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Make Mealtime Family Time For A Healthy Heart

Heart and Stroke Foundat ion of Manitoba (HSFM) nutrition managers are encouraging Manitobans to eat together as a family as part of a heart-healthy lifestyle.

Healthy eating plays a vital role in the prevention of heart disease and stroke. Studies show that children who sit down to eat dinner with their families tend to eat more fruits and vegetables, more fibre, and less saturated and trans fat.

“A heart-healthy lifestyle starts at home. If your children see that healthy eating is a priority in your life, they are more likely to model those choices,” says Christine Houde, PHEc, nutrition manager for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba.

Childhood obesity has tripled over the last 25 years. In Manitoba, 62.4 per cent of adults and 31 per cent of children are overweight or obese. Obesity is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, as well as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer.

“Research has shown that taking time to eat together can provide numerous nutritional and social benefits for families,” says Jennifer Wojcik, RD, nutrition manager for HSFM. “Choosing and preparing meals and snacks based on Canada’s Food Guide will not only teach your child proper nutrition, but will introduce them to basic cooking skills – an ability they’ll need later on in life.”

To help make family mealtime achievable, here are a few things you can do:

Make it fun! Get the kids to join in the cooking – such as build your own pizzas on Friday night.

Give everyone a job such as setting the table or assembling the salad.

Leave a plan on the fridge so the first one home can get supper started.

Try batch cooking. Cook once and freeze the leftovers for an easy meal later on.

Keep your cupboards stocked with healthy foods such as canned fruit and vegetables, canned beans, canned meat and fish, and nuts and seeds.

Be organized and know in advance what you’re going to cook for the week.

Turn off the TV and return phone calls later. Let conversation take centre stage.

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