We all want the kids around us to be healthy and to have the best chance at growing up with great habits. But there are lots of kids who struggle with vegetables and other healthy habits. So what can we do?
Kids are fantastic mimics. Because of that, the adults around them have the best opportunity to create these healthy habits for the young people who are depending on them. The fact is that healthy adults can help kids grow up to be even healthier adults. Here are five ways we can do that.
Cooking nutritious meals at home may be the best way to live a healthy lifestyle. Instead of going out or getting takeout foods, cooking at home provides an opportunity to take control of what’s in the food. It’s also an excellent way to promote healthy choices creating an environment rich with learning. And when you're at home, you're in charge of your portion sizes.
For older family members who have grandkids, cooking can also be a great way to add some bonding time into the day. How many of us have great memories of cooking with grandma? We can create those memories that grandchildren will treasure later, along with sharing healthy recipes they can make for a lifetime.
Exercising is an integral part of any healthy lifestyle, and it may help families grow stronger both physically and mentally to do it together. Teaching kids through example that exercise is a vital choice of every day models for them a skill they can carry forward. When people exercise, they may build muscle, burn off extra calories, and may also reduce stress levels and produce more endorphins to feel better overall. By exercising with kids or grandkids, everyone has the opportunity to get moving and enjoy some time together.
Getting exercise doesn’t have to be at the gym, either. Families can play active games at home, go for a bike ride, swim, roller skate, or play a sport in a park or elsewhere in the community to encourage physical activity. Racket sports can be fantastic for fitness and family time alike.
Families that eat meals together may have healthier lifestyles, too. Dieticians recommend eating at least one meal a day together, five days per week. For most families, that’s dinner on weekdays. But if that doesn’t work for a particular family, they may want to adjust the days and times to what’s right for them.
When families eat together, they may build stronger bonds amid higher levels of interaction. Including grandparents in these meal times also helps grandkids develop bonds with older members of their family. That family closeness and support may promote healthier habits for everyone involved.
And when you're sitting at that table, talk about the food. Tell the kids why you used this seasoning or how you cut the fat levels. Healthy food subjects don't have to be lectures, just talk about your choices to help kids learn.
Walking is good exercise and often it's readily available outside the living space. When families take walks together, it promotes healthy habits and makes exercising and moving a normal part of life.
For those who may not be able to walk well, such as very young children or anyone with health problems, strollers, wagons, wheelchairs or other mobility assistance may work to keep them included and get everyone out of the house on an adventure together. A balance bike is a fun way to take a walk with a youngster and let them work on a skill while also building fitness. Taking a walk after the evening meal is a great habit to work on.
Being mindful is one of the best ways to live a healthier life. It helps promote relaxation and stress reduction. Even small children or older people who are retired still need to destress from life. Everyone needs some mental downtime they can enjoy.
When family practices being mindful together, the children learn mental health habits and the importance of self-care. Older family members too may find a safety and sense of peace in practicing mindfulness, which is just as important as physical health.
We teach children how to live by living. And our habits can become their habits, too. Whether that's telling ourselves that we're beautiful every time we look in the mirror or choosing to skip the burger and go for the salad, rest assured that little eyes are watching. It may not seem like they're picking up the habits as quickly as we'd like, but as they come into their own, the habits will be there to help them make good adult choices. Healthy habits created and continued as a family teach children a healthy lifestyle. We can make it easier for them to carry good habits into adulthood and hopefully they will in turn teach their own children to live a healthy life, as well.
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