10 simple swaps to make your new year healthy

Story by Melinda Caldwell, TSET Healthy Living Program Coordinator, OSU Prevention Programs

The New Year often includes goals to eat healthier and get more exercise, but your family doesn’t have to completely overhaul their entire life to be healthier. Instead, make small, simple swaps every day. With a few easy, realistic swaps, you can be healthier without making any extreme changes to the lifestyle you’re used to. The more swaps you make, the healthier you and your family will be. With better health, your family can stay protected from lifestyle-related chronic diseases, like obesity and cardiovascular disease—two of Oklahoma’s top causes of preventable death.

So have a happy, healthy New Year by making these 10 simple swaps.

  1. Choose mornings with movement over mornings without movement.  Add some movement to your morning routine. When you wake up, give your arms and legs a good stretch. Then, in the bathroom, do a set of calf raises while you brush your teeth or some squats during your shower. Tell your kids to do the same!
  2. Choose whole-grain cereal over sugary cereal.  Another healthy swap is to actually eat breakfast instead of skipping it. Breakfast helps jumpstart your metabolism and gives you energy for the day. Whole-grain cereals are loaded with fiber and are a whole lot healthier than sugary ones. Top it with your favorite berry, too!
  3. Choose play time over screen time.  Tell your kids to put down their devices and pick up a new activity. Basketball, football, soccer, riding bikes… the options are endless! If it’s cold out, find ways to move indoors. By limiting screen time on the TV, computer, phone or tablet, your family will have more opportunities to get active.
  4. Play with your kids instead of watching them play. When your kids swap screen time for play time, join in on the fun! Instead of just supervising them as they play, play with them. It’s a super way to bond with your kids. Plus, you can get your 30 minutes of physical activity, and help your kids get their 60 minutes.
  5. Pack lunches instead of store-bought lunches.  At the grocery store, avoid reaching for pre-packaged combo lunches. They’re unhealthy and expensive. Instead, stock up on fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains and low fat dairy and make your own healthy lunch packs. It’s much healthier. Plus, you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck.
  6. Choose lean turkey over hot dogs.  For a quick lunch at home, a hot dog may sound like a good idea. But despite their convenience, hot dogs are fatty, salty, and unhealthy. Instead, swap a hot dog for some lean turkey. Make a sandwich, or try a Turkey Vegetable Wrap. It’s just as convenient, and it’s a much healthier option.
  7. Take a lap instead of a nap.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of a cozy living room, especially when it’s cold out. However, 60 minutes of daily physical activity is essential for growing children. So whether it’s the weekend or after school, remind your kids: laps over naps, lunging over lounging, and crunches over couches. (Remind yourself too.)
  8. Choose carrots and hummus instead of chips and dip.  Stick with healthier snacks in the New Year by swapping potato chips for crispy veggie sticks. You’ll get the crunch without the salt and fat. Try crisp veggies like carrots or celery sticks, and dip them in some yummy hummus. You’ll be surprised how tasty it is.
  9. Choose low fat yogurt instead of ice cream.  In 2018, serve a healthier dessert by deserting ice cream and scooping some low fat yogurt into your bowl. You’ll experience a creamy coolness much like ice cream, but with less sugar and fat (and way more nutrients). Make your yogurt even sweeter by adding fruits like blackberries or raspberries, too!
  10. Choose water over sugary drinks.  Water is healthy, refreshing, and has no sugar or calories! It can even help prevent headaches and fatigue. So choose water over sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks, and juice boxes. For a burst of refreshing flavor, try Strawberry Basil or Blueberry Orange water.

These are just 10 swaps your family can make to live healthier. Other simple, healthy swaps include:

  • When eating out choose vegetables or fruit as a side instead of unhealthy food like fries.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator to help you move more.
  • Swap smoke breaks for walk breaks to help you be tobacco free.

These Simple swaps can lead to Amazing results.

For tons of healthy tips and resources on how you can live a healthier life, visit ShapeYourFutureOK.com.