Holistic Habits by Cheryl A. Mothes, Ph.D. Natural Health Nutrition Counselor (10)

This week we are sharing some very surprising facts about the importance of family meals together. Not only do they provide time to connect with each other, they offer a protective “shield” for our families in three ways. They help with intellectual functioning, physical health, and mental health. These are all VERY Important aspects that something as simple as eating together can improve. Family meals have more to do with a teenager’s positive outcomes than do their socioeconomic status, family structure, after-school activities, tutors, or church! WOW. Stay tuned to learn more this week and have a marvelous Monday everyone!

As we mentioned yesterday, there are some surprisingly positive outcomes when families eat meals together. For example, meal-time conversations promote language development and literacy, as well as future academic success! Yes, eating together as a family helps our children do better in school. The more that children are exposed to extended conversations during meals, the more chances they must gain vocabulary, understand sentences and stories, and know more about our world – the world YOU want to share with them. Teens who had infrequent family meals were twice as likely to do poorly in school than those who ate dinner with their families. What counts as enough family meals? It is five or more meals a week. Tune in tomorrow to learn more and have a terrific Tuesday everyone!

We have been talking all week about the especially important need to have meals together as a family. It not only helps children do better in school, but it also helps our kids be HEALTHIER. Guess what? If we eat together, our children eat more fruits, vegetables, dark green and orange, fiber-rich foods and they also have lower intake of soft drinks. And remember, these behaviors follow them into adulthood. Frequent family meals are protective against disordered eating behaviors – even after five years – those family meals decreased use of extreme weight-control behaviors in girls. There is also improved self-esteem and higher body satisfaction among overweight boys and girls. This is huge: teens who have family meals together are less likely to smoke cigarettes and marijuana and have a reduced risk of abusing alcohol! It is even stronger for younger teens that are age 12 and 13. Here’s an important fact: A child who gets through age twenty-one without smoking, abusing alcohol, or using illegal drugs is virtually certain never to do so! On this wonderful Wednesday, power up their plates, on the table, and just think what is happening for them!

More today about eating meals together! Teens who eat less than three family dinners per week together are three and a half times likelier to have abused prescription drugs, three and a half times likelier to have used illegal drugs (other than marijuana or prescription drugs), three times likelier to have used marijuana, more than two and a half times likelier to have used tobacco and one and a half times likelier to have used alcohol! Eating meals together has been shown to make teens happier with improved self-esteem and a positive sense of the future. It also makes parents happier and healthier and allows them to feel more connected and involved in our child’s life. It helps us all unwind and lessen the stress of their everyday lives. VERY importantly, it provides us with the opportunity to share our values and build family traditions and rituals. It is a simple, daily ritual that can support family life. Read the book “Home for Dinner” to learn more about the importance of rituals and a sense of involvement.

We now know the importance of having meals together – the physical, mental, emotional benefits to our children as well as the parents. But how can we do it if we are not already doing it now? If you are not doing five meals a week together, start with where you are and gradually add more. Keep things simple and fun and ask the kids to help. Insist on attendance and make meals a priority. Cook at home as much as possible – unbelievably 80% of meals are eaten outside the home and 20% are eaten in the car! Serve everyone the same food, talk about good things and tough things, share family stories, put away phones, and remember that on average, it takes children twenty times to incorporate a new food into their diets so never give up! Look at the health on your shelf – whether it is foods you can prepare together, or fun plates or napkins to celebrate Friday night pasta traditions. Have a fantastic Friday everyone!

Reference: Nourish: The Definitive Plant-based Nutrition Guide for Families by Reshma Shaw, MD and Brenda Davis, RD

From Last Year…

Hey all – I have had requests for this messaging…friends are seeing their friends drink and not know the consequences. And it is not about alcoholism or driving drunk…it is about any alcohol. So here you go!
On this meatless Monday, we are going to talk about research from The American Institute for Cancer. Their bottom-line message is, “Diets that revolve around whole plant foods – vegetables, whole grains, fruits and beans – cut the risk of many cancers and other diseases as well. Limiting alcohol, eating mostly plant foods, and maintaining a normal body weight was associated with a 62% lower risk of breast cancer” and that great result is if we are following only three of their ten recommendations! Also, alcohol consumption is related to at least seven types of cancer, yet fewer than 50% of Americans realize there is any link between consuming alcohol and cancer. More to come all week about alcohol and our health, so stay tuned and have a marvelous Monday!

Yesterday we talked about cancer prevention – eating vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and beans… and the fact that alcohol consumption is related to at LEAST seven types of cancer… but did you know it kills more women from breast cancer than from any other? The International Agency for Research on Cancer estimates that for every drink consumed daily, the risk of breast cancer goes up 7 percent! All the research linking alcohol to breast cancer is deadly solid. In fact, alcohol is classified as a definitive human breast carcinogen. Have a terrific Tuesday everyone and come back tomorrow to learn more!

Yesterday we focused on the link between alcoholic beverage consumption and breast cancer and that alcohol is literally classified as a breast carcinogen. A carcinogen is a substance that promotes the formation of cancer. Here is the scoop on drinking alcohol: Alcohol can increase levels of estrogen and other hormones associated with breast cancer. It also may increase breast cancer risk by damaging DNA in cells. Compared to women who do not drink at all, women who have ONLY three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15% higher risk of breast cancer. AND guys, it is linked to six OTHER cancers. So, on this wonderful Wednesday, consider improving your wealth of health by nixing the alcohol.

We have talked all week about the harmful effects of drinking alcohol and last week we talked about the concept of “everything in moderation”. When it comes to alcohol, the widely held view that drinking red wine is healthy is being revised – alcohol consumption contributes to much death and disability and that wonderful book “Undo It” says that the safest level of drinking is NONE. Alcohol contributes to health loss from many causes and takes a toll on all our body systems. We can reap all the positive health rewards from red wine, without any of the negative issues by eating purple grapes – the ones with the seeds appear to be most effective. So, save yourself some health, and wealth, by not drinking wine.

We have talked all week about alcohol and how studies have revised the thinking that moderate drinking is good for us – the only time mortality improves by drinking some alcohol is for those who take bad care of themselves. Interesting. In addition to the cancer risks of alcohol consumption, remember that it dehydrates us, which is not good, it is loaded with calories (again, not good), is a depressant and is neurotoxic – meaning it directly damages our brain cells. If you are serious about living longer and living stronger, the research is clear that alcohol is not a part of either. This week the health on the shelf message is about what NOT to have on your shelves, which is alcoholic beverages. Have a fantastic Friday everyone!

Content is daily radio script from my KHIS radio spot – tune in at 6:15 (CST) every morning to Justin and Meredith’s morning show 89.9 FM.
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