From the January 2016 issue

Healthy New Year’s Resolutions for You and Your Family

A registered dietitian from Children's Hospital of Michigan shares her advice on how families can make small healthy changes to their lifestyles in 2016.

With the New Year comes a chance for a fresh start. And while resolutions you’ve set in the past may have fallen to the wayside more quickly than you’d like to admit, 2016 opens the door for your family to restart with a major goal: getting healthy.

“I think that’s a great time to just kind of kick-start the year in a healthy way,” says Colleen Kokx, a registered dietitian with the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Metabolic Clinic.

Kokx offers her top tips for making some small lifestyle changes as a family that can have a big impact in 2016 and beyond – plus how to stick to those objectives long-term.

Shop with the kids. “I usually tell a lot of my patients, whenever you go to the grocery store, try wherever you go (to) let the kids pick out one new fruit or vegetable,” Kokx says. This is especially great for picky eaters because they can have a say in what they’re going to eat. This way, the kids get a healthy fruit or vegetable in their diet, she says, and it opens them up to being more adventurous eaters. (Plus, it can be a fun bonding experience!).

Make breakfast a priority. Despite how busy some mornings can be, breakfast should always be a part of the routine. “It’s called ‘breakfast’ for a reason,” Kokx says. “You’re breaking your body’s fast.” When you eat breakfast, it’s a kick-start for the day, but also helps you to consume less calories throughout the day and cut back on mindless eating. To encourage this, Kokx suggests making breakfast a game called “breakfast patrol.” Everybody has to eat breakfast and check to ensure other family members have eaten, too (including mom and dad). Allow your kids to call you out if you haven’t eaten!

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Eat together. With crazy schedules, it’s tough to sit down to a meal together, but it’s something Kokx says families should try to get back to even if it’s just a few times a week. “I think people underestimate the importance of eating together and making it an event,” she says. Talk, share and connect. Kokx encourages families to involve kids in the meal prep, too.

Making the resolution last

Making a point to establish healthy habits on Jan. 1, 2016 is one thing. Keeping the momentum throughout the year? That’s a whole different ball game.

One trick to try is to mark check-in dates in the family calendar or planner on the first of the year, Kokx says. She suggests flipping to a date in each future month and writing down a note to check on your family’s progress with the resolution. “It can even be part of your dinner conversation, so it’s always a point of topic,” she says.

The key is to stick with these goals together. Kids are like sponges, Kokx says. “They soak up whatever their parents are doing.” Which means if mom and dad want the kids to keep the drive, they need to display that commitment, as well.

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