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Take 12 Steps for Health

Take 12 Calendar


October 2014

STEP 10: Eat Better, Eat Together

Preparing food and eating together at home not only encourages healthy conversation, it also promotes healthful eating.

Save Money on Groceries

  1. Buy Produce in Season. Check the food section in your newspaper or your grocery store’s circular online to find the best seasonal produce buys for the week Food in season is usually priced to sell. Also, shop your local farmers market for great deals on local produce.
  2. Use Sales and Coupons. Planning meals around sale items can lower your grocery bills, especially if you also use coupons. Sunday newspapers are full of coupons and sales circulars to get you started. Use your freezer to store sale items that can be used at a later date.
  3. Waste Not, Want Not. Before you toss perishable food into your grocery cart, think about exactly how you'll use it. Using leftover vegetables, poultry, or meat in soups, stews, salads, and casseroles minimizes cost and demonstrates your creativity in the kitchen. You can also eat leftovers for breakfast or take them with you for lunch.
  4. Go Generic. Consider buying store brands instead of pricier national brands. Many grocery companies buy national-brand products made to their specifications and simply put their own label on the products.
  5. Buy Pre-packaged only if You Need It. Buying pre-packaged, pre-sliced or pre-washed produce may save you time in the kitchen, but it will cost you more money at the grocery store unless you have a coupon or the item is on sale. Processed convenience items like cookies, chips and soda can also be pricey. Consider saving money and boosting nutrition by passing up the aisles with processed foods.
  6. Buy and Cook In Bulk. Joining a bulk shopping club like Sam's, Costco, or BJ's can be cost-effective if you frequent the club regularly. Bulk purchases can be a great way to save money -- as long as they get used. You might also look in your community for shopping cooperatives that sell food in bulk at a substantial savings.
  7. Save on Protein Foods. When possible, substitute inexpensive vegetarian sources such as beans, eggs, and tofu for more expensive meat, fish or poultry. Eat vegetarian once a week or more to increase your consumption of healthy plant foods while saving money. Eggs are an excellent, inexpensive source of protein that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
  8. Plant a Garden. For benefits that go beyond cost savings, plant your own produce. There's nothing better than a summer-fresh tomato from the garden. Tomatoes even grow well in containers if you don't have space for a garden, and some neighborhoods offer community gardening spaces.

Source: webmd.com

Family Dinner Diversion

It’s hard enough getting a healthful meal on the table, and engaging the whole family in meaningful conversation can be another tall order. Here are some ideas on how to get everyone involved for an enjoyable experience.

Before dinner even begins, get the kids involved in preparing the food. Let them pick out the recipe, use the measuring spoons or assemble food items. Talk about how nutritious the food is and where it comes from. Kids will feel a sense of accomplishment by helping to create the family dinner.

Make dinner mysterious, with a special food version of the game “I Spy.” The spy looks for something on the table of a certain color (“I spy something green…”) or other attribute (“I spy something sweet…), and everyone else at the table tries to guess what it is. The one who guesses correctly becomes the next spy.

Lastly, try dinner with the dictionary. One night a week before dinner, each member of the family selects one new word out of the dictionary and marks it with a little sticky note. An adult reads each word and its definition, and then go around the table taking turns using the new word in a sentence. The sillier the sentence, the better!

Source: Harris, K. A. (2013, September 24). Making Dinner Time Fun Time. The Power of Family Meals.

Kids Who Eat Well, Learn Better

Parents and educators want kids primed to learn. That’s enough incentive for all adults to come together to ensure all kids have in-school access to nutritious foods and beverages – particularly since many children consume half of their calories at school.

Research shows that children who skip breakfast or who do not have access to nutritious meals are at an academic disadvantage. Hungry or malnourished children tend to have lower levels of alertness, attention and memory, and they struggle with problem solving and mathematical skills. Yet, a hard reality in this country is many students don’t have daily access to nutritious meals at home. In fact, the USDA found that during 2011, children in 3.9 million U.S. households did not always have adequate access to nutritious meals and 16.7 million children lived in households where nutritious food wasn’t always available.

Fortunately, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and the corresponding USDA updates to school meal nutrition standards, which took effect during the 2012-2013 school year, further improve the impact of school meals by requiring schools to offer kids fruits and vegetables every day, low-fat and non-fat dairy products and more whole-grains. The goal is to raise academic achievement by ensuring all students have access to nutritious meals at school and teaching them why a healthful diet is important

Source: Action for Healthy Kids (2013). The Learning Connection: What You Need to Know to Ensure Your Kids are Healthy and Ready to Learn.

Step Up!

  • KIDS: Eat three meals a day, especially breakfast, with two healthful snacks, and water or milk to drink.
  • TEENS: With a parent’s permission, choose a recipe and make the family meal for a night. Ensure that it is healthful and balanced.
  • ADULTS: Be a positive role model by limiting empty calorie drinks, like soda, and emphasizing fruits and vegetables at meals and snack time.



Take 12 Steps to Family Health

The Take 12 program is free and anyone can participate at any time. This program is designed to:

  • Help you accomplish healthy goals each month, with tips to keep you going for the duration.
  • Give you access to information - free workshops are available each month on different healthy topics and bulletin boards loaded with information are posted at all the RECenters.
  • Provide an opportunity for you to experience fitness and wellness programs offered across Fairfax County.
  • Empower you to make important lifestyle changes... you can do it!
  • Plus, sign-up to receive the monthly e-newsletter, packed with recipes and healthy tips, upcoming events, and opportunities to achieve your Take 12 goals!
2014 Stress Assessment

Energy, Stress and Fatigue Assessment
With Dr. Ben Glassman

Tuesday, October 21, 6 - 8 p.m.
Providence RECenter and

Tuesday, October 28, 5 - 8 p.m.
Audrey Moore RECenter

Download Flyer

2015 Healthy Strides Community 5k/10K, Burke Lake Park, April 25, 2015

2015 Healthy Strides Community 5K/10K
Burke Lake Park, April 25, 2015, 7:30 a.m.
7315 Ox Road, Fairfax Station, VA 22039

We are seeking support from local businesses and organizations for Take 12! Steps for Community Health in 2015. Our participants are the same people your business is looking to attract. Take advantage of this opportunity.



Take 12 Steps for Family Health in 2014 Calendar
Download Calendar

12 Months, 12 healthy goals. Don't miss out on this year's great family wellness opportunities in the Fairfax County community! The calendar contains fitness and wellness tips, ways to improve your nutritional habits, and better health ideas for kids, teens and adults. Also, the calendar contains coupons to use throughout the year. STEP UP to better health!


Healthy Workshops and Events are always being added!
Check our events calendar often for great opportunities in the community.

All events are free (unless indicated with a "$") and require advanced registration.
To register, please email Take12@fairfaxcounty.gov.


We are looking for people who have used the Take 12 program and found better health as a result of their participation. We are also looking for any kind of feedback about the program - the calendar, events, workshops, tips, articles - anything that you want to tell us, we're listening! Email us at Take12@fairfaxcounty.gov.


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Email: Take12@fairfaxcounty.gov
Phone: 703-324-8423

Mailing Address:
Fairfax County Park Authority
Attn: Take 12 Program
12055 Government Center Pkwy, Suite 425
Fairfax, VA 22035-1118

All content within www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/rec/take12/ is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. Always consult your doctor if you are concerned about your health. Always consult your physician or health care provider before taking any new medication, beginning any program of exercise, or following any health or wellness advice contained herein.

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