Eating Meals as a Family: Fun and Good For You!

03-01-2017The Well

Sitting down for family meals seems harder to do these days when everyone is running in different directions. But a recent study published in the Journal of Pediatrics found young adults who ate just one or two family meals a week as kids were 45 perfect less likely to be overweight as compared to those who had never eaten with their families.

Some of the thinking behind this is that when we eat as a family we eat more slowly and intentionally. Parents may be more careful about the kinds of foods they serve. Portion sizes or how much we actually consume tends to be less. But eating together can also promote connection and a sense of love and belonging which helps reduce the impact of stress on the body. We know that stress can stimulate the production of hormones that can affect our metabolism, or our ability to burn fat. Caring, supportive interaction with other people is one of the most powerful ways to help our bodies release.

Hidden ingredients to watch for in prepared foods:

  1. Partially hydrogenated oils—These oils may also be labeled as trans fats on the nutrition label, but the amount listed may be tricky because any amount of trans fat less than 0.5 grams can be reported as 0, so you may end up getting transfats even if it says it contains 0. Hansmann suggests looking at the ingredient list and avoiding any hidden trans fats listed as “partially hydrogenated oils.”
  2. MSG and sodium—Packaged foods often contain a great deal of sodium, as not only reported on the nutrition label, but in the ingredients list as MSG. Ethnic dishes can be particular sources of MSG, which is often used as a flavor enhancer. Other foods that may contain hidden sodium are lunch meats, cheeses, frozen pizzas and even fresh baked breads.
  3. Sodium nitrates/nitrites—This hidden ingredient is often included  as a food preservative, helping extend the life of a packaged food item. However, there is growing evidence that his preservative is linked to certain types of cancer.
  4. High fructose corn syrup—This ingredient, is simply a fancy name for sugar and may be contributing to the growing diabetes epidemic in the U.S. Watch ingredient labels for anything ending in “-ose,” which are different forms of sugar. Look closely—there can often be three to four such ingredients in one food item.

If you have any questions or concerns about your family's health or any topic, feel free to contact Kathy Ford RN/Parish Nurse and Coordinator of Pastoral Care at 630-922-0081 ex.28 or