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.
This is best taught by example. When the entire family practices healthy habits, they’re more likely to stick with your children for life.
Here are six healthy habits to create for you and your family:
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Most of us just don’t drink enough water. Sure, we’re hydrated, but it’s often with calorie and sugar heavy beverages.
Skip the soda, juice and sweetened drinks and stick to water.
This may be a tough transition for the entire family, but if you can make the change gradually, it will be easier to do.
One easy way to change to drinking water is to dilute your family’s favorite juice or sports drinks with a bit of water. Increase the amount of water in the glass each time they drink it until they are drinking only water.
If you really feel the need for that bubbly taste that you get from a soda, you can try carbonated water or Zevia soda, which is sugar-free as well as free of artificial colors and sweeteners.
Another way to ensure that your family is drinking enough water is to set a goal to drink a certain number of ounces a day. Fill up fun, reusable water bottles in the morning and drink from them throughout the day to make it easier to hit your goal.
Eat less during mealtime
We’re a super-sized society. We’re accustomed to eating a lot during breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Work on eating smaller portions during mealtime. Serve more vegetables on the plate and less protein and starchy carbohydrates.
When you load up your plate with veggies or salad greens, it helps you to feel more full, while dramatically lowering your calorie intake.
A few ways to get more vegetables into your meals are:
- Add cooked peppers, spinach, onion and tomato to eggs in the morning for a veggie omelet
- Fill your plate with chopped lettuce and put your main protein over top to turn it into a big salad
- Add chopped or pureed veggies to spaghetti sauce. You can use spinach, kale, peppers, sweet potato, or even okra.
Move your body
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. An active lifestyle is key to a healthy mind and body.
If you think that you don’t have much time to devote to exercise, see my post on how busy moms fit in exercise for tips on inserting fitness into an already busy schedule.
Appreciate food for what it is
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying food and consuming treats in moderation.
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.
Children will learn to turn to food as a coping mechanism. Parents can help by not using food as a reward or punishment.
How else can we reward our kids for good report cards or cleaning their rooms regularly? Try thinking of special outings you can take for an afternoon, such as a trampoline park (combines fun and exercise!), buying them a special shirt or pair of shoes that they’ve been wanting, or celebrating with a special family movie night.
Make more food at home
Takeout and prepackaged foods are sometimes necessary, but they’re usually not healthy.
However, when a family makes food at home using fresh produce 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.
If you run out of the house in the morning without breakfast because you think you don’t have much time, take a peek at these quick breakfast ideas, and avoid the take-out lines.
Eat less sugar
Sugar is in just about everything we eat. It’s in bread, sauces, 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 snacks are okay occasionally but they shouldn’t be an everyday choice.
If you find that breaking the sugar habit is harder than you thought, you’re in good company. Sometimes we need a little help. See my post on how to go sugar-free and stay that way…it’s how I was able to get off sugar for good.
One of a parent’s most important responsibilities is to be a good role model. As your child grows 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.