Family Nutrition Tips for the New Year

For most people, the motivation of continuing their New Year’s resolution year-round is great through February but falls off after that. With all the marketing ads we encounter from billboards to television to digital media, the concept of eating healthy can seem confusing and downright daunting. It looks like there is a new diet or superfood that hits the public weekly with claims of increased vitality and health. Maybe you tried a few; maybe you haven’t. The truth is, eating healthy is not that difficult at all once you know the basics. Here are a few nutrition tips to help you stay on track throughout the year and hit that New Year’s resolution. 

1. Eat whole foods – No, that does not mean “eat the whole pizza!” Whole foods have been processed or refined as little as possible and are free from additives. This mostly includes food that does not come in a package (for example, fruits and vegetables). However, there are exceptions: meat, eggs, beans, and grains like rice are sold in a package, but are also whole foods. 

2. Eat plant-based – Now, this one is often overlooked, as eating vegetarian or vegan (but animal-derived) foods are rich in protein, B vitamins, zinc, and iron. However, red and processed meats are high in saturated fats and sodium and therefore should be limited. Aim to include lean meats like poultry and fish, which have been linked to lowered health risks. Plus, frozen produce is just as nutritious as fresh, so stock up! 

3. Follow an 80/20 rule – This rule applies on multiple levels: First, you can fill your plate until it is only 80% full, leaving 20% clear to avoid overeating. Dinner plates are almost a third larger than they were in the ’60s! Second, you should make 80% of your plate plant-based, which will help you with the next tip! Third, you can use the 80/20 rule to stay on track throughout the day by making 80% of what you eat healthy options and reserving 20% as a treat. Finally, you can’t out-exercise a non-nutritious diet: Good health is 80% what you eat and 20% how you move. 

4. Get moving – As stated above, 20% is about exercise. Even though it is only 20%, it is still important. If you are not ready to carve out an hour to go to the gym or attend a fitness class, then take advantage of the many opportunities for exercise throughout the day. Find the furthest parking spot from the door, take the stairs, walk to the furthest bathroom at work, or get up once an hour to run in place or do some squats. Aim to move at least 10 minutes at a time. Every bit counts!

5. Get the kids involved – Picky eater? No problem! Take them shopping and let them help you pick out fresh produce. Give them age-appropriate tasks to help prepare meals. Children are more inclined to try food if they had a hand in making it. Sometimes they need to try a food over 20 times, maybe even prepared in different ways, before taking to it. It always helps to add a new food with familiar food as well. 

Contributed by Carrie Claiborne

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