Five ‘Fall Resolutions’ to Keep Your Family Healthy

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CDPHP offers ways to turn the change of seasons into change for the better.

As the kids head back to school and the cooler weather settles in, now is the time to mark new beginnings. Forget Jan. 1 – here are some “fall resolutions” that are easy to make and stick to.

1. REVAMP YOUR DIET AND EXERCISE PLANS

  •     Breakfast: Don’t skip it. Kids and adults need a balanced meal each morning.
  •     Lunch: The national school lunch guidelines have changed this year. Encourage your kids to try the fruits and vegetables offered on the school menu. CDPHP members can learn how to build a better bag lunch with a free class through Cornell Cooperative Extension.
  •     Dinner: Plan ahead. Make double-duty dinners, plan leftovers and dust off that old crockpot so you are less tempted to swing by the drive-thru. Work in new foods along with family favorites.
  •     Snacks: Keep healthy snacks such as string cheese, baby carrots and hummus, and fresh fruit at the ready. This can keep hands out of the cookie jar and hunger at bay after school.
  •     Fresh finds: Go apple and pumpkin picking. Many farmers’ markets are still in full swing through the fall. Click here, for a list of markets in New York.
  •     For more tips: Check out the Diet and Nutrition page on CDPHP.com.
  •     Exercise: Take advantage of the cooler weather. Take a walk after dinner with the family. If you are waiting on the sidelines while the kids are playing sports, walk around the field. Try a new class at the gym. CDPHP offers it members a variety of free wellness classes and programs.

2. TAKE CARE OF YOUR HEALTH

  •     Colds and flu: Have kids to wash their hands often – especially when they come home from school. Teach them to cough or sneeze into their elbow, not their hands. Get a flu shot.
  •     Seasonal allergies: Ragweed is the biggest culprit this time of year, but mold and indoor allergens also pose a problem. Talk to your doctor about the best line of treatment.
  •     Food allergies: If your child suffers from a food allergy, give all of the pertinent information to his or her teacher. Keep the proper medications with the school nurse, and make sure permission-to-treat forms are updated and on file.
  •     Special health concerns: Bacterial meningitis (especially in college dorms) and MRSA (often linked to school locker rooms) can be an issue. Vaccines should be up to date, and teach kids to follow proper hygiene routines.
  •     Backpacks: Heavy bags can lead to neck, shoulder and back strain. Some features to look for in a backpack include a lighter weight material; wide, padded shoulder straps; a waist belt; multiple compartments; and a padded back. Don’t pack more than 15% to 20% of your child’s weight, and pack the heaviest items closest to the back.

3. HAVE A ROUTINE
Mornings:

  •     Start the night before. Make lunches, set out outfits, pack backpacks, and make sure important papers are signed. Have your child shower at night to cut down on morning bathroom time.

Homework:

  •     Create a quiet spot that is free of distractions. Have the kids do their homework at the same time each day. Set a time limit – if they have a lot of homework, give them a break midway through.
  •     Keep a bin for important school-related papers. This way you are not scrambling to find permission slips or other papers that need attention.

Sports, extracurricular and after-school activities:

  •     Before you sign your child up for a sport or activity, talk about the commitment they are making. Explain how much time and effort is needed.
  •     Make the ground rules clear. Let them know that academics come first, and if their schoolwork starts to suffer, they have to cut back.
  •     Keep a centralized calendar – a large dry erase board with a calendar is perfect for keeping track of important events. If you have multiple children, pick a different color for each child.
  •     Carpool if possible. Talk to other parents about setting up a shared schedule. Have a last-minute contingency plan in case you are not available due to a sick child or a conflict.

Family time:

  •     Eat together as a family most nights of the week, and have dinner at the same time each day.
  •     Plan a “family game night” or a weekly activity where you spend time together.
  •     Go electronics free – even if it is just for an hour or two.

4. GET MORE SLEEP

  •     School-age children (5-12) need 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night. Teens need at least 9 hours.
  •     To help them get back on schedule, move bedtime back 10 to 15 minutes each night.
  •     Establish a nighttime routine. Taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book or listening to soothing music can help kids wind down.
  •     Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day (even on weekends).
  •     Avoid caffeine, heavy meals and electronics a few hours before bedtime.
  •     Let go of stress and anxiety by writing down your thoughts. Keep a journal by your bed.

5. RELAX

  •     Don’t overdo it: School activities abound and volunteers are always needed. Don’t feel obligated when those sign-up sheets come around. You can say “no” and not feel guilty. Keep it short and sweet.
  •     Take a break: Kids and adults need to take time to blow off some steam. Try meditation, deep breathing exercises or yoga. Finding downtime goes a long way toward your health and well being.

Sources: NYS Department of Health, American Academy of Family Physicians/FamilyDoctor.org, WebMD, Prevention.com, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Sleep Foundation

About CDPHP®
Established in 1984, CDPHP is a physician-founded, member-focused and community-based not-for-profit health plan that offers high-quality affordable health insurance plans to members in 24 counties throughout New York. CDPHP is also on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

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Deanna Amore
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