According to research, families who eat meals together eat healthier and decrease the risk of obesity. Research also shows that eating as a family can improve relationships, life satisfaction and life skills. With three typical meals a day, there are many opportunities each week for a family to eat together to improve their health and their family bond.

While many people today are busy with activities and spend less time at home, two ways to make this possible are preparation and scheduling time. Meal planning is a key factor to success and an added bonus, it’s also a huge component for weight loss.  A little work and creativity will have you eating as a family more often and on the road to a healthy lifestyle together.

MOVE and healthy teaching kitchens are two programs that Veterans can use to help make lifestyle changes. The MOVE Program provides Veterans an opportunity to learn how to eat better and lose weight.  MOVE handouts are provided to Veterans to help achieve a healthier lifestyle. Eating with Others and Eating at Home, are some helpful tips to managing healthy eating.

Healthy teaching kitchens work with Veterans and their families to teach them how to prepare healthy foods. Our dietitian at the VA in Muskogee works with Veterans teaching valuable cooking skills. They can also learn to cook for specific disease conditions.  Recipes used are found in the Yummy Benefits Cookbook Volume I and II. We even use recipes served to our patients here in the hospital.  Contact your PACT team or dietitian for more information.

The Pediatrics Journal  reports that when at least three meals are shared together family members are more likely to have healthier lifestyles and a normal weight.  There are many ways to start. First, make it simple. Start with easy-to-prepare food or family favorites. Once you are in a routine, branch out trying new foods.  Once a month pick up a new food to try. Second, incorporate mealtimes to fit your schedule. Lastly, get everyone involved. Involving your family in the planning and preparing of meals will increase chances of more meals together. Create themes, family nights and start new traditions to make it more fun and inviting.

My daughters and I love to cook. One favorite memory was planning seven course meals together. We would choose a theme and plan, prep and cook together. One in particular was an Italian theme. We invited the grandparents to join us in our lavish meal from appetizers to dessert. Sweet memories and delicious food—it doesn’t get any better.

Eating together leads to healthier choices. Start a new tradition this year, eat healthier together, try some new foods, and make lasting memories.

image of Cheryl MonroeCheryl Monroe M.S., is a registered dietitian at the Jack C Montgomery VA in Muskogee, Oklahoma. She works as a clinical dietitian.  She is married with 6 kids and 5 grandchildren. She also enjoys walks and run 5k’s when time permits.

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Published on Oct. 4, 2016

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