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Get Moving - Get Healthy NJ

Photo: Group of Adults Biking.

The holidays are a great time for families to share meals and conversation. But why stop there? The new Get Moving - Get Healthy NJ (GMGH) website,, offers tips for improving and enjoying family meals. Recent research shows eating family meals has many benefits.

"Not only do family members tend to eat more nutritional foods when they eat together," said Kathleen Morgan, Chair of the Department of Family and Community Health Sciences Sciences, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, "but increasing evidence shows that teens that regularly eat meals with their family are much less likely to engage in addictive behaviors, such as smoking, drinking alcohol or taking drugs." Research also shows that families that eat together take in more nutrients, eat more vegetables and consume less fat and soda. When families share a meal, they share conversation, too.

The GMGH website has information and resources on healthy eating, physical activity, the health benefits of a healthy lifestyle, and more. These are some ideas found on the website for family meals:

  • Aim for eating at least one meal together each day. Today's busy families find it hard to take time to eat together. However, the family meal does not have to be a dinner; it can be breakfast or another meal that fits best in your family schedule. It could also be a healthy meal on the road or picnic at the soccer field.
  • Establish a regular meal schedule, including time for breakfast.
  • Provide healthful foods and beverages at each meal, including vegetables, fruits, dairy and whole grains. When introducing new foods, try one at a time and serve it with other well-liked foods.
  • Mealtime is a good time to teach civilized behaviors, so try to follow rules about staying seated, passing items instead of grabbing at them, putting napkins on laps, and not chewing with your mouth full. Use only gently reminders. Mealtime should be a time to feel nurtured, together, connected and part of the family.
  • Be a good role model. Many families have a "one bite" rule, meaning everyone has to take one bite of the food to see if they like it.

The website is part of a larger GMGH initiative to improve the health of NJ families and individuals. Rutgers Cooperative Extension, part of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, along with numerous partners developed this website. The entire GMGH project includes educational programs in schools and in the community, training for professionals, a walking challenge to launch in January and a public marketing campaign.

For more information, visit or contact your local Rutgers Cooperative Extension office.

  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences