Raising children is incredibly rewarding, but it is not easy. Often, the act of parenting is where you learn that you have some gaps in knowledge and some previously unrealized bad habits. So you find yourself in need of improvement as well as responsible for raising your children better. Luckily, children love to learn with their parents. Their happiness often comes from doing activities with their parents.
Thus, inculcating healthy habits in them is as easy as learning the habits yourself. Naturally, this is easier said than done. If your family mainly eats processed foods, then you may have gotten your children used to a high sugar and salty diet that makes them lethargic and unwilling to be active. This can only be remedied by buying fresh produce and introducing a family walk every day.
A lack of rigid dental hygiene practices in your childhood may have translated into a lack of knowledge in your children about proper dental care. This can be remedied by finding a reputable family dentist and making the bi-annual checkups into a family activity.
Children imitate their parents to such an extent that their future well-being depends on seeing you make healthy choices now. A healthy and active lifestyle can also help to bring families together. Not only will it give you a better quality of life now, but it will also help to prevent common health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension.
A healthy breakfast is important for giving energy and the needed fuel to start the day right. Both children and parents will benefit from eating well before going to work. Both schoolwork and office activities require focus, energy, and stamina. A good breakfast will ensure that you can supply all this to get the most out of your day.
Cooking together as a family is a good way to teach your children about nutrition. Even cooking one meal a week together can teach them about healthy eating and help them learn kitchen skills that will benefit them throughout their life.
Families that eat at least one meal together report more closeness and a better relationship with each other. Eating together allows parents to check in with their children, keep track of each child’s progress in school, and notice any worrying changes they may need to address. Children get to see their parents interact with each other and their siblings. This teaches them how to show affection, have fun, and set boundaries about how they will and will not allow others to treat them.
The way you eat is important as well. Encourage everyone to take time to chew well and pay attention to their body. Allow the children to choose their own portion sizes, so they can learn to recognize their limits. This teaches them to recognize true hunger, identify when they are satiated, and stop eating. This is very important in helping children to prevent overeating and learning to trust their bodies.
Mindful eating also requires you to pay more attention to what you eat. Refined grains are unhealthy, while whole grains contain more nutrients. Reduce the amount you eat carbohydrates and make protein portions bigger. Introduce more vegetables into your meals and make all dessert options into fresh fruits.
The healthiest drink is water, but it can be difficult to get all your hydration from water as the lack of taste makes children reluctant to drink enough. Introduce low-fast and low-calorie drinks into their daily diet to encourage them to stay hydrated. Fresh fruit juices are better than store-bought juices. Slowly start reducing the sugar level in your iced teas and lemonade till you and your children no longer enjoy the sweetness of refined sugars.
Being more active needs to go hand in hand with eating better. While healthy eating practices are easier to apply for both parents and children, getting enough exercise can be harder. Thus, focus on what you can do. Starting small and making incremental changes can often be more effective than an intense short-term effort that is unsustainable in the long term.
Encourage your whole family to take a walk together after dinner. This will help improve metabolism and allow your family to continue conversations they started at dinner. This helps to make the exercise feel less rigid and make it more enjoyable. Begin playing games with your children every weekend. The idea is to do a fun activity they enjoy that will help them to burn calories and helps them to enjoy being active.
Install a basketball hoop in the backyard or buy a Frisbee and take the children and the pet dog to a park. Take a weekend class in yoga or kickboxing with your children as a way to get exercise, as well as show them that it is never too late to learn something new.