A healthy lifestyle is a reflection of your personal values and the habits you cultivate on a daily basis. When you prioritize, in your own mind, the importance of taking care of your own health, as well as that of your family, you’ve laid the groundwork for a healthier home environment.
One of the worst dietary habits that many families fall into is keeping the kitchen well stocked with ice cream, cookies, cheese, crackers, and potato chips. While the mantra “All things in moderation” is a good guideline to follow, many people — especially children — do not have the self discipline to put that idea into practice. As you may have discovered, motivating your kids to eat less junk food and more fruits and vegetables can sometimes feel like an exercise in futility — and unfortunately, that’s not the kind of exercise that burns calories!
A Few Ideas For Healthier Eating
Permanently purging your home of all signs of snack foods that contain “empty calories” is too extreme of a solution for most families! A more realistic alternative might be to buy snacks in limited amounts and opt for the “reduced fat” version, whenever possible.
Then, by keeping a fresh supply of apples, bananas, and other fruit in the house, you’re encouraging your family to make healthier eating choices. One way to present this alternative in a more appealing way is to make low-cal fruit smoothies for your kids, or teach them to do it themselves (if they’re old enough).
A proven method of helping to control portion size is to serve food on smaller plates. Not only does it create the illusion of a larger serving, but it helps to limit the size of second helpings. It doesn’t work for everybody all the time, but it is worth a try!
Offering ice water with meals, instead of sugary soda and fruit drinks, is another simple, but healthy habit for the family. A slice of lemon or lime can add to both the taste and visual appeal.
There are literally dozens of other healthy food choices you can incorporate into your family’s diet, but I’ll leave those details to the nutritionists, dieticians, and medical professionals. There are also several authoritative websites online that can provide you with complete guidelines, recipes, healthy snacks, and meal plans.
What About Exercise?
As you’ve probably heard, a sedentary lifestyle is one of the leading causes of health problems in people of all ages. Fortunately, there are at least as many choices for staying physically active as there are excuses for avoiding it. Even if the idea of heading to the gym four times a week sounds about as appealing as being trapped in an elevator with a door-to-door salesman, there are plenty of other ways to stay in shape. Low-impact sports, such as golf, tennis, and swimming, can provide an array of benefits for both the mind and body. When all else fails, there’s always the option of taking a family walk in the park or neighborhood. Sometimes adding a dog into the mix can provide an additional incentive to go out and “hit the pavement.”
While all exercise and dietary programs should be approved by your physician before getting started, there are quite a few common-sense approaches to improving health, such as portion control, junk food reduction, and age-appropriate physical activity (taking in account medical restrictions and personal safety.)