A healthy home is a happy home, but trying to do the right thing for the wellbeing of your family can often be trickier than it appears. With the sheer amount of junk food out there, workplaces becoming more sedentary environments and the activity levels of children dropping significantly in recent years, keeping your family healthy is harder than it’s ever been.
Fortunately, there’s a lot that can be done to improve the health of our loved ones. Some simple changes to the way you deal with food, exercise and medical issues can allow everyone to thrive.
Keep Food Simple
While we’re becoming more adept at reading food labels in general (and the manufacturers actually providing real information), it’s still frightening how much sugar and artificial preservatives are in most pre-packaged food. With Americans averaging around 20 teaspoons of sugar every day, finding a way of reducing the amount your family eats is vital to their health.
The most basic thing you can do is to cook meals at home using fresh ingredients like meat, vegetables and seasonings. By avoiding pre-packaged sauces and limiting your intake of low value carbohydrates like pasta and bread you can vastly reduce the amount of sugar your family eats each day.
If you’re short of time (and who isn’t!?) then there’s plenty of meals that can be made in batches and frozen, ready for warming up and eating later in the week. Keep meals like breakfast simple and avoid things like sugary cereal, and aim to take pre-made lunches to work and school rather than eating fast food.
It’s all too easy to throw yourself down on the sofa after a hard day at work or school, but by committing to regular exercise you’ll find that you all have more energy throughout the day. Start slowly by heading out for a family walk in the mornings or after dinner and you’ll start to feel the cumulative effect of a healthier body in no time.
Encourage your kids to take part in sports – it’s an excellent social activity and it’ll help keep them healthy while they have fun with their friends. There’s a ton of options out there, from martial arts to football, so try a few new sports to find something they enjoy.
The same goes for parents! While the gym isn’t for everyone, there’s plenty of fitness classes, running clubs and dance classes to get you on your feet and building up a sweat!
Listen To Your Kids
You’ll probably find that your kids will be the first ones to call you out on anything you’re doing that’s bad for your health. Young people are increasingly aware of the dangers of alcohol, smoking and weight gain, and are often the first ones to pester you to quit smoking or drinking or to lose those extra few pounds!
A recent study found that 63% of kids encourage their parents to get more exercise and improve their diet, while a third thought they should cut down on alcohol and a quarter were actively trying to get their parents to stop smoking.
If there’s one reason to look after yourself it’s for the benefit of your children, so if they’re voicing concerns over your health then it’s probably time to take a look at your lifestyle and make some changes. You’re setting an example to them, so by living a healthier lifestyle you’ll be encouraging habits which will keep your kids fitter and happier as they grow older.
Small, incremental changes made gradually over time are much easier to stick to than a huge overhaul of your lifestyle. Start out slow, say by committing to cooking dinner from scratch 4 nights a week and going for a walk afterwards. As you start doing this regularly it’ll become a routine, and you’ll find it easier to start adding in more healthy habits over time. Before you know it you’ll be a family in great shape.
U.S Department of Health and Human Services – National Institutes of Health
U.S Heart disease and stroke awareness charity – American Heart Association
Health insurance provider – AXA PPP healthcare