Facts with Hope
FACT: Shared family mealtimes lead to better health and weight control, positive social outcomes, improved grades and less use of drugs, cigarettes and alcohol. And these positive outcomes aren’t just for kids. Numerous studies reveal that all ages, races, ethnic groups, levels of education, employment and income are benefited by eating with family.
HOPE: We eat every day. Reclaim the family table and make it a habit to eat together. In the next week, select one meal when all the people in your household sit down and eat together. Turn off the television and focus on listening to each other, sharing the day’s stories, and nurturing the family connection. Not only will you be fostering better health in your family, but you may find that no one wants to leave the table!
FACT: Kids who skip breakfast tend to gain more weight. A new study in the International Journal of Obesity evaluated the relationship between skipping breakfast and change in weight over a two year period among 68,606 Chinese grade school children. Researchers found that those kids who were skipping breakfast in grade 4 tended to gain significantly more weight by grade 6 than those who ate breakfast.
HOPE: Does the morning rush shortchange breakfast at your house? Talk to your kids about the importance of the morning meal and together explore ways you can save time while still making breakfast a priority, like make-ahead meals and breakfast-to-go options. The time invested can go a long way in maintaining good health and preventing obesity.
FACT: More than 25% of daily calorie intake now comes from snacks. A study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that between 1977 and 2006 the percent of adult Americans that snack rose from 71% to 97%, while the number of snacks per day, snack size, and calories per snack also increased. Total snack calories per day now average 579 calories per day, with beverages accounting for 50% of the calories consumed through snacking.
HOPE: If you’re struggling with weight or health issues, consider what is motivating you to snack. Often snacking is a result of skipped meals or staying up too late. Then scrutinize the snacks and beverages you tend to grab. Snacking can be part of a balanced and healthy diet by replacing high-calorie snacks and drinks with good-tasting foods that provide dietary fiber and nutrients.
FACT: An hour between eating and sleep may lower stroke risk. A 1000-patient study presented at this year’s European Society of Cardiology Congress found that waiting 60-70 minutes before going to bed after eating reduced the risk of stroke by 66%. And for every 20 minutes more that you wait, stroke risk drops another 10%.
HOPE: Here’s a health tip that takes little effort… wait at least an hour to go to sleep after eating. Not only will you cut your risk of stroke, but previous research has shown that you’ll also decrease your risk of acid reflux disease and sleep apnea (another risk factor for stroke).