Did you know, that if one parent smokes or is overweight their child has about a 50% chance of smoking or being overweight themselves? That’s a pretty intense statistic. It’s easy to see that there’s more than just genetics making up these numbers. It’s more about family habits and not family genetics sometimes. Healthy families have some specific habits that set their families up for success.
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Healthy Families and Healthy Children
When families stay active and healthy together, not only does it help promote healthy habits for the rest of their children’s lives, but it improves their relationship as a family too. When we involve children in cooking, helping to choose healthy food options, as well as exercise together, like walking or biking, we are spending quality time together AND helping to create healthy patterns.
It’s also important that we are doing things with our children, instead of demanding that they do things. If you or your doctor are concerned that your child is overweight, you can’t start demanding that they walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes a day, or start cooking them healthy meals while everyone else eats pizza. It has to be a family effort.
Using food and exercise as a way of reward or punishment can also create an unhealthy relationship with food, exercise, and their body. It’s important to not use food as a reward, for example if your child gets an A on their report card, a chocolate sundae may not be the best reward for that. On the flip side, if your child needs to be punished, forcing them onto the treadmill is not the answer.
Creating Healthy Habits
- They Are Active – Healthy families are much more likely to choose active activities over sedentary activities. As a family they will take walks, ride bikes, swim, hike, and play. Moving around helps keep weight down, keeps your lungs working strong, and builds healthy bones. Aim to move at least 20 minutes a day to keep your family healthy. The parents may also encourage their children to be involved in school sports and activities, but should not force their children to join a sport the child doesn’t want to be involved in.
- They Eat Healthy – Healthy families stay away from fast food. They try to eat a lot of fruits and veggies and eat as close to nature as possible. By choosing fruits and veggies for snacks instead of package snacks that are full of salts and sugars. Cooking meals as a family is a great way to help teach their children healthy options. Plus, teaching their children to cook is a very valuable lesson when it comes to staying healthy for life.
- They Drink Water – Healthy families don’t drink their calories – it’s bad for their health and their waistline. They choose to drink water instead of sweet juices, teas, and sodas. Choosing water is one of the easiest ways to get healthier. Having a soda once in a while is not the end of the world though. We should always remember that moderation is key. Keeping reusable bottles on hand and a water filter on your tap can help everyone choose water.
- They Don’t Do Drugs – Healthy families avoid abusing alcohol, smoking, and illicit drugs. In fact, studies are finding diet and exercise are better treatments to illnesses like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Avoiding any type of illegal drugs will keep you healthier. On the other hand, they also make sure to take all their recommended physician prescribed medications.
- They Get Physicals – Healthy families are proactive and get yearly physicals so they can keep tabs on their health. When you get a physical the doctor checks your blood cholesterol levels, height to weight ratios, and your blood levels. Tests like these will help make sure you are meeting the proper nutrition levels and let people know what they need to add or remove from their diets. It also can give you a heads up on any medical issues your family might come across in the future, especially if they are hereditary.
- They Are Involved in Their Community – Healthy families aren’t all about themselves, they are involved in their community, volunteering their time to help those who are in need and less fortunate. They participate in things like Habitat for Humanity or Walk for the Cure events in their area. You can check your local city hall to see how you can get involved in your area. Volunteer work is a great way to give back to your community. It’s also very beneficial for our own mental health and well being.
Healthy Parents and Habits
These habits make it clear that to stay healthy as a family you need to pay attention to your body, eat right, drink plenty of water, and exercise. Healthy parents choose when to eat and how much their families need. Healthy parents ensure that everyone in the family stays active. Maybe the most important thing of all is that healthy families eat together at the dinner table as often as possible.
The best way for parents to ensure their children grow up and develop healthy habits is to be a good role model. Parents who choose healthy options and exercise regularly show their children that that’s an important part of life if you want to stay healthy.
It’s also important to speak to yourself in the same way you would speak to your children about their habits or weight. A parent who is constantly weighing themselves or picking themselves apart in the mirror shows their children how to do the same, and will make their children more self-conscious about their own bodies.
Doing What’s Best for Your Family
Not every family will implement the same strategies and habits toward a healthy lifestyle. Every family is different so everyone’s physical activity and meal plans will also look different.
You also need to make sure you aren’t being too hard on yourself. Things aren’t always going to go the way they are planned. Not everyday, week, or month will be the ‘healthiest’. Starting small, manageable habits will be what makes a lasting impact. You can’t change everything overnight.
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