For most of us, life’s schedule is full at best and chaotic at worst, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is not a feat for the faint of heart. If you are a busy individual, then doing things like eating right and exercising regularly can be challenging.
If you have children, you’re not just worried about your own health, but about their health as well. It can seem like you’re being asked to juggle too many balls. However, there are lifestyle shifts that your family is likely capable of, which can promote the wellbeing of your children, without making you pull your hair out.
Lead by example
Despite the fact that we live in a world with an over-abundance of parenting books, there are few parenting tactics that are actually tried and true. However, one standard that has stood the test of time is that kids learn better when they see things being lived out.
Telling a child, “Do as I say, and not as I do.” is not going to have successful long-term effects. Even the youngest of us can sniff out hypocrisy. So if you’re truly invested in the health of your children, you’re going to live in a manner that proves you believe in the merit of investing in your well-being.
So if you’re putting a lot of dark, green veggies on their dinner plates they’ll be far more likely to believe there is value in those veggies if they are also on your plate. If you’re promoting 30 minutes of exercise either get out there and sweat with your kids, or make sure they know where you’re fitting the exercise into your schedule.
What’s on the table matters
Kids are notorious for loving foods that are less than nutritionally ideal. Give a kid a choice between a hot dog and a kale salad, and nine times out of ten they’re going to go for the hot dog. And in terms of taste, can you blame them?
Actively investing in what your kids are consuming is oftentimes going to mean cutting down on pre-made, highly processed foods. While there has been a decline in the amount of calories kids are consuming, overall their meals are still largely too high in fat and sodium, and that’s attributed to too much fast food.
The key to combating this issue is to take a creative approach to preparing their food. Thanks to the internet, you’re likely just a short search away from finding healthier approaches to preparing their favorite foods. It’s not about cutting everything out, but rather seeing it in a new light. Even a traditional crowd pleaser like pizza, can become a lighter option that still appeals to the masses.
Issues like heart health, which we typically associate with the older members of society, can impact your children if they don’t have access to good nutrition.That may seem like an extreme connection to make, but not even 3 percent of Americans have what counts as a healthy lifestyle.
Find activities that work for your kids
The CDC recommends that kids should have an hour of physical activity every day and that three days a week that activity should be vigorous. For some kids, this will happen fairly naturally without much prompting, but for others they may need some extra help.
The key to getting your kids, even those who don’t gravitate towards physical activity, to stay active is to make sure they have access to things that they enjoy and that they have the right motivation to stay committed to those activities. Just as you may love the elliptical but hate the treadmill, your kids will be more likely to remain active if they’re doing something compelling.
So talk to them about what they enjoy, and be willing to be flexible. Your daughter may think she wants to play soccer, until she actually starts playing the game. And then she may dabble in some tennis, and then some gymnastics, and then some rock climbing. It may take a while to figure out her niche. If that’s the type of situation you find yourself in, it may be tempting to throw your hands up, and give up.However, you never know when you’re on the cusp of discovering what could-be a lifelong passion of your child!
The most important component of your child’s health, is you
Parents want their children to thrive in all facets of their lives, and the idea that they might not be thriving is stressful. This is especially true given the fact that, usually, we know our kids better than anyone else. We can typically spot the places where growth would be beneficial.
The point of all of this is not that you should freak-out or panic. This isn’t about rigidly cutting out any and all food that isn’t stuffed with nutrients. This is not a cry to banish all lazy Saturday mornings.
What this is about is seeing that as a parent, even if it doesn’t always feel like it, you have the potential for maximum impact. Nothing matters more to your kid’s future than you; if you’re invested in their health and well-being, they are far more likely to be too.