By Alexia Hall, registered dietitian at CHOC Children’s
At CHOC, we view nutrition as a cornerstone of health, healing and well-being. In response to a staggering number of overweight children in our community, we’ve implemented a new nutrition philosophy. It includes reducing added sugars, reducing pre-packaged items, increasing freshly prepared items, and providing a greater variety of fruits and vegetables.
We know that many families in our community have made New Year’s resolutions to make health a priority- and we want to support you! It’s easy to make resolutions each year and plan to kick start the year on a healthy note, but it can be hard to stick to them even if you have the best intentions.
How can you become successful and follow through on your goals? Try these 4 essential tips to follow through on your own resolutions:
- Simplify your goals
- Manage your thoughts
- Manage your environment
- Manage your biology
- Simplify Your Goals:
Simplify and fine-tune your goals. Choose one or two things to focus on and add others as you master each one. For example, instead of a broad goal such as “I will increase my family’s vegetable intake,” be more specific by stating “I will start by offering 2 one-half cup servings of vegetables every day for 30 days.” Put your planning skills to work by writing down a list of vegetables you like and placing two on your planner every day. Follow up by putting those on your grocery list. If you don’t succeed, analyze why. Maybe time or taste is an issue. If so, take advantage of the pre-cut items in the grocery store. Maybe you don’t like the taste. Try new seasonings, recipes and ideas. Never give up and seek daily positive inspiration along the way.
- Manage Your Thoughts:
To impact the way you think, you must manage what you hear and read. Remind your children that proper nutrition is essential to fuel their growing bodies. It can be as simple as choosing to read the Facebook posts on healthy items and skimming by the ones that are not. Pay attention to the messages that are going on around you and your children, focusing on the ones that will help you fulfill your goals.
Your internal messages may be even more important that the messages around you. Telling yourself positive thoughts, such as you are beautiful, smart, kind, and are worth it, will help you to be successful. There are even new apps that will text daily positive thoughts – surround yourself with them!
- Manage Your Environment:
Enlist the help of those around you. Explain what you are doing and ask that your family and friends join with you. Realize that what may work for one family member, may not work for another and be flexible. Clear your home of the food that will trip you up and fill the refrigerator with fresh whole food that is convenient and ready-to-go. Plan your meals, snacks and lunches in advance. It is also very important to plan out your day for success. Here are some examples:
- Think about time crunches in your day that can create opportunities to break your resolve. For example, if you find yourself exhausted and grumpy once arriving home from a full day of work, you will likely find it difficult to summon energy to cook a healthy dinner. Planning a light snack such as almonds for the car ride home can go a long way in strengthening that resolve.
- If you are trying to build a workout into a day with the kids, plan a beach or park outing and bring the Frisbee or a ball.
- Make shopping for healthy food part of a fun family weekend by visiting farmers markets or fun food destinations such as apple picking or fruit farms.
- Proper amounts of rest and fun are critical to good decision making, so aim to be kind to yourself first.
- Manage Your Biology:
Eating unhealthy food creates more craving for unhealthy food, a cycle that is difficult to break. Scientists have been uncovering information for some time that shows sugar is addictive. Eating large amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables along with a low sugar diet and healthy plant based fats can create a healthy bowel environment. New evidence is showing that a healthy set of gut bacteria can positively affect your emotions, further controlling the choices you make. A person who feels physically and mentally well is more apt to make positive lifestyle choices.
Studies show it can take at least 30 days to instill a change in habit, so hang in there even if it is challenging to keep your resolution. The benefits will come and it will get easier! Give your family the best physical and mental environment by eating foods that will give you a sense of well-being and increased energy to stick firm to your health resolutions.
If you have any concerns related to your child’s nutritional intake or eating habits, speak to your child’s pediatrician. They may refer you to a pediatric nutrition expert for further consultation.
- At home before a trip, set the stage by offering some of the foods you might experience on your upcoming travels.
- Eating healthy can be confusing with all the choices available in your grocery store. Learning how to read a food label is key to making the best choices.
- Spring is not simply a good opportunity for traditional spring cleaning, but also an ideal time to make positive changes to your eating habits.