The start of a new year commonly marks the start of new goals or lifestyle changes for many individuals and families. In some cases, the new year marks a new diet or exercise plan. Unfortunately, many people get burned out quickly because these diets or exercise plans are too rigid and focus on taking away things from their lifestyle. This year instead of focusing on what to take away from your lifestyle, let’s focus on what can be added to create a healthier lifestyle for you and your family.
One way to add to a healthy lifestyle is by starting the day off with a nutritious breakfast. It has been proven that children who eat breakfast are typically more alert, have fewer behavioral problems, and are better able to maintain a healthy weight. When making a nutritious breakfast for your family, try to include at least three of the five food groups from MyPlate. These food groups are fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and protein.
Another change or something fun to add to your family’s daily activities could be cooking a meal and eating together. By cooking together, you are able to spend quality time with each other while teaching and learning about different foods as well as how to prepare nutritious and delicious meals. Research has also shown that families that take time to eat a meal together typically have a stronger bond.
Physical activity is important during all stages of life, but especially during childhood because it promotes proper growth and development of both your child’s mind and body. It is recommended that children should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day to help build strong muscles and bones, maintain a healthy weight, and increase their critical thinking skills.
To increase your child’s physical activity, try making exercise and movement an enjoyable part of your family’s daily activities. A few ideas could be going on walks or bike rides together, playing a sport like basketball or baseball, having dance parties, or asking your child to help with chores around the house such as watering the plants or sweeping the kitchen. Something really important to keep in mind is to make physical activity fun and something that your family will want to do daily rather than having physical activity feel like a chore or something that they have to do.
Parents play a special role in the lives of their children by being an important role model for how they should act and the types of activities they should participate in. This year, a great goal would be to include more physical activity into your daily life or try new recipes that you think the whole family will enjoy. As you model to your children that it is fun to try new things, to move your body more in healthy way, and try to include more nutritious foods in your daily life, your children will see that and be more likely to follow your lead and continue these healthy activities as they grow up.
Written by Sarah Michaels – University of Idaho Dietetic Student (2020)
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (2017). During Kids Eat Right Month Send Children Back to School with Nutrition Knowledge. Retrieved from https://www.eatrightpro.org/media/press-releases/kids-eat-right-month/during-kids-eat-right-month-send-children-back-to-school-with-nutrition-knowledge
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (2019). Making Time to Eat Together Promotes Healthful Eating Habits. Retrieved from https://www.eatrightpro.org/media/press-releases/kids-eat-right-month/family-dining
Ryan, M. (2020). Easy Ways to Encourage Your Kids to Get Active. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Retrieved from https://www.eatright.org/fitness/exercise/family-activities/easy-ways-to-encourage-your-kids-to-get-active