My family and I recently went on vacation to Las Vegas. And let me tell you, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” is not necessarily true. We enjoyed a lot of delicious food, and I am reminded of the expression, “a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.” My husband had already decided before we left home that he was going to eat salad for the two weeks following our trip. I thought that was a good idea. However, his idea of salad is not the same as mine. He likes his simple, with just some lettuce, a few veggies, and some salad dressing. I like for my salad to be a little more substantial.
There is a way that we are able to enjoy salads together, even on busy nights, and that is by prepping all of the ingredients before hand. Then when we get ready, we can each make our own salad to suit our individual tastes. My kids and I enjoy Mexican food, so for our salads we add a little cilantro, avocado, tortilla strips, and taco meat. A trick I have learned about dressing a salad is to toss the dressing with the lettuce before adding toppings. This way the dressing is more evenly distributed throughout the salad. Another trick, or time saver, is to use Hormel taco meat. It is already pre-cooked and seasoned and all I have to do is heat it for a few minutes while I am preparing the rest of my salad. So on those busy weeknights, like when soccer practice is during the dinner hour, we can get home afterwards and quickly prepare dinner.
We usually try to eat dinner together as a family which is a good thing, since family meals eaten at home have been proven to benefit the health and wellness of children and adolescents, to fight obesity, substance abuse and to make families stronger – creating a positive impact on our communities and our nation as a whole.
National Family Meals Month
September is National Family Meals Month. Take some time to dine with your family. Here are some facts about dining together:
- According to a 2013 Harris poll, only 30 percent of American families share dinner every night. Wolfson, J. and Bleich, S. (2014). Is cooking at home associated with better diet quality or weight-loss intention? Public Health Nutrition, Published online 17 November 2014.
- 81% percent of U.S. households cite home as the most popular location for eating dinner, and nearly half (50%) of consumers report eating dinner with everyone in their household every night of the week. Overall satisfaction was higher among those who made dinner at home compared to those who would eat out or have take-out food at home. The NPD Group. Dinnertime MealScape Study 2009.
- In a study examining the relationship between everyday family rituals and BMI measurements, boys who had a social dinner experience tended to have lower BMI, notably when the family stayed at the dinner table until everyone was finished eating. The results were the same for parents. Wansink, B. and Van Kleef, E. (2014). Dinner rituals that correlate with child and adult BMI. Obesity, 22 (5).
- People who eat most the most home-cooked meals eat healthier and consume about 130 fewer calories daily, on average, compared to people who cook less or not at all. Wolfson, J. and Bleich, S. (2014). Is cooking at home associated with better diet quality or weight-loss intention? Public Health Nutrition, Published online 17 November 2014.
- Children and adolescents who share family meals three or more times per week are more likely to be in a normal weight range and have healthier dietary and eating patterns than those who share fewer than three family meals together. Hammons, A. and Fiese, B. (2011). Is frequency of shared meals related to the nutritional health of children and adolescents? Pediatrics, 127 (6).
- Research concluded that educational and public health initiatives aimed at promoting shared family mealtimes may improve nutritional health of children and adolescents. Clinicians may advise their patients about the benefits of sharing three or more family mealtimes per week; benefits include a reduction in the odds for overweight (12%), eating unhealthy foods (20%), and disordered eating (35%) and an increase in the odds for eating healthy foods (24%). Hammons, A. and Fiese, B. (2011). Is frequency of shared meals related to the nutritional health of children and adolescents? Pediatrics, 127 (6).