3 Ways to Start Healthy Family Habits
By Lindsay Woolman
Mar 20, 2018
Updated Nov 17, 2023
5 min read
Here’s some habits to grow in your family. Keep in mind that many factors shape a healthy journey, including stages of life, preferences, access to food, culture, traditions, and personal decisions.
The MyPlate method — which is the current USDA nutrition guide — is a great way to visualize proper potion sizes. A few guiding principles of MyPlate for families:
Daily food intakes (for most of adults 19 years or older):
NOTE: If you’re over 50 and female, eat half a cup less of the above totals. Also, if you’re female and have a smaller build, aim for the lower end of the ranges. If you’re a large male, aim for the higher end.
Added sugar in your family’s diet doesn’t add nutrients, but it does add a lot of empty calories, and it can lead to weight gain, obesity, tooth decay, diabetes, heart disease, and more.\
So, how much added sugar is OK? For women, the maximum amount of added sugar you should have in a single day is 25 grams, which is an eighth of a cup. For men, try to keep your added sugars to less than 36 grams per day, which is less than a fourth cup.
Natural vs. added sugars:
Juices vs. soda and sports drinks:
Most common beverages contain added sugars. A lot of people will say, “Well, what about juice? That has sugar.” But the sugars in most fruit juices are naturally occurring sugars. A beverage like 100 percent orange juice actually has zero grams of added sugar. The same is true with milk.
The trouble is most other packaged beverages contain added sugars. In fact, some contain A LOT of added sugars. The average 12-ounce non-diet soda contains 39 grams of sugar, or about 9.5 teaspoons — that's more sugar than anyone should consume in a day. If you drink your maximum amount of added sugars, it doesn’t leave any room in your daily allotment for anything extra like dessert.
Steps to eating less sugar
Weight management starts early with healthy habits, including diet and exercise. But what if your child isn’t athletically inclined? Try yoga with your kids instead. It might sound crazy, but yoga is something kids as young as 3 years old can do. And it isn’t just about contorting your body into a pretzel. Yoga includes simple breathing exercises and can help kids connect the mind and body.