The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that less than 1 in 10 adults and adolescents consume enough fruits and vegetables. Processed foods such as fast food and sugary drinks add unnecessary sugars, salt, and saturated fats increasing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and decreased brain function.

Making time for healthy meals together is so important. Jill Anderson from the Harvard School of Education reports family mealtime decreases the risk of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, tobacco use, teen pregnancy, and improves self-esteem. The American Heart Association reports several benefits to family mealtime as well, including decreased behavior problems in young children, improved academic success, and improved healthier eating habits.

To improve family mealtime, the American Heart Association suggests planning meals ahead. Look at schedules for the week and plan certain meals for certain days depending on the schedule. Start with one or two protein options, a whole chicken and a few pounds of ground turkey can be made into so many options. Once cooked, dinner prep is that much easier. For vegetarian options start with quinoa or beans as a base to your meal planning. Consider making freezer meals ahead of time that can easily be made in a crock pot, instant pot or thrown in the oven.

Check out the Nutrition Guide on Virgin Pulse for healthy meals to meet your needs.

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