10 Tiny Changes That Make a Big Impact on Your Family’s Well-Being

10 Tiny Changes That Make a Big Impact on Your Family’s Well-Being

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My husband and I were recently discussing the fact that we’ve both pushed our health to the back burner for far too long, and we’re really starting to feel the effects.

“But getting to the gym regularly just feels impossible right now,” I sighed, thinking of the effort it would take to figure out what to do with both the 3-year-old and the infant every time I wanted to break a sweat. “And most nights we have all of 20 minutes to try to make a nutritious dinner,” he added.

But we agreed that complaining about the problem wasn’t going to solve it, so instead we made a list.

Not a list of our grand, someday health goals (like run another half marathon or expose our kids to every type of vegetable on the planet), but rather of itty bitty changes that could help all of us feel a whole lot better. Then we committed to tackling each item on the list one by one—assuming that as we did, we’d slowly start to build up our healthy habits, which cumulatively would make a big impact.

It’s a logical plan, yes, and also one that’s backed by research.

A 2012 study from the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation found that small changes really can make a big impact on your health.

“Every increment towards a healthier lifestyle makes an improvement,” explained the study’s lead researcher. “You don’t have to be totally perfect starting right this very second.”

Want to make your own list of small (read: totally doable) changes that will make you and your family healthier? Here are 10 ideas to get you started.

10 Tiny Changes That Make a Big Impact on Your Family’s Well-Being

1. Make swaps that are barely noticeable.

Forget trying to make an entire diet overhaul (which rarely sticks, anyway). Instead, focus on little swaps that your palate won’t even perceive: substitute olive oil for butter, plain Greek yogurt for sour cream, fresh fruit for your afternoon chocolate bar, baked sweet potato fries over French fries, etc.

2. Go all-natural where it counts.

While some families are able to eat all-natural all the time, most of us need to pick and choose—due to budget limitations, time constraints or just personal preferences. This makes a difference with certain types of products more than others, so it’s worth narrowing down which items absolutely must be all-natural for your family.

Our list includes the “dirty dozen” fruits and veggies, cow’s milk for our children, and deli meats. In my house we all enjoy a good turkey & cheese sandwich, so we love that the HORMEL® NATURAL CHOICE® brand offers lunch meat options that are 100% natural—all at a price that’s actually affordable for most families.

10 Tiny Changes That Make a Big Impact on Your Family’s Health

3. Keep everyone hydrated.

Drinking enough water is one of the simplest and most basic ways to be healthier. So many ailments—ranging from headaches to constipation to muscle soreness and more—can be solved or at least improved by drinking enough water. And yet many of us don’t do it.

Kids are especially at risk: A 2015 study found that over half of all American children experience inadequate hydration. So start carting that water bottle along everywhere you go and make sure your children aren’t getting dehydrated either.

4. Eat out of true physical hunger.

We tend to eat for all kinds of reasons that have nothing to do with being hungry. We eat because it’s breakfast time. We eat because there’s a holiday party. We eat because we’re really stressed out. We eat because we’re tired but taking a nap isn’t an option.

For some of us, we eat by the clock or for emotional reasons so often that we’ve lost touch with our actual hunger cues. Returning to those cues—and teaching our children how to stay in touch with them as well—is a basic change that can lead to lifelong health.

5. Choose better-for-you convenience foods.

I get it: You’re strapped for both time and energy, so fixing a gourmet lunch every day or cutting up fresh veggies for dinner every night probably isn’t going to happen. Realistically, most of us need to rely on some convenience foods to feed our families.

One tiny change you can make is just to be a bit more picky about which convenience foods you buy and which you skip. Pre-cut fruits and veggies? Go for it. Preservative-laden lunch entrees? Think twice.

10 Tiny Changes That Make a Big Impact on Your Family’s Health

Here is where NATURAL CHOICE® products come to the rescue again: their deli meats have no added preservatives! They don’t use artificial ingredients or added preservatives; instead, they use an all-natural process called HPP, where the products are packaged, sealed, and pasteurized by being placed under high-pressure water exertion. That’s a lot of fancy language that basically just means you can rest easy that the super-convenient sandwiches you make for your family’s lunches are packed with flavor—not added preservatives.

10 Tiny Changes That Make a Big Impact on Your Family’s Health

6. Take regular sitting breaks.

The fact that we’re a culture of sitters isn’t news. Most of us spend a large portion of our day sitting and our kids are starting to do the same. When sitting is simply unavoidable—say, at your job—try setting an alarm to remind you to get up and walk around for a few minutes every hour. For your kids, try creating a “Get Up and Move!” jar, filled with simple ideas for getting everyone off the couch for a few minutes.

10 Tiny Changes That Make a Big Impact on Your Family’s Health

My 3-year-old loves reaching in and picking out a popsicle stick featuring an easy suggestion for physical activity, like play a game of Simon Says, see how high and far you can jump, and do the chicken dance.

7. Eat dinner together.

A simple commitment to gathering together around the dinner table can make a huge impact on the health of kids and grown-ups alike. According to the Family Dinner Project out of Harvard University, sharing a family meal is good for the health of all family members.

Regular family meals lower the rates of obesity and eating disorders in children and teens. And let’s not forget the host of emotional and social benefits that come from eating dinner together, like better communication, enhanced vocabulary in children, and stronger feelings of resilience and self-confidence.

