In today’s world of quick meals, busy schedules and modern technology, it seems as though raising a healthy family is an impossible task. But it turns out this challenge isn’t an insurmountable one—with the right planning, tricks and outlook, anyone can succeed. Here are six tips to nurture your family through life, one day at a time.
Treat Their Taste Buds at a Young Age
Children are notoriously picky eaters, but every healthy meal doesn’t have to be a struggle or a standoff. Instead, introduce your little ones to fresh foods and flavors as soon as you can. Ensure that your weekly menu revolves around whole foods: no preservatives, sweeteners, coloring or other artificial additives. And, most importantly, remember that you have to eat these dishes, too. Kids tend to mimic their parents, so watching you eat healthily will inspire them to do the same.
Bring Only Goodness Into the House
In a similar vein, you’ll want to make sure you stock your pantry and fridge with foods that are nutritious. Every once in a while, of course, it’s okay to indulge and order pizza or serve up ice cream sundaes — or both. But, if you have those types of food on hand, your kids will have a hard time enjoying the healthier fare you want them to eat, according to Jake Hopkins and Jason Dames, personal trainers at the Y.
“If fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean protein (meat, fish, etc.) is all that’s to be found in the kitchen, your family will eat healthier by default,” Hopkins and Dames said. “Staying on course is much easier when temptation is minimized.” Have picky eaters who only like unhealthy entrees? “There are a lot of recipes out that allow for healthy alternatives,” the personal trainers add.
Eat Early—& Often
As far as food is concerned, this habit is another one to create: Eat early and often. For starters, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Even little ones have depleted their energy overnight, so a hearty dish at the start of the day gets them started on the right food.
Just make sure the breakfasts you’re whipping up are equal parts tasty and healthy. Kids will love smoothies, overnight oats, breakfast quesadillas and many other options, and you’ll be happy to see them eating well.
From there, it’s vital to provide your children with snacks and smaller meals throughout the day rather than sitting down for three large dishes. This schedule will prevent their hunger levels from dipping too low. They will be less likely to overeat, instead choosing to graze until they feel satisfied.
Encourage Daily Exercise
Some days, it probably seems as though your little ones don’t stop moving. But as they get a little older, it’ll be up to you to inspire them to keep their heart rates up with daily exercise. Hopkins and Dames say the best way to do it is to make sure that “exercise feels more like playtime. You’re much more likely to get everyone engaged at the end of a busy day,” they said.
Weather permitting, the personal trainers suggest activities like bike riding and organized sports. On rainy days, something like Wii-Fit, which incorporates physical movements into its video games, can also fit the bill.
If you’re too busy to schedule in play time, something as simple as parking the car far away from the store entrance or taking the stairs can get the blood pumping. “These small efforts can make a big difference in your daily activity,” Hopkins and Dames said.
Your brood shouldn’t always be left to entertain each other or themselves. Playing as a family will not only bring you closer together but also make everyone healthier through movement. With busy schedules, it can be hard to figure out when you can all get moving. However, you should be able to pencil in a 30-minute window every day when you can all do something together, according to Hopkins and Dames.
During this time, the personal trainers say you should have all devices powered down so that you can really be together as a family. “Whenever possible, take the activity outside or out of the home,” they suggest. “Not only does it increase physical activity, but it allows everyone to get some fresh air, sunlight and great conversation.”
Even if your kids are little, there are plenty of family activities that fit the personal trainers’ prescribed regimen. Family walks, hide-and-go-seek, dance parties and more can get everyone moving memorably.
Cultivate an Environment of Calm
Finally, a well-rounded approach to health should include methods to improve your children’s state of mind. The best way to do this is to create a calm environment in which they grow up. You never know the type of curveballs life will throw your way, but you can control the way you react — especially in front of your kids.
At some point, they will have to learn how to handle stressors that come with growing up and fending for themselves. For that, teach your kids healthy ways to deal with the unexpected. Kiddie yoga, mellow music, meditation and deep breathing can all help you and your children to be calmer, more centered individuals.
Now They’re Nurtured!
Even in the fast pace of today’s world, you can provide your family with the nourished, happy, healthy upbringing that you envision. All it takes is a little bit of effort, and you’ll get the ultimate joy and satisfaction in return.