Despite the importance of healthy eating habits and regular exercise, it can be a real challenge to get the whole family on board with your decision to get healthier.
Unfortunately, today more than one third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese. Eating habits and physical activity patterns that contribute to obesity are often those established during adolescence and young adulthood.1
Obesity is associated with a higher risk for various health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and several types of cancer, including colon cancer.
The good news is you have the power to help your family develop good health practices early on so those diet and exercise habits carry on into adulthood. Here are six tips to help you get your family on the right track toward healthy living.
1. Take It Slow
If your kids wake up one morning to find all the cupboards cleaned out and their favorite foods replaced with 100% organic choices they've never seen, they may resist the transition.
Start by making subtle changes to familiar recipes, such as using whole wheat noodles in your usual pasta, low-fat dressing on salads, and fat-free milk rather than two percent. Your kids may not even notice the difference.
2. Make It Easy
Put out a bowl of fruit on the table so as your kids come through the kitchen they can grab a healthy snack on the go. Cutting up broccoli, carrots, celery, and pairing them with a low-fat side dish is also a quick, easy, healthy option.
You don't need to put the entire family on a week long organic cleanse to get them to make better health choices. Implement these small changes for lasting results.
3. Include Everyone In The Decision Making
Younger children love to try new things, especially if you frame them in a positive light. Encourage your young ones to share their ideas for healthier eating and exercise habits. Have them come up with an activity in which the whole family can participate.
Teens and young adults are more independent, so you could have them come with you to the grocery store to select the foods they want to try, rather than you telling them what to eat or how to exercise.
4. Be A Good Role Model
You won't get away with hiding a bag of chips at the top of the refrigerator. Kids are very observant and perceptive, and if they sense you are cheating your way through your own health mission, they'll feel they can do the same.
When they see you choosing healthy foods you enjoy or performing a great workout, they will feel inclined to align their own behavior to yours.
5. Make It Fun
In order to encourage your family to get active, organize a hiking trip or outing to the local pool. Try a parents vs. kids soccer game in the backyard. Get your kids involved in summer intramurals or other team sports. Have your kids help cook in the kitchen.
If your family enjoys the activities it takes to get healthy, they are more likely to follow through with them.
6. Make It Mean Something
Not every child or teen will respond to lectures on how more veggies will reduce their risk for chronic diseases. Try having a conversation with them about how making these healthy changes will make them stronger, more fit, or improve performance in sports.
By helping your family understand the connections between their lifestyle choices and the benefits that mean something to them, you can help them want to make these changes for themselves.
For some fun ideas to get your family active this summer, check out these 10 Summertime Family Activities That Double As Exercise.