After traveling for a week for work, one of the things I looked forward to most was a home cooked meal. But if you’re like me, after a long day, the last thing I want to do is cook. Picking up a hot and ready meal isn’t always cost effective, but it’s usually easier and more convenient. However, this choice isn’t always the healthiest option. The recommended caloric intake for adults can range from 1,800-2,400 calories depending on your age and sex. In just one fast food meal, I can easily consume more than the recommended intake of calories. Those calories likely don’t include any fruits and vegetables either.
Several studies show the positive health impacts that home-cooked, family meals can have. Eating a family dinner at least three times a week allows you to:
• Include more fruits and vegetables. The recommended daily intake is 5 fruits and vegetables. By cooking at home, we are more likely to include them in our meals than if we were eating out. • Consume less calories by using fresh ingredients. • Create a balanced meal of protein, carbohydrates and fat, plus all the essential vitamins and minerals
With winter on the horizon, one of my favorite meals to cook is vegetable soup. It’s an easy option for me to get my vegetables in, and if I’m feeling really hungry, I usually throw in some lentils or chicken for protein. To save time, I throw everything in the crockpot before I leave to work and it’s a comforting feeling to know that when I get home, dinner is ready!
Family meals also offer an environment where parents and their kids can build relationships and solve problems. Eating family dinner at least three times a week can reduce risky behaviors among youth, such as: smoking, drug and alcohol use, sexual activity, violence, and suicide attempts. For some families, coming together at the dinner table to share a meal can be a helpful way for kids and adults to maintain a significant connection with each other. Here are some ways to ease the challenges of family dinners:
• Plan meals for the week. Make a grocery list for each meal and post the menu on the refrigerator where everyone can see it. • Share the cooking responsibilities and get the kids involved. For the younger kids, they can help by scrubbing the vegetables, kneading dough, measuring ingredients or serving the food. For the older kids, they can prepare parts of a recipe or even whole dishes on their own. Involving the family can significantly reduce the burden of having one parent feel like they’re responsible for the entire meal preparation.
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December 12, 2017
The Paso del Norte Health Foundation offices will be closed on Monday, December 25, 2017 - Monday, January 1, 2018 in observance of the Holiday Season.
The office will reopen for business on Tuesday, January 2, 2018.
Have a safe and healthy holiday.