Making New Year’s resolutions as a family

Try these tips as a family to make healthy resolutions that last.

At the beginning of a new year, we all seem to make resolutions to change some things in our lives to better ourselves. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to stick to our resolutions, especially if we lack the support system to keep us on track with our goals. How many of your New Year resolutions are you keeping up with?

What if, this year, we take a different approach and make New Year’s resolutions as a family? This offers a built-in support system since the whole family is accountable to each other. Making resolutions you can stick to as a family may be a critical factor in creating lasting changes. You can help support each other while everyone works toward becoming a happier, healthier, more united family unit. 

Ideas for New Year’s resolutions to make as a family:

  • Be active together. Physical activity is an important contributor to our overall health, so why not make it a priority as a family? Playing yard games with your kids, going on a family hike, roller-skating, or going on a family bike ride are great ways to be physically active while bonding as a family. In the winter, bundle up and play outside in the snow. Build a snowman, go cross-country skiing or better yet, go sledding. Climbing those big hills can be a great workout, followed by that great reward of flying down the hill on a sled and laughing with your loved ones. Consider a family membership at a local gym or YMCA where you can all have a place to go and workout together. This can be helpful on days when the weather is bad. The more time you spend moving, the healthier your family will be in the end. For more ideas on how to get more active as a family visit the American Heart Association website.
  • Try new recipes together. Even the youngest members of your family can do something to help out in the kitchen. Kids who are involved in selecting ingredients and helping their parents prepare meals are more likely to try new foods. Cooking dinner together can be an adventure, especially if you make an effort to try unusual ingredients and find new ways to cook your favorite dishes. Trying new recipes could include implementing more fruits, vegetables and whole grains into your family meals as well as using healthier cooking techniques, such as baking, broiling and steaming instead of frying. For more ideas and tips to help you create a healthier eating style that meets your family’s needs and improves your health, check out the MyPlate website. Preparing and eating meals together as a family provides a great opportunity to reconnect with each other after a long day at work and school.
  • Have healthy snacks in the house. It can be easy to reach for crackers or cookies when you’re looking for an afternoon snack, but eating fruits and vegetables for snacks is much better for your body. As soon as you get home from the store, wash and slice vegetables and fruits such as cucumbers, carrot, sweet peppers, apples, grapes and pineapple. Then put these foods into snack-sized bags and stick them in the refrigerator. When snack time rolls around, you’ll be all set to grab something healthy to munch on. As a family, you could even make the decision to banish processed snack foods from the house altogether in efforts to remove those unhealthy temptations and make your only snack options healthy ones. 
  • Limit sugary drinks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sugary drinks are major contributors of added sugars in the American diet and are associated with weight gain/obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay/cavities. This not only affects your family’s health status but also your financial status as it can cause potentially higher costs from more frequent doctor and dentist appointments. Examples of sugary drinks are regular soda (not diet), fruit juice, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened waters and coffee and tea beverages with added sugars. One small step toward limiting sugary drinks could be to decide, as a family, to only drink a certain amount of sugary drink(s) on a specific number of day(s) of the week. Setting a family goal to limit intake of sugary drinks can help the whole family maintain a healthy weight and promote a healthy future.
  • Drink more water and milk. The healthiest drink choices are water and milk. Water is by far the most natural drink for your family, as your body is made of mostly water and it hydrates you without the extra calories. Milk is also an important drink, especially for the children in your home, since their bodies need calcium in addition to physical activity to build strong bones. A suggestion for everyone in the family to increase their water intake could be to try infusing it with fruit, vegetable or herb flavors the family likes. Examples include sliced citrus fruits or zest (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit), fresh mint, sliced cucumber or berries. As a family, you could even keep a “goal chart” on the refrigerator to keep track of each family member’s daily intake of water.

Start out by setting small goals as a family; this is the key to making healthy changes that will last. The ideas suggested in this article are great goals, but it is up to you and your family to decide how to go about achieving these goals to make your family healthier this year. Creating common goals can help families bond and really challenge each other. Tackle the new year as a family and reap the rewards of built-in teamwork!

These tips are meant to provide general recommendations on how to incorporate healthier options into your life. If you would like to learn more about healthy eating and wellness, visit Michigan State University Extension. MSU Extension offers various educational programs for adults, families and children that focus on lifestyle changes to promote healthy eating and wellness. 

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