10 Healthy Habits for the New Year

10 Healthy Habits for the New Year

January is often a time for reflection, which affords us an opportunity to think about the things we want to do differently in the coming year. Start the year off right by thinking about what you can do to improve your health and that of your family! Here are 10 healthy habits to practice in the coming year:

  1. Eat one more piece of fruit every day. We should be eating fruit two-to-three times per day, but research shows most Americans don’t eat enough fruit. Frozen fruit counts, too! Canned fruit is an option, but try to choose canned fruit packed in fruit juice rather than syrup.
  2. Add a non-starchy vegetable serving to lunch or dinner. Non-starchy vegetables are low in calories and high in nutrients. Some examples include broccoli, leafy greens, mushrooms, peppers and squash. Ideally, you should eat non-starchy vegetables with lunch and dinner, but Americans tend to skip out on nutritious veggies in both meals.
  3. Drink one more glass of water per day. Drinking more water keeps us hydrated and helps our digestive systems run smoother, among other benefits. Better yet, it is free if you have a good municipal water supply and won’t add to your waistline!
  4. Eat breakfast every day. You’ve probably heard it before, but breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Children who eat breakfast perform better in school and concentrate longer. Adults should set a good example by taking time for breakfast themselves.
  5. Eat two more family meals each week. Children who are used to family meal times tend to perform better in school and are less likely to exhibit risky behaviors as adolescents. Use this opportunity to connect and talk over a shared meal. While dinner may not always happen, breakfast counts, as does a weekend lunch!
  6. Plan out your weekly meals in advance. Planning meals saves time, money and stress.
  7. Eat one plant-based meal per week. Plant-based proteins such as beans or tofu are full of nutrients and lower in calories (not to mention less expensive) than meat. Ever heard of meatless Monday? That is one strategy, though it can really be any day of the week. There’s a plethora of vegetarian recipes available online.
  8. Prepare a meal or healthy snack with your children at least once a month. I’d love to say to do this more often than monthly, but it just may not be realistic for everyone. Children enjoy helping in the kitchen and tasting the fruits of their labor. Children are also more willing to try new foods if they had a hand in preparing them. Check out one of my recent blog posts for tips on cooking with children.
  9. Exercise at least five days a week for 30 minutes at a time. Foster an environment of physical activity in your home so that it becomes a normal way of life for everyone. Exercise can be done as a family, even if it is just turning on the music for a dance party or playing tag in the yard. If you don’t have 30 minutes, break it up into three 10 minute breaks throughout the day.
  10. Make every meal electronics-free. This means no smartphones, tablets, computers or televisions. Even when the family isn’t all together, it is a good rule to have for yourself. Eating without distraction allows us to be more mindful about how much we are eating and allows us to enjoy our food more.  

Rather than trying to tackle the whole list at once, start with one that you think will be easy to fit into your day-to-day life. Once you no longer need to give it much thought, choose another resolution to tackle next.

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