As a new year begins, many adults launch diets. Sometimes, they include their entire family on the die

However, children should not be placed on a weight-loss diet without first consulting a health-care provider. Reducing the rate of weight gain while allowing normal growth and development is the goal for children’s diets.

Family Eating

As we begin the new year, step back and assess your family’s daily diet. Does it have room for improvement?

  • Are family members eating, on average, 2½ cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit daily?

  • Are half of your grain choices whole grain items?

  • Do you choose a variety of lean proteins?

  • Do you serve calcium sources such as dairy or an alternative?

  • Do you encourage your family to drink lots of water?

  • Do you limit sugar-sweetened beverages?

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Consider setting a monthly family goal for healthful eating, with one small change at a time. Consider this goal: Store crunchy, ready-to-eat vegetables such as carrots, broccoli and cauliflower in containers in your refrigerator for after school (or work) snacks.

See for easy-to-read fact sheets.

Family Connection

As we begin the new year, take another step back and assess your family’s daily interactions. Do they have room for improvement?

How often do your family dinner conversations include laughing together?

Consider asking people to bring a family-friendly joke to the table once a week.

Do you include everyone in some aspect of food preparation, table setting and cleanup?

Think about using a homemade chore chart to rotate jobs among family members.

Will your family take a vacation this year?

Plan a budget, where and when you will vacation and what you will do. If money is tight, camp in the living room and play board games, but be sure to put it on the calendar so it really happens.

Where can you find minutes to move together in your day?

Resolve to do a physical activity together as a family for 20 to 30 minutes a day.

Use the extra “waiting” minutes in your day for physical activity. Instead of sitting in the car waiting for a school activity to end, walk the halls in bad weather and the track in good weather.

Instead of checking social media while the hotdish is in the oven, find a tune you can dance to and encourage everyone to move to the music. Dance party!

See for more information about children, families and finances.

Article used with permission from Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension, The Family Table newsletter, Issue 13. For more information, contact the Stutsman County Extension office at 252-9030 or email