Family Reunions the Healthy Living Way

three happy women take a selfie

Whether it’s your first family reunion or your 50th, getting the whole family together is likely to involve food, activities, and lots and lots of family stories.

Family reunions are a time to reminisce about the old days and create new traditions, a chance to reconnect with family members, and to meet new ones. If you’re planning or attending a family reunion this summer, make healthy living a part of the activities for young and old alike.

Choose a healthier menu

This year, adapt some family recipes to incorporate ingredients that are lower in fat, salt, and calories.

You’ll be teaching a new generation to love a healthier version of your family’s treasured favorites. At the same time, you’ll be helping the older folks who may have high blood pressure, diabetes, extra weight, or other conditions that require special attention to eating healthy.

Follow food safety tips

Food spoils quicker in warmer temperatures. Make sure you follow safety tips like these from the US Department of Agriculture:

  • Wash hands, utensils, containers, and work surfaces before handling food to prevent harmful bacteria from spreading.
  • Cook food the same day you plan to serve it, not in advance, to give bacteria less time to grow. Cool food quickly by spreading it out in shallow containers and refrigerating.
  • Keep mayonnaise-based foods cold.
  • Wash melons and tomatoes before cutting, in case bacteria are present on the rind or peel. Refrigerate the cut pieces immediately.
  • Throw out leftovers that have been sitting out for more than 1 hour. Store the rest in a cooler with ice. If all the ice has melted, throw away the food. 

Get folks moving

Include activities in the reunion schedule that incorporate fun and exercise – such as walking, hiking, dancing, tennis, golf, or bowling. Along with eating well, remaining active can help lower the risk for conditions like obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

The American Cancer Society recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity (such as brisk walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity (makes your heart beat faster, and makes you sweat) each week, preferably spread throughout the week. But every little bit helps. Even if it’s less than the recommended amount, some exercise provides more health benefits than no exercise.

Share health history

Use the reunion as a time to talk about family health information. Families often share genes, habits, and environments, which may affect their risk for chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. If you know a health problem runs in your family, you may be able take steps to reduce your risk. You can’t change your genes, but you can change behaviors that affect your health such as smoking, inactivity, and poor eating habits.

Share any new information with your doctor to find out whether you should start cancer screening earlier or get tested more often. Most cancer screening tests find cancer early, when it is easier to treat, but a few tests lead to treatments that prevent cancer.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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