Healthy eating, exercise, avoiding prolonged periods of time sitting, and getting enough sleep are the keys to good health for adults and kids. Adopting a healthy lifestyle at a young age can decrease a child’s chance of developing type 2 diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and heart disease.
Living a healthy lifestyle is often easier said than done. Families are busier than ever, have more access to unhealthy foods, and are less active than they once were. The families we see in our HealthWorks! clinic struggle with these same things: They want and need reliable information, but don’t always have enough time to seek it out and consume it.
That’s why we created a series of short videos to help families learn what they need to know to be successful. These 26 short clips offer tips on the topics of meal planning, eating out, portion control, strength training, and screen time to name a few. Here are some bigger-picture takeaways to get families started:
4 Tips To Achieve A Healthier Lifestyle
1. Make Changes As A Family.
The families who have been the most successful have made changes together as a unit. Collectively they all focus on eating healthy, avoiding sugary drinks, exercising and sleeping well. That way, no one family member feels singled out and everyone reaps the benefits.
2. Keep It Positive.
Embracing change is hard! Kids are more likely to respond if we can keep these adjustments positive.
Celebrate the small wins. Congratulate your kids when they make good choices at a special occasion, such as choosing fruit instead of a second cookie.
Offer an incentive to help your children stay focused on changes they are working toward. Let’s say they meet a goal such as picking a healthy breakfast with protein and fiber five days in a row, rather than skipping breakfast or eating one loaded with sugar. Perhaps they can then choose which active game your family will play during the evening.
3. Set Small Yet Challenging Goals.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle can feel a little overwhelming. That’s why we recommend families start with setting small, achievable goals and building from there. I suggest making the goals a little challenging so that your family starts to see results and will be more likely to maintain motivation, but not so challenging that it is difficult to succeed. An example could be setting a goal to cook a healthy family dinner at home 3-4 times a week.
4. Use Reliable Information.
Families wanting to start and/or achieve a healthy lifestyle may turn to the Internet or even popular trends for help. After first checking with your doctor, we recommend using reliable sources of information. Good ones include Choose My Plate, Kids Eat Right, and, of course, our collection of healthy living videos from our HealthWorks! team.
The rise in rates of diabetes, heart disease and fatty liver disease in children cannot be attributed to one single thing. It’s a complicated picture with a lot of factors at play. Certainly, we are less physically active than we used to be. We’re watching screens more and playing less outside. Our food is more processed than it once was. Drinks contain more sugar. Most of us are consuming less fiber and eating fewer fruits and vegetables than we once did.
Adopting a healthier lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle, but I want you to know that there are people and resources that can help. If you are concerned about your kids’ health, speak with their main doctor about it. He or she can offer help. Your doctor may refer you to a family-based program for kids with overweight conditions, such as HealthWorks!