Food and Fitness After 50: Family Meals Month

The Food Marketing Institute Foundation has established September as Family Meals Month. While the campaign is focused on getting families to eat at least one additional meal together each week, let’s look at what a “family” means to adults over 50.

For many of you, your household may be shrinking for many reasons. Maybe your kids are on their own and live far from home, your parents might be in a senior living residence, or you might find yourself living on your own after many years of sharing your home with a spouse. Whatever the reason, Americans are increasingly eating alone. Many years ago, I researched the effect of widowhood on eating behaviors and nutrient intakes and found that widowhood changed the social environment of the men and women, altering the social meaning that eating held for them, resulting in negative effects on eating behaviors and nutrient intakes. Overwhelmingly, the men and women I interviewed said that eating alone decreased the enjoyment of mealtime. Adults who live alone may also lose the desire to cook for themselves.

Since dinner is identified as the most social of all the meals, what can you do to make it more social and healthy? Here are a few ideas to consider:

Infographic FFMHang out in the grocery store. Many food retailers are providing more convenient, at home meal preparation stations, with a recipe card and all the needed ingredients at the point of the demonstration. One of the most delicious meals I never planned to make, came from watching and tasting a cooking demonstration at a local Publix. I called my sister and her daughter and stopped by her house on my way home to make broccoli cheese stuffed chicken with peach cranberry casserole. An unplanned event that was memorable, delicious, and social.

• Try an at home meal delivery kit. Many like HelloFresh have free trial offers to get you back in the kitchen. Invite a few friends or neighbors over to get them in on the kitchen action and to share in the delicious meals.

• Start a supper club; just like a book club, but with better food.

Sharing meals is more enjoyable than dining alone, and cooking costs less than dining out. So, for family meals month, make some new friends, meet a new neighbor, or bring old friends together to share a meal, a laugh, and good nutrition.

Visit Chris Rosenbloom’s website to learn more about healthy aging and ask a question about food and fitness. Her new book, along with co-author, Bob Murray, Food and Fitness After 50 is available for pre-order at Amazon.




Celebrating 4th of July..Country Style

It is interesting living in rural Georgia…for one thing, in Hart County, Georgia they don’t celebrate the 4th of July…they celebrate the “Pre-4th” complete with fireworks on the lake and festival on the town square the weekend before the 4th. At this year’s festival there was the usual foods…hot dogs, BBQ, snow cones, etc, but one booth went all out selling fried Oreos! So, when my family descended on our rural lake home for the real 4th of July (12 family members) I was determined to keep things a little bit healthier with no fried candy bars, fried chicken, or fried Oreos in sight.

We kept plenty of fruit on hand and I’ve learned that kids and adults will eat fruit (1) when it is cut into hand-size pieces and, (2) when there aren’t other snacks around like potato chips. Watermelon makes not only a good snack but the kids have fun with the rinds making funny faces (see my nephew, Reiss, for proof). We also had plenty of grapes (although I think about half ended up in the lake as projectiles aimed at those lounging in the lake), fresh Georgia peaches, and apple slices. On the veggie side, the baby carrots are always a hit even if the kids drench them in Ranch dressing (the fat in the dressing does help in the absorption of the healthy compounds in the carrots!).

The other thing we do is lots of organized activities….we held the annual one-mile fun run (see above) and while not everyone got out of bed (you know who you are) we had a good turn-out complete with prizes for first, second, and last place finishers. We even had a baby stroller division this year. My brother-in-law also organized activities like a fishing tournament and a swimming competition to keep everyone active and engaged.

Posting the daily menu helps keep everyone interested in meal time, even if “Uncle Rob’s famous BBQ Chicken” is just plain old grilled chicken with bottled BBQ sauce…it is all in the name and the presentation! We didn’t always eat healthy, but when we had pizza we stuck to cheese and mushroom (only one pepperoni pizza) and served a big green salad loaded with local tomatoes and cucumbers.

Having the 4th of July in the country is a different experience than city celebration…fireworks over the lake on the dock instead of driving to a crowded public display, but having family fun in the country can’t be beat.