8. Zero in on ingredients.

Do you have time to pour over nutrition labels while you’re shopping in the grocery store with your children in tow? I know I don’t!

So let’s make it simple: If you’re only going to look at one thing on the back of a food package, make it the ingredient list. If it’s a pretty simple list, filled almost entirely with words you recognize and can pronounce, then that’s the green light to feed it to your family. But if it’s a list a mile long, made up of lots of chemical-sounding words that you’re not even sure are really food, back on the shelf it goes.

10 Tiny Changes That Make a Big Impact on Your Family’s Health

This is another major perk of choosing NATURAL CHOICE® lunch meats: All the varieties feature clean, simple ingredients lists (like the one above for NATURAL CHOICE® Honey Deli Ham). Nothing scary or unknown.

9. Get outside.

This one can be tough depending on the weather and the season, but a little fresh-air therapy is good for everyone’s physical and mental state. Bring on the body’s natural production of Vitamin D through exposure to sunlight.

10 Tiny Changes That Make a Big Impact on Your Family’s Health

10. Prioritize sleep—for everyone.

Many parents (myself included) are a little obsessive with making sure their kiddos get enough sleep. And rightfully so, considering that being well-rested is essential for children’s growth, cognitive development and good behavior.

But too often we parents forget that all those benefits of sleep apply to us too; being sleep-deprived is associated with a host of physical and emotional troubles in adults. So while walking around like a zombie is often considered a rite of passage for parenthood, don’t let that phase last too long. Get thee to bed on time and everyone benefits.


What’s one tiny change you’re going to make to improve your family’s health? 

For more info, be sure to follow the NATURAL CHOICE® brand on Facebook and Pinterest!

18 Comments

  1. A Geek Daddy
    Apr 04, 2016 @ 09:23:48

    Your suggestion on drinking more water is right on. Our family was drinking too much soda and sugary juice drinks and have noticed we all feel healthier since we cut those down and started drinking more water. Often times you’ll be dehydrated and not realize it because you don’t feel thirsty. All your tips were great! Good luck on leading a healthier life style and kudos to your family for making the effort!

    Reply

    • Katie M. McLaughlin
      Apr 04, 2016 @ 10:26:54

      Good point about not even realizing you’re dehydrated! That happens to me a lot. I don’t feel thirsty until it’s much too late.

      Reply

  2. Maggie Brown
    Apr 04, 2016 @ 10:23:34

    That is a great list!!! The only thing I have a hard time with is the sleep because my mind some nights won’t shut down. We’ve started swapping out products slowly and they definitely don’t realize it when it’s not a sudden change. And it’s always good to try something new!

    Reply

    • Katie M. McLaughlin
      Apr 04, 2016 @ 10:25:50

      I have trouble quieting my mind too. I find it’s even tougher if I stare at a screen like my iPad or cell phone right before bed, so I’m trying to shut off all devices at least 30 minutes before trying to fall asleep.

      Reply

  3. Tiffany Washko
    Apr 04, 2016 @ 10:41:19

    Great tips. Getting sufficient sleep is a huge health bonus. Eating organic and cooking from scratch are some others. Also ditching products with nasty toxins. There are so many small steps we can take.

    Reply

  4. maria @ close to home
    Apr 04, 2016 @ 11:22:39

    We have been eating Hormel naturals for several years. Ever since the Nitrate reports starting coming out. We love the product.

    Reply

    • Katie M. McLaughlin
      Apr 04, 2016 @ 16:23:18

      It really is a great product! And switching to Natural Choice is such an easy way to improve your family’s well-being.

      Reply

  5. Simply At Home Mom (@SimplyAtHomeMom)
    Apr 04, 2016 @ 12:52:22

    This is a great list of doable things that make a big positive impact on your health! Anyone can do some of these!

    Reply

  6. littlemisscant
    Apr 04, 2016 @ 17:22:15

    I think a lot of time people think that you can skimp out on sleep and it won’t be a huge issue…I know for myself if I don’t get enough sleep I am a monster.
    We push the water too.. we always have a water bottle within reach.

    Reply

  7. Amanda McD
    Apr 04, 2016 @ 18:07:17

    I try to make healthy food a priority. Then life gets busy and I make bad choices, these really are easy ways to combat that!

    Reply

  8. Sonya
    Apr 05, 2016 @ 11:58:47

    Sponsored by natural choice perhaps?

    Reply

  9. Madeline
    Apr 07, 2016 @ 21:56:30

    I like your tip to make barely noticeable swaps. I’ve read about hiding veggies in casseroles and would like to try this on my family.
    maddiembrubaker {at} gmail [dot] com

    Reply

  10. Palka
    Apr 28, 2016 @ 00:58:02

    Lovely post… so easy but yet we don’t do these things!

    Reply

  11. Heather
    May 23, 2016 @ 02:45:28

    Like this list but disagree with #1… Butter is excellent for you, full of heart & brain healthy fats- especially grass fed, it has vitamin k2 which is difficult to find in our diet. Olive oil is great as well of course, but in addition to butter. Same with sour cream as long as raw/ organic. Greek yogurt has lots of good protein but watch for added ingredients & should be organic. Chocolate 70% cacao is good as well in small portions.

    Reply

  12. Gregory Willard
    Aug 16, 2016 @ 08:53:03

    Thank you for all this helpful information about eating. I had no idea that eating dinner as a family is actually good for your health. We try our best to have family dinner, and will usually plan a night to go out as a family.

    Reply

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