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Realizing the New Year Resolution

Yes, we made a resolution to be healthy, to lose weight, to work out more. Perhaps there was a plan attached to the resolution, a gym membership or a promise to cook more? But a few weeks into the new year, and old patterns have reemerged. No wonder you want to throw your hands up and forget the whole deal, except you can’t. It’s not just about you, it’s your family as well.

First, of all, be kind to yourself. Look back at what we’ve collectively been through with COVID. We were homebound, anxious till the vaccines arrived, worrying about every social interaction. For kids, who learn so much through interaction at school,
remote learning was a very poor substitute. And we binge-watched TV like never before, we cooked and baked up a storm. We exercised less. Shopping was mostly online, and we bought in bulk to minimize trips to stores.
And now we are back to socializing, children are going to school and most of us have been traveling. There is a sense of urgency, to enjoy and soak up family, travel and play.
We should recognize how fortunate we are to have our health and each other. It's important to acknowledge our loss during this pandemic but also to make plans so we do not dwell on it. Yes, I suggest plans, not resolutions because this is not a do-or-die situation, you are trying out healthier ways of doing things that might make life better, and happier as well. Let's keep the wellness goals of our family at the forefront. 
In my office, I see children who have gained weight due to increased eating and lack of activity. They think they have poor self-control. This is misguided because society was already in transition before COVID arrived. Technology has crept into our lives, changing our habits: more screen time, and more sitting alone.  The food industry changed our relationship to food.  Never in human history were calories so easily available and so cheaply. “Fat-free” and “sugar-free” became watchwords rather than nutritious and sustaining.  
So let us begin with what we put in our bodies and how we stay active. If we want to
change our diet, it must be simple, fun and easy to put into action. I suggest the

 Three balanced meals with 1-2 snacks in between.

 Start with a lean protein, add vegetables and then an unprocessed grain. 

 Good fat is good for you, such as the fat in avocados, nuts, other foods with
unsaturated oils. But watch the portion, they are calorie dense.

 Try organic, when possible. For vegetables, do check out the freezer section of
your store. 

 During winter, soups are a good way to provide adequate nutrition without
laboring over the stove for hours.

 Think of snacks as mini-meals. Try fruit and nuts and if possible, add plant-based
protein like hummus.

 Watch portions and limit variety: For example, if you have 3 desserts, folks want
to sample them all. Make one and pair it with fruit. Apple pie and ice cream are
two desserts, sorry!

 Be creative: Lay the table in a pretty way and serve food restaurant style. Kids
can help.

 All physical activity is exercise. Try to keep it fun. Use any exercise machines
you have.  

 Watch family movies once a week and let children pick something they think you
will like.  Be appreciative, do not criticize! They brought you a gift from their
world, enjoy it! 

 Play a board game once a week.

We want our children to be the best version of themselves through proper nutrition and physical activity. Let them eat what will help them achieve their genetic potential and eliminate the foods that slow down this process. The same holds true for adults. If we want change, we must model the behavior.
It's still a new year, a natural time for a new beginning. What story will you write this

Dr. Madhu Mathur is a pediatrician and an obesity medicine physician. Since 2014, she has been working with individual families addressing obesity in children, focusing mainly on lifestyle intervention. Her work focuses on changing behavior using the latest research and scientific methods to address lipid disorders, prediabetes, and other conditions while improving body composition with weight loss.