Family dinners can offer more than food: It can be a time to bond 

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Are you a “chow and chat” or a “grab and gulp” family?  It makes a difference: Your household eating style influences the physical and emotional health of each family member. While 60 to 70 percent of folks, including teens, say they sit down together most nights, the majority of people admit they eat with the TV on (always or sometimes), and 5 percent confess to texting or emailing at the table. And many family meals last 20 minutes or less — not enough time to digest all the good things that can come from eating together.

  1. Teens who regularly eat dinner at home with their parents are less likely to be depressed or to smoke tobacco and marijuana, and studies show they’re generally more helpful.
  2. Kids don’t pack on extra pounds if they have regular family dinners — probably because there are healthier nutritional choices available (even if they don’t love veggies yet), and they’re less stressed.
  3. During shared dinners, parents can teach everything from manners to cultural traditions (including food choices). That’s important for improved nutrition and family unity.
  4. If you eat together, maybe you can also get in the habit of cooking together. It’s a great way to expand kids’ food tastes (they like to eat what they cook).

So tonight, evaluate your family meal: If it’s “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle,” “Babette’s Feast” or “My Dinner with Andre” (we don’t think you have to talk that much!), it could be time to rescript.


In case you hadn’t noticed, middle-aged men — think George Clooney (51), Denzel Washington (58) and Jeff Bridges (63) — are all the rage these days. But to stand up under this heavy burden of adoration (it can weigh on sore joints), men of that certain age need to add more protein to their diets.

If guys heading toward the big 6-0 want to keep or build muscle mass, they need to increase the amount of protein they eat — especially after each resistance workout. (You do lift weights, right?) One study found that doubling intake from 21 grams to 42 grams of protein is optimal for building more muscle fibers and keeping a toned physique. (The Institute of Medicine recommends that men ages 19 to 70 and up eat 56 grams of protein a day.)

But no one should get all that protein from fatty meat. Get some from more healthful, skinless poultry and omega-3-rich walnuts, and fish such as salmon and trout. You don’t want extra saturated fat (it clogs arteries, wrinkles skin, ruins your sex life and clouds the brain).

Instead, add an extra dose of protein to your diet from grains and vegetables: A cup of beans has 16 grams of protein; lentils have 12 grams; 1 cup of brown rice has 5 grams; and almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, cashews and pine nuts are all loaded, as are spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, chia, tofu and tempeh (1 cup has 41 grams!). So dig in, and by the time Clooney’s new movie “Tomorrowland” hits theaters in December 2014, you should be looking pretty buff.

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