Being Healthy as a Family

by NDFAuthors

  • Sep 12, 2014

Families, big or small, need to make healthy decisions together in regards to healthy foods and healthy habits.

The family that is healthy together, stays healthy together.

This should be the motto we follow as we live our lives. Families, big or small, need to make healthy decisions together in regards to healthy foods and healthy habits.

Healthy Foods

When it comes to what’s available in the home, that’s typically up to the adults, so it’s up to parents to make sure healthy food options are what children have to choose from. Be cognizant of the following when making options available:

  • Eat fruits and vegetables: Make sure everyone is eating enough fresh fruits and vegetables each day. Fruit could be frozen or as 100% fruit juice (with no sugar added). Vegetables can be as a snack or mixed into meals, like on a sandwich or a side salad.
  • Try reduced fat and reduced sugar: When buying milk, yogurt or cheese, reach for the non-fat option. Instead of butter for cooking, try olive or vegetable oil. And when reaching for a beverage, drink water rather than sweet sodas.
  • Limit sweets: “Treats” are great for special occasions, but not to have readily accessible all the time. Limit the sweets in your home and they’ll be even more special and appreciated when the time comes.
  • Portion control: Buying in bulk is a great way to save money, but take the time at home to divide foods into better, readily-available portions that make sense for the serving size.

A great way to have access to healthy foods like fruits and vegetables (and a fun activity for families) is to plant a garden. Start from seeds or potted plants and try tomatoes, eggplants, green peppers, figs and orange trees. Plants will be fun to watch grow and healthy to eat.


Healthy Habits

Be a role model: The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute says research shows children follow the lead of their parents. If parents eat well and move more, kids will too.

Eating together as a family is a great way to show good food behavior to your kids. According to the NHS in England, studies show that families who have regular meals at the table with no distractions are more likely to be a healthy weight. Structured meal times promote more structured eating habits. Also, children know to choose healthy foods by seeing their parents do so. Plus, the best bonus, it allows families to spend more time together. “When families come together to eat, they create an emotional harmony that I think is pretty sacred for long-term health,” advises Dr. Oz.

One very important meal to eat together is breakfast. NHS England says children who eat breakfast are less likely to overeat later in the day. The first meal of the day doesn’t have to be a huge production either: A bowl of low-sugar cereal, toast with nut butter or oatmeal and fruit are great, easy options.

Another healthy eating habit to have is to regulate where you eat. Food should be consumed at a kitchen table not on the couch while watching television. Television watching is an “inactive” activity and can lead to “mindless munching.” This means no television while eating meals and no snacking while watching television.

Staying active is also important and it’s more fun to be active with a group, which is great for families. There are so many activities a family can do together that gets their heart pumping (and are fun). Walking the dog, going for a hike and playing games at the beach are just a few examples. Even doing chores, while not the most fun, help a family move.


Talk About It

Choosing healthy foods and staying active are great habits for families, but in order for it to be understood (why are we doing these things?) and for the habits to continue, there needs to be a discussion. If children understand the reason behind these things, they’ll make the connection between good choices and how they are physically affected. In the long run, with this knowledge, children will be more likely to care and make the “better” lifestyle choices in the future. This means your family can continue to be healthy together for years to come.