26
Jun
By: Jen Johnson

Is your family leading an unhealthy lifestyle? Is your family eating too many processed fatty foods? Are your kids spending too much free time on devices or watching TV? Are your worried about your kids’ weight and long term health?

Health is a family affair and lifestyle has a major impact on the chances of the younger family members becoming overweight. The number of children who are overweight in the US has grown at an alarming rate and studies state that 1 out of 3 kids are considered overweight or obese. Many children are spending more time in front of the TV, tablet, games console and less time exercising. This, combined with busy lifestyles means the family is consuming less nutritious, home cooked meals and often defaulting to processed food.

If your family is leading an unhealthy lifestyle and you want to do something about it then congratulations!!! Changing habits that have developed over a long period of time are difficult to break, to help your family along this journey we’ve detailed some strategies to help the whole family embrace a healthier lifestyle:

Food and Nutrition

Eat Breakfast – This will reduce the chance of overeating during the day. Avoid sugar loaded cereals and substitute for healthy items such as porridge with fruit or whole meal toast with peanut butter.

Eat at the Table & Together – Make meal times family time, use this time to connect with each other without distractions such as Television.

Ban “Sweetened” Drinks from the House – Carbonated drinks, sports drinks and milky drinks with added sugar, even 100% fruits juices are all loaded with calories. If these types of drinks are freely available at home the higher the tendency to drink them. Persuade your children to drink water instead, add a sliced orange to add flavor or even make a fresh fruit smoothie.

Reduce Portions – Portion sizes have increased over time and is one of the main contributors to obesity. Start meals with small portions and take more if hungry, many people are programmed to clear their plate so filling up the plate at the start of the meal will result in overeating.

Homemade Meals – This is a little more time consuming but it gives you the ability to control the ingredients by looking at the food labels, using healthier alternatives and limit the amount sugar and salt.

Exercise

Family Activities – Include the whole family in day to day activities like walking the dog or washing the car. Plan activities together like a family bike ride to get the kids excited so they won’t see it as exercise, make this a ritual the whole family does regularly regardless of the weather or how you feel!!

Get Active on Vacation – Usually this is a time for everyone to kick back and relax which inevitably leads unhealthy eating. Instead of carrying out your normal vacation routine, participate in the activities like swimming, exploring the local area or active excursions. You could even try an activity focused break such as cycling, hiking, camping or choose a destination where there are a variety of activities.

Behavior Modification

Lead by Example – A key aspect to getting healthy or losing weight is behavior modification, your kids will only buy into the new lifestyle if you lead by example. View the new healthy regime as an exciting new chapter of your lives and the additional time you will spend together will serve to develop a closer family bond.

Limit Television / Device Time – Decrease the time everyone watches television and use tablets or games consoles; use this time for physical activities such as going to a park, walking or playing ball games.

Make Smart Choices – There will be times you may grab a burger or the kids have some candy, occasionally these things are perfectly fine but do not regress into old habits.

Celebrate – Once you adopt a healthy lifestyle you will feel more energetic and will begin to lose weight. When you or a family member achieve a milestone like weight loss celebrate the successes together, seeing your kids getting healthy will be an amazing feeling and will give you everyone the encouragement to keep going.
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