It’s time for a new approach to better family health! Grab your family and try out these simple, month-by-month challenges – perfect for establishing healthy eating habits. I’ve even included a handy printable flyer that you can print and hang on your refrigerator to help the family stay on track all year long!

Since 45% of people make resolutions, but only 8% actually keep them, re-thinking how we plan to accomplish our health goals is critical. My monthly challenge will allow you to accomplish the 21-day to a habit strategy and keep you focused on taking one new step a month to improve your health.

Don’t forget to check out my new book, The Step Up Diet, filled with great nutritious recipes for living a healthy lifestyle!

Each month we’ll be adding a new article to help you learn more about how to incorporate these habits into your daily life.

 

Jan-01

Eat a piece of fruit every day with breakfast. It can be your choice – apple, banana, melon – but eat it before anything else. It contributes to your daily fiber and vitamin intake, and starts regulating your digestive system as soon as your day begins.

Feb-01

Jump rope for 10 minutes each morning. Yes, you heard me correctly. This is an excellent way to increase your heart rate and get your metabolism going early in the day. You can do this in your garage, or your back yard: I.e., nobody needs to know.

March-01

Limit Soda and Sugary Drinks.  If you don’t have them in the house, your family is a lot less likely to drink them. This is tough for some people who are already “hooked” on the sweet stuff, but breaking away is possible.

April-01

Walk around the block for 15 minutes every day. Even people who engage in other forms of exercise can adopt this one: it’s only going to add to your overall fitness effort. Your walk can happen in the morning, at lunch, or in the evening. Bring your dog, invite your neighbor, or pop in some headphones. It’s just 15 minutes!

May-01

Cook dinner at home every night. If that sounds daunting, buy a fun cookbook! What you cook isn’t as important as the fact that you are cooking, because it has so many advantages over eating out. It will likely save you money, and going to the grocery store can be a family affair with the kids.

June-01

Eat only at mealtime. Make it your family’s priority this June to eat only at meal times such as lunch and dinner, especially since children and adults alike tend to snack in between.

July-01

Eat a piece of fruit in the middle of the afternoon, between lunch and dinner. Our bodies are often deprived of the vitamins we need from fresh fruit and vegetables, so this is an easy way to make sure you get in a serving of fruit each day.

Aug-01

Trade your regular meal plate for a salad-sized one. By reducing the size of our plate we naturally consume less food and reduce our serving size. Just make sure you don’t go back for seconds. One serving of each food at the dinner table is more than enough to fill you up!

Sept-01

Visit a different park every weekend. We have plenty around us in the greater Austin area, and all of them offer different activities: Dog runs, Frisbee golf, swings.

Oct-01

Incorporate vegetables into every lunch and dinner. On top of that, throw in a new vegetable every few days. You don’t need to go to a fancy grocery store, just browse through the produce section and pick up something you’ve never prepared, like kale, rainbow chard, or artichoke. If you need ideas, haul out your trusty cookbook.

Nov-01

Eat fish once a week. Studies have shown that eating fish once or twice a week can help prevent asthma in children, increase brain health, lessen the chance of depression and more.

Dec-01

Pick one day of the week and make it your “vegetarian day”, preparing only fruits and vegetables for that day. This habit comes in especially handy during the holidays, when we all tend to eat too much.

Even if you’re family only accomplishes 20% of these challenges, the over-all health improvement will still be noticeable. Enjoy this year to the fullest by making 2015 your new healthy beginning!

About the Author

Dr. Katalenas

Dr. Katalenas is a pediatrician and owner of The Pediatric Center of Round Rock and the author of the book "The Step Up Diet: From Scratch… The Quality, Quantity, and Timing Solution to Childhood Obesity", a guide to healthy cooking and eating for busy families.