It’s a New Year – the perpetual time for resolutions.
It’s a New Year – the perpetual time for resolutions – to say goodbye to old habits and adopt new behaviours. Perhaps you have resolved to quit smoking, to “power-down” and limit use of electronics, or to get your family hooked on healthier eating habits.
As a Naturopathic Doctor, I frequently work with families striving to make positive changes for themselves and their children.
Here are 5 easy strategies for making healthy sustainable changes this year:
- Keep it simple – develop an action plan with your kids that focuses on making one positive change at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Once you have chosen to…eat healthier, become more active, or more effectively manage stress, hone in on this goal.
- Be specific and establish an action plan. Together, create a list of 3-5 things that will help your family to reach your goal and post it on the fridge for everyone to see. For example, decreasing refined sugar consumption will help to boost immune function, improve energy and mood, and promote a healthy body weight…all components of good health. Try replacing pop with carbonated water and fruit slices, or using dates (which are naturally sweet) to make tasty treats. Once you have mastered the first task on your list (after ~1-2 weeks), move onto the next.
- Plan ahead or plan to fail. For many parents, the main obstacle to implementing good habits is TIME. Something as simple as creating a grocery list can help save time at the grocery store, and allows one to be more cost-effective in the long run. You may also try using Sunday to plan ahead – mapping out meals for the week, or making large batches of grab and go snacks or meals for when you’re in a hurry is helpful.
- Make it fun. The more enjoyable an activity, the more likely it is that one will stick to the task, and the harder it will be to ‘leave it until tomorrow.’ In our household we pick 2 new recipes to try during the week, so that we look forward to cooking. Kids love being involved in the process, and being given the choice of what to have for dinner (or what vegetable to have as a side). Variety is the spice of life!
- Leave room for imperfection. There is not doubt that making changes is hard, and in fact sometimes “falling off the wagon” so to speak can be a good thing, especially when it shows you how much better your feel when committed to healthier habits. Teaching kids that no one is perfect, and not to get down on themselves if they don’t meet their goals on a particular day has value in itself. Revisiting and revising goals, and getting back on track are the most important thing for success.
Happy New Year from my household to yours! Looking forward to inspiring positive change, helping to build healthier families, and a healthier community in 2015!