Healthy Resolutions for the New Year

Healthy Resolutions for the New Year

 Many of us start the New Year with resolutions for our own health and well being.  How many times have you resolved to lose 10 pounds (or more!), start a new exercise program, or change an unhealthy habit?  Behavioral experts tell us that the resolutions we are most likely to keep are small, simple changes that are easily within reach.  This year, as many of us make resolutions for our own health, lets also make a few for that of our children and families.  Here are three simple resolutions that families can make together.

  1. Strive for Five – fruits and vegetables per day, that is.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, and American Dietetic Association all recommend that children and adults get a total of at least five servings of fruit and vegetables per day.  A serving is considered to be one average whole fruit, such as an apple, orange or pear, or a cup of sliced or unsweetened cooked fruit.  Keep fresh fruit handy on the counter for snacks and lunch boxes – winter Clementines in their own easy to peel wrappers are a great option.  Pre-cut carrots, celery, red peppers, and cucumbers will keep in the fridge for a few days, and can be portioned into snack bags or plastic containers for easy additions to packed lunches.  Slices of oranges and apples (dipped in lemon juice to prevent discoloring) can also be kept handy for grab and go snacking.  Swirl applesauce into morning oatmeal or serve with cinnamon as a warming dessert.  Try tomato, minestrone, other vegetable-based soups, or vegetable-heavy stews for a vegetable packed lunch or dinner.  The bonus – additional vitamins can help to boost immunity in the height of cold and flu season.
  2. Get Moving!  The winter months may make us want to hibernate indoors with a cup of cocoa and the remote, but we have to fight that tendency and keep moving to keep bodies healthy and weight in check.  Make a point of getting outside as often as possible for some fresh air and activity.  Family snow shoveling, sledding, or even a snowball fight count as aerobic activity, and try ice skating for a slightly warmer winter activity.  If you are stuck indoors opt for more physical activities before crashing on the couch.  A dance contest, a game of hide and seek, or even a physically active video game are great choices to keep all of our parts moving in the cold months.
  3. A Time and Place for Everything.  After a season of treats and sweets, many of us try to go “cold turkey” and cut out the cookies, candies and cakes completely, only to find ourselves giving in to their silent calls from the furthest corners of the pantries where we have hidden them away.  This is a great time to start practicing moderation in our eating habits.  Start thinking about where these “goodies” belong in your family’s diet, when they can be enjoyed, and how much is okay to have.  Start talking about “once in a while” foods with your kids and they will learn to make better choices for themselves.  Limit sweet desserts to one or two days a week, or parcel out favorite cookies or candies over time and in small amounts.  Forbidding goodies only make them more tempting, while learning to incorporate them in small amounts can help to establish a healthier relationship with such foods. 

 Each of these resolutions can help to start a family on the path to making healthier eating choices, and together they can have a significant impact on the wellness of both children and adults.  Remember, they are family resolutions – everyone has to be a part of the process.  Children who see their parents making healthier choices and sticking to them are more likely to model positive behaviors.  So make the resolution to be a good role model for healthy eating in 2011 and your whole family will benefit!

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