Have you ever wished that ketchup were considered a vegetable? It would ease so much parental guilt.
The issue of family nutrition is ripe for guilt. The choices we as parents make have a direct effect on the health of each member of our family. Yet our daily life routine can make it difficult to create healthy mealtimes and habits. Still, until our kids reach a certain age, we are responsible for helping them make the choices that will guide them through adulthood.
Here are fourteen tips for giving your family a health makeover.
1. Do a Body Mass Index (BMI) check. Is everyone in your family at an optimal weight? Find out by using a BMI calculator (which you can find by doing a simple Google search for “BMI Calculator.” Enter the height and weight of each family member. Take a minute to talk about healthy weight and height and all the benefits of living a healthy life, from improved energy to the decreased likelihood of certain diseases. Make a plan together to help everyone get to his or her optimal weight in the months to come. There are lots of support networks and diets online that can help you achieve this end, for people of ages.
2. Write down your goals. As a family, write down what each person pledges to do in the coming weeks and months to become a healthier person. It is best to start with one or two specific goals. If you choose too many things at first, you are more likely to become overwhelmed and quit. Small changes can lead to big differences in your life.
3. Make your health goals into a family game. Talk about the healthy choices each person made each day. Reward these choices on a daily or weekly basis.
4. Cut down on soft drinks. Replace one or two sugary soft drinks or energy drinks each day with water. You can add a splash of lemon or lime juice if it helps make plain water more palatable at first. Once you start drinking a lot of water, you will begin to crave it, and you will no longer feel like the sugary drinks do much to quench your thirst.
5. Drink more water. A good rule of thumb is to drink one-half ounce of water for every pound of body weight. Calculate out how much water each person in your family should be drinking each day. Once you are hydrated, you may find that you sleep better and are better able to keep your moods on an even keel, too.
6. Eat breakfast together. Enjoying a family mealtime is a great way to stay emotionally connected. Start your day with the family by eating a nutritious breakfast. Make sure to include some form of lean protein to help you maximize your energy.
7. Exercise together. Think of ways you can combine family togetherness with exercise. Take a walk together in the evenings, and go sledding or bicycling on the weekend.
8. Is there anywhere you can walk instead of drive as a family? Or consider taking your bikes.
9. Subscribe to healthy living magazines and encourage everyone to read about the latest research on how nutrition affects our lives, and stay motivated to exercise and live a healthy, fit life. A good fitness magazine can be tremendously motivating.
10. Cut down on your television. If you do watch TV, watch it together as a family and use the programming as spark for family conversations.
11. Turn off the TV when you eat breakfast or dinner together. Without the accompaniment of TV or radio, you’ll be more aware of what you are eating, and how much you are eating. Plus, you will be able to more closely bond with your family during the meal. Start each meal with a ritual conversation starter. “What was the best thing about your day?” is a great one.
12. In addition to TV time, try limiting video games and computer time, too. Plan a family game night with a favorite board game. Do household chores together. Join an organized sports league.
13. Make healthy alternatives readily available. Set a bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen counter, as well as bowl of carrots, broccoli, sugar snap peas and raw broccoli.
14. Go easy on yourself. Remember that the example you set will be followed by your children. One of the most important methods for creating a healthy family is to make your health and fitness a priority by staying active and making nutritious food choices, and they likely will, too.