Another holiday season has come and gone and I hope everyone enjoyed that time with family and friends as much as I did. With the coming of the New Year, many people choose to make a resolution – to do something different in their life that will benefit them down the road. This is a tradition that has been present since ancient times.
Here are some resolution suggestions that can help promote a healthy lifestyle for you and your children in this coming year, and for years beyond.
1. Eat Healthy, Feel Better
One common resolution is to eat healthier – a great goal with many benefits. Parents often ask me about simple ways they can make changes in their diet.
One of the easiest is to eliminate those empty calories – in particular, the ones you drink. Stop buying soda for example (even diet soda is not very healthy for you), and limit the amount of juice and other flavored drinks your children consume. If your child eats a healthy diet with plenty of different fruits and vegetables, they don’t need to drink juice to get the benefits of the vitamins and minerals juice contains.
Consider changing from whole or 2 percent milk to skim milk, but ask your pediatrician first if that change is appropriate for your growing child.
Another easy change is to eat out less often. Eating out may be more convenient, but most people eat less healthy food and larger quantities of food when they dine out than when they prepare it themselves. Try substituting fruits/vegetables at snack times instead of other prepared snack foods.
And if you are still having trouble making changes in your diet, I recommend setting up an appointment with a registered dietician to discuss meal planning and proper portion sizes.
2. Get Moving
Another good resolution is to get more exercise. I recommend setting goals here because it is very easy to overdo it. If exercise will be a big change in your lifestyle, start slowly at first and set goals that are reasonable to avoid getting discouraged.
Set a goal of exercising two or three times in a week, for example, and progress from there. Activities that involve friends and/or the whole family have the best chance for sustained success – there is strength in numbers.
And remember, children will model their behavior after their parents, so if you want them to get more exercise, it will work best if you get more exercise yourself. Then, everyone benefits! Pick something that looks fun or that everyone will enjoy and give it a try.
3. Make Family Time a Priority
Make it a point to spend time together as a family. It is very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind of our busy lives, so set aside some time each week to unwind and catch up and to just enjoy doing something together. This may even go along with the resolution of getting more exercise, or sitting down to a healthy meal that everyone helped prepare. Game night is another great idea. It is important that we don’t neglect our mental well-being, as well!
4. Kick the Smokey Habit
And one of the best resolutions you can make this year if you are a smoker – quit smoking! Besides the benefits to your own health and your wallet by quitting the habit, quitting smoking is a huge benefit to your children, as well.
Did you know that secondhand smoke is a known cause of low birth weight, and it contributes to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), asthma, bronchitis, ear infections and behavior problems like ADHD? Even if you only smoke outside, your children are still being exposed to the effects of secondhand smoke. If you are interested in quitting and need some help, contact your physician, or visit the South Dakota quit-line website for some helpful information and resources.
I wish you all a very happy and healthy new year!