Good health and nutrition are a family affair. Kids mirror the behavior of their parents, so if you encourage your kids to eat healthy foods and exercise regularly while slouching on the couch snacking on chips each evening, it might be time to sit down and establish some family nutrition goals.
How to Set Family Nutrition Goals
Although every member of the family might have a different goal in mind, remember the best kinds of goals are SMART:
For example, say you decide to increase your intake of fiber. Set a specific amount, perhaps 10 grams a day, and decide how you’re going to accomplish this. It could be that you choose to make one meal where you swap meat or poultry (which contain no fiber) for kidney beans, lentils or chickpeas (which contain around 10 grams of fibre per 3/4 cup). These plant-based foods provide a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals and also increase fiber intake dramatically. It’s SMART.
Meanwhile, your youngest child may decide on a goal of eating a new fruit or vegetable once a week for the next month. It can help to designate a day for this activity, such as the day you usually do groceries. By the end of the month, they will have tried four or five healthy new foods and could have a new favorite snack. It’s SMART!
Types of Family Nutrition Goals
Other worthwhile goals might include:
- Eat breakfast every day
- Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day
- Take a (reusable!) bottle of water to work to drink in full each day
- Cut down on one cup of coffee a day – switch to herbal tea or water
- Commit to Meatless Monday – where the whole family swaps meat for protein-rich pulses or beans
- Switch out fruit juice for actual fruit (to increase fiber and reduce spikes in blood sugar)
- Eat a handful of almonds or walnuts (to increase intake of minerals and healthy fats).
Most of these are appropriate for the whole family and the rest are easily adapted; such as getting kids to commit to cutting down on one soda a day and switching it for water.
Evaluate, Adjust, Support
If you’ve tried goal-setting before, why not talk as a family about whether you all met those goals, what helped you to succeed, and what stood in your way? What did you all learn from the experience? For example, did anyone find it easier if they:
- Worked towards a goal with someone else
- Set up smaller milestones
- Rewarded themselves for achieving certain milestones
- Found creative ways to achieve the goal
- Set reminders in their phone or diary
- Established a schedule to make a new task routine
- Made a new habit fun?
If this is your firs kick at the can, it’s important to check in as a family to see how everyone is doing with the plan. This kind of reflection is important for kids to learn as it can help increase confidence in their ability to adapt and problem-solve. Failing at a specific task can be a great learning experience as long as kids (and adults!) are encouraged to figure out what went wrong, to ask for help when they need it, and to give it another try.
Make It Fun!
If you have a family that likes to compete you might want to harness that tendency for good by setting up a little competition. Or, if you have kids who like to work as a team, help them meet their target by forming pairs or choosing a family challenge. Kids are great for holding adults accountable!
You might also want to set up a bonus prize if the whole family achieves the overall health goal. That way, if you’re flagging at any point, you have the whole family to keep you motivated to succeed!
Make goal-setting fun and interactive by drawing charts you can post to the refrigerator. Find fun stickers (such as fruits and veggies), and each night during dinner check to see who has met their daily target and gets a sticker!