Ericha Grace, nutrition intern
It’s that time again! The summer has come to a close and September has rolled around once again. The weather is getting cooler in some regions, school is starting back up, and people are adjusting to a new schedule. Make family meals a priority as you adapt to your new, fall routine. September is National Family Meals Month™, a nationwide event geared toward emphasizing the importance of family meals and their benefits. It’s also Fruits & Veggies—More Matters® Month, a campaign dedicated to celebrating the goodness of fruit & veggies and encouraging consumption for better health.1
Why does mealtime matter?
According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, “Kids and teens who eat meals with their families four or more times a week, earn better test scores and succeed in school”.2 The Journal of Pediatric Child Health, notes frequent family meals increase self-esteem and promote stronger family connections.3 The American Journal of Occupational Therapy recently found that frequent family meals lead to the greater likelihood of positive social and family health outcomes for children with disabilities.4
Why jump on board the veggie & fruit train?
Fruits and vegetables add color, flavor and texture to your plate. Fruits and veggies may help reduce risk for certain diseases and most varieties are low in calories.1 The incorporation of more and more veggies is one of the most influential culinary trends another great reason to jump on board this fall as you make dinner for your family! Here are some ways you can do just that:
Make Vegetables Center Stage!
Extend Meal Time into Dessert – With Fruit
The family dinner table is one of the main places where we experience real life moments, whether it’s memorable conversation or meal mishaps, why not share those moments with others? Share photos of you and your family having dinner, the delicious, veggie-centric meals you have created, and inspire others to do the same. Even exchange your favorite recipes! Tell your friends about National Family Meals Month and Fruits & Veggies—More Matters Month and show what you are doing to participate. You can use the tag #RaiseYourMitt or #FamilyMealsMonth to commit to having one more meal at home per week. Your favorite social networking site can be your way of spreading the message to promote healthier lifestyles by increasing fruits and vegetable intake and sharing more meals with your family.
Fall can be a hectic time of year, but take the time to enjoy the company of your family around the dinner table while eating delicious, nutritious meals this month! Combine the celebrations of September (National Family Meals Month AND Fruits & Veggies—More Matters Month) to promote a healthier lifestyle for you and your family.
Ericha was a Nutrition Intern in the Global Nutrition & Regulatory Affairs department this past summer, working on multiple projects and learning the ins and outs of nutrition within the food industry. The majority of her work focused on phytonutrients as well as the new label regulations. Ericha is currently a graduate student at West Chester University working toward her Master’s degree in Community Nutrition. This past May, she graduated with her BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from WCU. As for the future, Ericha hopes to make an impact on various communities in the realm of health and wellness whether it is through local program planning, working in the food industry, or wherever life takes her.
- Fruits & Veggies More Matters. http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/
- The Importance of Family Dinners V. http://www.centeronaddiction.org/addiction-research/reports/importance-of-family-dinners-2009 Accessed July 25th, 2016.
- Utter J, Denny S, Robinson E, Fleming T, Ameratunga S, Grant S. Family meals and the well-being of adolescents. J Pediatr Child Health. 2013;49(11):906-911. doi:10.1111/jpc.12428.
- Degrace BW, Foust RE, Sisson SB, Lora KR. Benefits of family meals for children with special therapeutic and behavioral needs. Am J Occup Ther American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 2016;70(3). doi:10.5014/ajot.2016.014969.
- Top 10 Reasons to Eat MORe Fruits and Vegetables. http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/top-10-reasons-to-eat-more-fruits-and-vegetables. Accessed July 25th, 2016.