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5 (Realistic) New Year's Family Food Resolutions

Jan 07, 2015 11:09AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

You know those New Year’s eating resolutions that you start out making – like eliminating all added sugar – that turn out to be really, really hard to keep? Sure, resolutions are aspirational, but they’re also arbitrary. If you set the bar too high, they can lead to discouragement and – worst case scenario – movement in the opposite direction.

With that said, we’d like to propose a few anyway. These resolutions are kind of like gentler resolutions – the kind that aim to steer you in a general direction that you hope you can sustain. These resolutions will certainly have your family eating more healthily, and should be relatively easy to keep for 2015 (and beyond). Bonus: We've given you a few local sources for inspiration.

1) Reduce sugary drinks: Your kids don’t need juice. Or lemonade. Or energy drinks. Or soda. Water is fine. It seems like the kid’s meal option always includes a drink, which is generally a choice between lemonade or a soda. Get in the habit of choosing a water. And get out of the habit of giving your kids energy drinks just because they see it in the vending machine and it’s the same color as their team gear. Put a big pitcher in the fridge with lemons or limes or some other fruit to keep it interesting. (And if you need something more interesting than just plain water, check out the Aloe Vera H2O or the Chlorophyll H2O from Pressed Juicery.)

2) Minimize artificial food colorings: You’ve heard that artificial food colorings may impair kids’ behavior, and you probably try to avoid buying your kids food that is neon blue. But you may be surprised to find that artificial food colors are more pervasive than you think, with cereals, puddings, and salad dressings all artificially colored. Take pickles – Would you believe that almost every major brand of pickles has food coloring in it? Save those rare food coloring indulgences for birthday parties, where everyone wants a little bit of green or blue frosting. Just take it out of your everyday routine. (And if you're looking for a great artisan pickle, check out Completely Pickled, now at the Manhattan Beach Farmers Market.)

3) Max out on fruits and veggies: When you think about the average daily recommendations for fruit and vegetables (2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables per day for a 2000-calorie diet) it sounds like a lot. But when you look at a picture of what that represents, it really isn’t that much. That’s why we love’s photo montage of possible fruit and veggie combinations for the day. If you don’t have time to do that much prep work, go for easy-to-eat fruits like grapes or bananas and pre-washed, pre-packaged greens. Just try to get at least that much on your table every day. (Hint: Hit up local produce hot spots, like the Manhattan Beach Farmers Market or GROW The Produce Shop.)

4) No more “flimsy” meals: If you start off the day with a breakfast of a plain waffle, you may be momentarily satisfied. But those easy carbs get burned up fast and they don’t provide a lot of staying power until the next meal – and that’s when you start dipping into between-meal snacks. Focus on building more complex meals – especially breakfasts – with staying power. Think whole-grain breads, oatmeal, eggs, fruit served with nut or sunflower seed butter, or even hearty soups. (Hint: Get your day off to a healthy start with an acai/granola/fruit/nut butter bowl from Paradise Bowls, the Al's El Porto omelet from the The Local Yolk, or Breakfast Fried Rice from The Kettle.)

5) Enjoy the meal: Sure, you’ve got a meeting and the kids have late soccer and swim practices. We know that schedules – and mealtimes – get complicated. But when you do have a chance to sit down (family breakfast, anyone?) make the time count. That means no electronics, no repeatedly getting up and running back and forth to the kitchen, and a few decent threads of conversation. (This is aspirational, remember?) If you want to break the mold and go for something really different, make your next family meal a picnic at Polliwog Park.

Let us know how it’s going, and if you have any additional goals for your family!

A version of this article originally appeared on The Jolly Tomato.

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