UACES Facebook Full bellies, good vibes on the menu for ‘Dining In Day’
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Full bellies, good vibes on the menu for ‘Dining In Day’

By Benjamin Waldrum
For the U of A System Division of Agriculture 
Fast Facts:

    • “Dining In Day” is Dec. 3
    • More than 100,000 participated in last year’s event

LITTLE ROCK — Each year, families across Arkansas gather around the dinner table for Thanksgiving to enjoy a home-cooked meal. With planning, that treasured family time can be a daily event, said Rosemary Rodibaugh, professor-nutrition with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture

The American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, along with the Cooperative Extension Service, is encouraging families to dine in on Thursday, Dec. 3, exactly one week after Thanksgiving. But there’s no need to reheat leftover turkey and mashed potatoes.

“Invite your family and friends, make a menu and head to the grocery store,” said Rodibaugh.

Families can participate in “Dining In Day” by planning a simple, healthy meal to cook and eat at home. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy – just a wholesome meal prepared at home. Something as simple as a home-cooked meal can benefit the whole family.

“Most research suggests that both parents and children value sharing a meal together,” said Rodibaugh. “It offers time to talk and listen to each other. And it’s a great opportunity for parents to be good role models for healthful eating.”

Children and adolescents who share family meals three or more times per week are more likely to be in a normal weight range and have healthier eating habits than those who share fewer than three family meals per week, she said.

Planning, shopping, and eating together as a family fosters better nutrition, improved family communication, and teaches life skills such as meal planning, budgeting, and food prep.

Rodibaugh offered 10 tips for making dining in easy and enjoyable:

    • Make family meals a priority and agree on a schedule.
    • Try to have regular family meals two to three times a week.
    • If dinner doesn’t work, have family breakfasts or snack times.
    • Keep meals simple. Slow-cookers save time in the evening.
    • Double recipes and freeze food for a second meal.
    • Set aside 30 minutes on the weekend for meal planning.
    • Make it fun! Include children in food preparation.
    • Discuss neutral or positive topics at the table.
    • Eliminate distractions like TV and cell phones.
    • Eat slowly, and enjoy time together as a family.

Last year, more than 100,000 people participated in Dining In Day, and organizers are hoping to more than double that number for 2015.  Celebrate starting a new family tradition by taking a selfie and posting it online with the hashtags #healthyfamselfie and #FCSDay.

“This is a great opportunity to strengthen family bonds,” said Rodibaugh.

For more information about meal planning, budgeting, and food preparation and safety, contact your county extension office or visit   

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. 

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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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