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Nutrition News: Family Mealtime

Charlyn Fargo on

Family Mealtime

September is officially designated as Family Meals Month. I've always thought it's funny we need to designate a month for that. I grew up eating family meals every night. Even with volleyball practice and basketball games, we fit in a family meal.

Somehow my parents knew that gathering around the table to eat as a family offered all kinds of benefits. My brother and I grew up eating what my mom fixed -- and we learned to like foods we weren't crazy about at first.

I tried to do the same with my own daughter and son. Family meals allow parents to be role models and create a supportive environment that promotes healthy eating. Even if you can only eat a couple of meals a week together, it's worth the effort.

Studies have shown that children of families who regularly eat together are more likely to have higher intakes of fruits and vegetables and are less likely to be obese, have behavior problems or use drugs, cigarettes or alcohol when they get older. Plus, they're closer to their parents.

Here are some tips to make family meals happen more often in your home:

 

-- Keep it simple. Attempting to make a meal with 20 ingredients is a recipe for disaster. Instead, build a small collection of go-to recipes to help you get in and out of the kitchen in under 30 minutes.

-- Choose ingredients that make extra. Instead of preparing just three chicken breasts, consider making six. This way, you can use the extras in other dishes such as chicken salad, quesadillas or fajitas.

-- Say no to takeout. A quick trip to the drive-thru might seem like a speedy way to get dinner on the table, but it could be adding to your family's waistline. A simple meal made at home from lean protein, whole grains and fresh, frozen or canned vegetables is more likely to contain the nutrients your family needs without all the extra sodium and dietary fat.

-- Make it a habit. You may not be able to have dinner at the same time every day, but at least try to have dinner together whenever schedules accommodate.

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