of your food are overheated, resulting in the loss of nutrients. For example, there have been several studies including a US National National Library of Medicine study stating that microwaving breast milk can destroy most of its disease-fighting capabilities. And, no microwaves do not cause cancer or produce radiation in your food, but can definitely destroy some of the nutrients in your food. This essentially all just means that not everything you eat should be microwaved.
Something else to consider, that is way more harmful, is microwaving our food in plastic containers. It’s harmful because of BPA, which was banned in 2012 from use in baby bottles and sippy cups, and other chemicals that can attach to your food when heated. BPA is an endocrine disruptor that screws with your hormones! If you’re in a rush and reheat your leftover pizza in a plastic dish, some plastic chemical properties may melt onto your food right before you consume it. Even BPA-free plastic containers are deemed to cause harm. Some alternatives? Taking your food out of the takeout container and heating on a proper plate or in a bowl, or opting glass or ceramic containers.
The bottom line is that there’s no guarantee that once we microwave our food it will still contain all of its nutrients, but it’s not a huge harm to your health if you do continue to use it. I myself have used the microwave since I was a child, because of convenience. Now that I am a mother, I’ve been using the stovetop to warm up my son’s dinner and even the oven. I think the bigger message here is that It saddens me that we are at a time where families don’t eat together anymore. We are even referred to as “microwave generation”, meaning we want everything instantly and don’t strive for long-lasting success and experiences. One way we can take a step to stop this is by letting go of our microwaves. This commitment will coerce you into eating fresher foods, preparing smaller amounts at a time, and most importantly sharing a meal with loved ones.
Yes, it might take longer. But, everything you eat can be reheated in the oven, on the stovetop and inside of a toaster oven. Which, means that during the 20-30 mins it takes to reheat your food, that’s 20-30 minutes of quality time. This is a great habit to pass on to our children, and maybe their children too! As we step into a more health-and-mindful conscious space, this is a habit we should take with us. Fresh foods and safer heating are what’s best for our community. I feel good about this change and I know you will too!
Image By : Simuyu Tou / @simuyutou
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