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Taking small steps toward a healthier family

November 23, 2011

A strong and wholesome family does not simply grow overnight. There is no magic trick for attaining health. A healthy family is healthy because of their day-to-day choices; it’s a lifestyle. Taking small steps toward health will add up and make a big impact over time.

Healthy habits can be learned, and for your kids to adopt them they need to learn by example from their role models, YOU!  It’s easier than you think to get your kids to eat healthy; we just have to show them. To do that, let’s not focus on the big picture right now; let’s think about the next healthy step you can make.

  1. Acknowledge their healthy habits. Verbally praising your child for their healthy habits can provide motivation for them to continue. It’s best when we give them nuggets of encouragement instead of scolding them for their less than healthy behaviors.
  2. Get active together. Enjoying movement together is a powerful tool for getting your kids (and you) to be more physically active. Kids like to have a play pal, so next time instead of saying “no”, why not find activities that you both love? Try roller skating, swimming, walking after dinner, feeding the ducks, throwing the ball, playing frisbee, or hiking.
  3. Be consistent. Sending dependable messages provides the structure that kids need for understanding responsibility and expectations. Stick to your healthy boundaries in setting limits on TV, video games, phone use, bed time, etc.  Don’t give up with pickier eaters either. Consistently provide fruits and veggies to your child since it may take 20 attempts at feeding particular foods before they accept them.
  4. Provide meal patterns. As a parent, it is your job to decide which foods to feed your child and the atmosphere in which they eat. Give them meals and snacks at reliable times to maintain energy levels and regulate the appetite, keeping kids (and adults) from going hungry or overeating.
  5. NO clean your plate club. It is best not to enforce rules regarding how much your child should eat. In fact, your child’s little body knows how much it needs to eat for life and growth.  When we interfere with that process we undermining their internal signals of hunger and fullness and disrupt their body’s natural growth pattern.
  6. Eat with them. Since you are the role model, meal time is the best place to teach table manners, enjoy conversations, and to form a good relationship with food. If you eat your veggies, your child will be more likely to like them, too!
  7. Give the right kind of rewards. If you are encouraging healthier food choices and rewarding your kids with unhealthy foods, this is sending mixed messages. It reinforces poor eating habits and coping mechanisms too, and can lead to…“I’ve been good today, so I deserve a treat”, and “I’ve been bad so I should skip a meal or snack”. Instead use verbal praises, stickers, free time, privileges, and other non-food items the kids enjoy.

Small changes make a significant difference.  What is your next right step for a healthier family?  Share your baby steps with us; we love to hear from you!