If one person has a weight issue in the family, it is actually the entire family’s issue. Everyone in the family needs to embrace a healthier lifestyle. Recent studies show that maintaining long-term change requires the involvement of the entire family.
Here are ways to integrate a healthy lifestyle into your family’s daily living:
Cook more at home. Cooking at home allows you to control the ingredients and quantities of what you eat, which is key for living a healthier lifestyle.
Right size your dishware. In fact, it is important to have right-sized dishware for your children too. Studies show that one of the reasons children are combatting obesity is because we are serving them on adult sized dishware which is causing them to fill their plates too full and overeat at every meal. (Check out Kidliga for right-sized plates for kids.)
Plan your menus for the week ahead. Go to the grocery store with a specific list to avoid impulse buying. This will save you money, time and the frustration of buying foods you know you shouldn’t be eating.
Snacks are an important part of the plan. We consume about half of our calories in snacks each day. Just like with our meals, we need to pay attention to how healthy they are. It is best if they are home made and ready to go. If your kids come home at a set time each day and you are home or a babysitter is there, have a snack set out on the counter and ready to eat. It can be dip with veggies, homemade cookies (just enough for everybody to have two), a smoothie or any number of other tasty and healthy ideas. If no one is home when kids get home have single serving snacks like cookies or muffins ready to pull out of the freezer or better yet, waiting on the counter when they get home. Easy and portable makes it doable and more likely to be eaten.
Use specific recipes as part of your menu planning. Picking recipes from websites that promote healthy eating, like CookingLight.com, myrecipes.com or my blog ensures you are using the healthiest ingredients and portioning correctly. The added benefit of doing this is that with the menus planned and the recipes chosen, the groceries needed are in the house and anyone can help with the preparation of the meal. When our kids were growing up and both of us had full time jobs I planned our menus each Sunday and went to the grocery store the same day. Each day our schedules were different. Whoever got home first started preparing the meal so that no one had too eat too late. I have a great Menu Plan sheet I have developed. If you email me at sheila@LivligaHome.com I’d be happy to send it to you.
Have kids be responsible for designing a menu at least once a week. Make sure it is a balanced meal. For menu ideas go to eatright.org/kids or LivligaHome.com/kidliga and check out the recipe section.
Have the kids help prepare the food at meals. Studies show that if children participate in making their meal they are more apt to enjoy the food and try new things.
Make sure to sit down and eat your meals. It should be at a table specifically designated for eating. There should be no other distractions, like having the TV on. If we are distracted we tend to be unaware of what we are eating and then tend to eat more.
Even if because of the kid’s activities you can’t all eat at once each person can eat their meal and sit while doing it. When my kids were young, everyone was busy with sports. Two did ice hockey. No matter what time they came home at night they had dinner waiting for them and my husband and I would sit and talk to them while they ate finding out about their practice and their day.
Teach your kids to read food labels. Make it a game to find a certain ingredient. For more fun healthy activities go to LivligaHome.com and click on the tab “Kidliga” for fun coloring pages and mazes that highlight healthy eating ideas.
Read to your kids. Find books at the library that have kids active and curious. See if you can find books that include positive messages about self-image, health and eating. As an example, try out the book Sammie and Sax in the Land of Quinoa: The search for a Balanced Meal.
Participate in a cooking class. Search around for a parent and kids cooking class and sign the family up. You can find classes through culinary schools, gourmet kitchen stores, and even through your local Parks and Recreation.
Go on field trips to the Farmer’s Market. There you and your kids can learn more about fresh foods and what is in season. Have your child pick something new each week you can all learn to cook and eat.
More Family Healthy Lifestyle ideas:
Plan regular family activities that involve getting up and moving. It can be as simple as spending the day walking around the zoo or going to a local park with a picnic and a Frisbee.
Make exercising together a regular routine. For example, make it a habit to take a walk after dinner each night as a family. Make sure to include the dog.
On weekends make it a habit to watch less TV. Make it a game night instead. Make it fun and active like dance contests or Twister.
Take up a family sport like tennis or biking. Make it part of a regular routine. Consider joining a tennis group or local sports club to make it a legitimized commitment.
Plan family vacations that include physical activities and movement. Go camping at a national park. Or if you are planning to go to the beach, take walks a long the shore and look for “sea glass”.
Update family holidays to fit with a healthy lifestyle. Re-tool the menus to be healthy, delicious and satisfying. Make sure to include a family touch football game or other fun team sport as part of the tradition.
Some Final advice:
If the family is struggling with eating way too many sweets and/or sugary beverages do not try to go cold turkey. Instead start introducing healthier choices. It is better to provide choice without taking anything away initially. Some items can be changed out with out making it a big deal. For example, if your family drinks Gatorade, consider replacing it with G2. And if the family loves chocolate chip cookies, start baking your own and find a healthier recipe. Try my Rosemary Chocolate Chip Cookies as an option.
Incorporate the healthy lifestyle ideas that sound the most positive and doable to you. One change, made into a new habit, can make a big difference. Adding more changes over time makes your commitment to a healthy lifestyle sustainable.
Being healthy is a way of living. It is all about how we live our lives…every part of it. Everybody included.
Enjoy! And Live Vibrant!