The New Year is here, and it’s a great time to make a resolution to get healthy. In order to stick to that New Year’s resolution, be specific about what changes to make. This can help your family execute a plan to ensure positive outcomes. Here are some specific changes that you as a parent can implement to bring about real change for your family’s health this year. I recommend choosing as many of these as you think are realistic to do in your household. Even one real change is better than a handful of half attempts that fail. Good luck!
Easy New Year Health Swaps for the Family:
- Replace the refined grains with whole grains. This advice might sound like a broken record, but based on the wide range of clientele I work with, this healthy change is not actually happening in real families. Whole grains maintain the natural fiber, vitamins and minerals that have been stripped from their refined counterparts. Whole grains include whole grain bread, oatmeal, whole grain pancakes, whole grain pasta, brown rice, quinoa, millet, and whole grain cereals. Refined grains are the “white” carbs, such as white bread, white pasta, and the wide variety of processed foods that are made from refined flours. Sometimes it is harder for parents to make this change than it is for the kids, since our generation was raised on refined flours. Trust me, you will get used to it and soon the refined stuff will taste bland and leave you hungry an hour or so after eating. Because whole grains have fiber, they take longer to digest (making you full sooner and longer). Whole grain fiber also plays an important role in binding and excreting fat, both in digestion and circulating lipids in the bloodstream. From the very beginning of feeding your kids as infants and toddlers, remember- kids do not need “kid food”, and they can enjoy whole grain pancakes and whole grain pasta just as much as the white stuff. Be a good example for your kids.
- Replace snack foods with fruits or vegetables. And while you’re at it, limit snacks to two per day (one mid-morning or before bed, and one mid-afternoon). This might be the most effective change you can make if you or your family members are big snackers and grazers. Your job is to make sure there are always plenty of fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables available to your kids. When it comes to produce, quality matters. Kids will more readily accept things that look and taste fresh, so choose wisely. Local and organic produce is usually more fresh and flavorful than something that may have traveled half way around the world and then sat frozen in a warehouse for months. Enforce this change by telling the kids what their snack options are, then encouraging them to go play or do homework before the next meal (or bedtime).
- Limit eating out to once per week or less. Although it is possible to eat healthy when eating out, often it is easier to make unhealthy choices and overeat when eating at restaurants. It may be even more difficult for your kids to eat healthy when eating out as many kids’ menus are limited to foods high in fat and sodium and low in fiber. This may be a challenge for the busy parent who is not used to cooking. If you choose this resolution, be prepared to plan, grocery shop, and cook. Cut corners by using time-saving and healthy cooking methods such as the slow-cooker and stir-frying lean meats and veggies. It may be a difficult change to implement, but it will be very rewarding from a health perspective (and on your budget).
Check the blog next week for more healthy New Year’s resolutions for your family!