Leading a healthy lifestyle is a family affair. But keeping everyone on board with the plan to be healthful can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. That’s why we’ve come up with a list of healthy family habits. Get in a routine and before long, your clan will be reminding YOU how to stay on top of your health.
1. Be a team
If only one person in the family wants to be healthy, it’s going to be quite the challenge to stick with it. If everyone is on the same team and creates a healthy family plan together, you’ll each have a mini-support group surrounding you.
2. Fuel up
Keeping a healthy weight means satisfying your hunger. Skipping meals spikes ghrelin, the hunger hormone, often times causing you to overeat when you forgo lunch in an effort to save room for extra calories at supper. Following a routine meal schedule and eating before you’re actually hungry, will keep calories consumed in check and keep you satisfied. Your kids will appreciate the routine as well and just might stop raiding the fridge between meals.
3. Old standbys
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel for every healthy meal you plan. Quick and simple meals, such as steel-cut oats with flaxseed and walnuts or simple vegetable-based soups, will keep things convenient and quick for busy families. If your family has favorites, mix them into the meal plan a few times a week. That way you know they’ll love them, and you won’t waste time in the grocery store finding ingredients for lots of different dishes that you’re not used to preparing, or even know if your family will like.
4. Play every day
Exercise doesn’t always have to be running five miles or spending an hour on the elliptical. Find fun things your family enjoys, and spend at least 20 minutes a day doing them. Shoot some hoops in the driveway or at a local park, put on your favorite music and have a dance party, take the whole family to walk the dog through the neighborhood, jump rope, or jump on the trampoline. Whatever your family enjoys, make it a habit. Everyone will have fun, and the kids will be developing a healthy habit of being active along the way.
5. Eat meals together
It’s likely impossible to eat every meal together, but designating at least one family meal a day is important. Your kids will observe you eating a relaxed, healthful, balanced meal with proper portions and will develop their own habit of doing the same. As an added bonus, this is a great opportunity for the family to bond about their experiences from the day. Or simply spark conversations about anything and everything.
6. Make good grocery store choices
Sweets and salty snacks are easy to crave and hard to resist. If they don’t make it off the grocery store shelf, the battle will never even exist – for you or your kids. Rather than fighting with your kids over how much junk food they can have, keep it out of your cart, and out of your cupboards, and the temptation will be gone.
7. Let the kids keep you in check
Generally speaking, parents are the ones who “police” the household for poor behavior…and what foods or drinks get consumed. Turn the table when it comes to policing unhealthy habits, and let the kids help keep YOU in check. Teach your kids about smart eating, and let them call you out if they catch you sneaking a bag of chips or having a soda.
8. Plant a garden together
A garden is a great way to build a healthy family from the ground up in the most literal sense. Through gardening, you can cultivate a healthful relationship with your children by teaching them about different vegetables and why they are good for your body. By having your kids be part of the process, they will get excited about choosing vegetables to plant and learning about both eating well and sustainability. Getting to play in the dirt is the icing on the cake!
9. Create a no-drive zone
Designate an area of your neighborhood that everyone in your family can only walk, ride a bicycle, skateboard, or a ride scooter to. Chances are a lot of your small errands, like the post office, library, or even delivering something to your neighbor can be done without a vehicle. By encouraging your kids to move themselves, versus asking for a ride, they will keep active just by doing ordinary activities. Be sure to incorporate a few fun areas in your no-drive zone, like parks or playgrounds and don’t forget to be a part of the healthy family by abiding by the no-drive zone yourself!
10. Go screen-free
Encourage family members to ditch the television, computers, tablets, and smartphones in exchange for face-to-face family time. That might sound easier said than done in this day and age. But it’s worth it for your family’s physical and mental health. Your family will be more apt to engage in conversation if the screens are off. Plus you can come up with some pretty fun ways to pass the time without the devices. Grab a board game, get imaginations stirring with storytelling, find a home project that everyone can help with, take the time to stroll through a local farmer’s market…you get the idea. Create a healthy family by interacting with each other and by avoiding overuse of today’s gadgets.
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