The start of the school year is a time to reflect on habits and start fresh. What works for your family? What gets in the way? Now is the time to make changes to start the school year off on the right foot.
Time is a big obstacle people share with me as a barrier to healthy living. With the demands of life, work, school, extracurricular activities and more, you likely feel exhausted and overwhelmed. How do you make make health a priority while managing a busy schedule? Prioritize managing your time. If you don’t take care of yourself, how will you be your best at work, school, or taking care of your family?
- Get clear on your goals as an individual and as a family. Get a chalkboard or whiteboard for the kitchen and gather a notebook and some colorful pens. Take some personal time to reflect on what you want to accomplish this year but also ask everyone in the family what goals they want to work on as well.
- Plan meals and snacks in advance. Having healthy food and nourishing snacks on hand reduces weekday stress by having one less thing to do. Find a time each week to plan 3 – 4 meals and write a grocery list. Enlist the help of family members and have your kids help in meal planning. Ask your kids what they want in their lunch or for after school snack! Having them take some ownership in making food choices is a great nutrition lesson. Remember if they say “Cookies!” it’s perfectly fine to balance those fun food choices with healthy food.
- Enlist help from all family members in the kitchen. Delegate age-appropriate chores and tasks to everyone, making sure all work is not placed on one person. Can your kids help cook? Can they help assemble meals and snacks? Research has shown that kids are more likely to try new foods if they help with the prep work.
- Avoid overcommitting. This is challenging because there are so many expectations on us today as parents. You want to say yes to everything and you want your kids to be involved in a lot of activities. But before you say yes, ask yourself “By me saying yes to this, what am I saying no to?” It’s extremely important to make sure that you have your self-care lined up, including your nutrition appointments!
- Embrace the .com. Seriously, we have a love/hate relationship with the internet, and for good reason! However, for busy families the internet can serve as a tool to stay organized and help manage time. You’ll find time-saving resources online from ordering groceries to using a service such as Blue Apron or HelloFresh to deliver ready-to-be-made meals to your door. Don’t forget to use the internet to find new recipes and creative meal ideas!
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Jennifer is a Registered Dietitian and the owner of Eat With Knowledge in Nyack, NY. She is on a mission to help people heal from diets, and find peace and balance with their food choices. She leads a team of dietitians who support the philosophy, “Feel Fabulous about Food!”
Start your own healing by downloading her Free Stop the Cycle of Binge Eating guide or her Free Hunger – Fullness Scale.