It can often be a real struggle to gtet your children to adopt a healthy lifestyle. The are bombrded everythere they go with things that encourage them to make unhealthy choices. One of the best ways to prepare your children for a long and healthy life is to get them started early with their own healthy habits.
Of course the best way to do this is by example. When the entire family practices healthy habits, these habits are more likely to stick with your children for life. If you simply do it as a matter of course – and are consistent – than it stops becoming a big deal and just becomes part of life – just the way things are so to speak. And hopefully, when faced with soem of those choices – they understand enough to make the right ones – at least most of the time!
Here are six healthy habits to create for you and your family:
Most of us just don’t drink enough water. Sure, we’re hydrated but it’s often with beverages loaded in calories and sugar. Instead, skip the soda, juice, and sweetened drinks and drink water. It may be a tough transition for the entire family so make the change gradually. One way to begin is by diluting juice with water. Gradually increase the amount of water, and lessen the juice. This will make the transition to water much more easy.
As well, a great idea is to add sliced lemon to your water to give it a bit of “zing,” and healthy, natural flavor.
2. Consume less during mealtimes
Unfortunately, we are a super-sized society. We’re accustomed to eating a lot during mealtimes, and even restaurants have learned to cater to that weakness.
Work on eating smaller portions during mealtimes. Serve more vegetables on the plate, and less protein and starchy carbohydrates. Your body and that of your family’s will adjust to eating less, but it can take a few days.
3. Eat less sugar
Sugar is in just about everything we eat. It’s in bread, sauces, and it’s sometimes even in lunch meat. Help your family break the addiction to sugar by choosing low-sugar and no-sugar options. Cookies and other sugary snacks are okay occasionally, but they shouldn’t be an everyday choice.
4. Appreciate food for what it is
Food when you break it right down to the basics is really only intended to provide us with the needed nutrition to sustain our health and energy. Of course, in our society and cultures, food has become so much more. We have a connection to it for better or worse. We need to ensure that connection is healthy, fo ourselves and our environment. It’s important to understand what goes in our food, where it comes from and how and to what degree it’s processed.
In addition, from a social aspect there’s nothing wrong with enjoying food and including it for enjoyment when with family and friends. The key is consuming food, including treats, in moderation. But we need to understand our relationship with food and ensure it’s a healthy one.
When people have a healthy appreciation for food, they eat healthier. However, when they use food to soothe their emotions or as a reward, it creates a misguided relationship with food, which will often lead to more physical diet-realted ailments.
Children can also learn to turn to food as a coping mechanism. Parents can help by not using food as a reward or punishment. A healthy realtionship with food needs to be established at a young age.
5. Make more food at home
Takeout and prepackaged foods are sometimes necessary, but they’re often not healthy. However, when a family makes food at home using fresh produce, then they’re more likely to eat healthy and to develop a healthy relationship with food. Make cooking a family activity on the weekends when everyone is home together. This is a great way for children to learn about making healthier choices, as well as healthier food preparation methods.
You can find more tips on food prep for a healthy lifestyle here.
6. Move your body
Last, but not least, find a way to be active each and every day. Walk or bike to places when you can. Take hikes and family walks together. Play sports or engage in physical activities.
The more you’re active as a family and on your own, the more your children will be active too now and in the future. An active lifestyle is key to both a healthy mind and body.
Want some tips on family fitness activities – see here.
It’s pretty clear then, that one of a parent’s most important responsibilities is to be a good role model. In fact this goes for any adult, with influence over children. We are always really careful to ensure our neices and nephews are exposed to good healthy choices when we baby-sit. And I’m also a big advocate for healthy lifestyle choices being practiced and taught in schools.
As your children grow, they’ll learn about healthy habits from you. They watch, they emulate, and they adopt your habits. Creating healthy habits as a family will help your children grow up healthy and strong. They’ll take the habits they learned as children into adulthood.