How Can I Help My Family Get Healthier?

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healthy-family

As the member of a growing family, I’ve found that taking care of my health comes a whole lot easier when I have the proper support. Though all my husband really has to do is cut out dessert, or exercise a whopping two times per week to get fit (infuriating, yes), having common goals makes all the difference in motivating us both to do better. Likewise, the minute I get knocked-up, turn into a barf bag and my workouts get flushed, he immediately becomes a slug and packs on the “sympathy weight.” This is also true for other times I fall off the wagon, but my current (pregnant) situation proves this point pretty accurately.

Though my husband may have an easier time toning it up than myself due to his chemical make-up, good choices are contagious. Spouses and children that see good habits happening on a day-to-day basis are likely to have an easier time engaging in them without question. It just becomes part of the daily flow.

Here are a few simple tips to make getting healthy together part of that daily flow…

1. Take a family walk after dinner. This is great habit to start taking part in for several reasons. The first is of course the added calorie burn you’ll get from walking, as opposed to plopping in front of the boob-tube or the Ipad (you can always do that afterwards). But the second is digestion. You will actually digest your food quicker and improve blood sugar levels from even a short walk of about fifteen minutes.

2. Stock up on “good treats”. Good treats are basically healthy, yet satisfying foods that your family enjoys. Popcorn is a great example or chopped strawberries with a drizzle of chocolate. Having these types of snacks highly available will lead to more good choices and less bingeing. Remember, a treat doesn’t have to mean something terrible. A treat can be a delicious and healthy food that nourishes, too.

3. Make healthy meals together. Allowing kids to participate in cooking often makes them more psyched to eat foods they may not usually be stoked about. It’s more satisfying to eat something you helped chop, stir or season, rather than something that just appeared on your plate. Likewise…

4. Let kids partake in grocery shopping. This is another great way to get kids involved with mealtime preparation. Let them pick the vegetables you’re going to use for making dinner. Giving them some amount of choice in the process can have a lot of positive impact on their willingness to eat whatever it is.

5. Don’t practice deprivation. Not with kids, not with yourself- not with anybody! Depriving yourself of something completely leads to more desire for that something. If you tell kids “no sweets” as a rule, they will likely believe sweets to be the greatest and most amazing thing in the universe and seek them out. Allowing a bit of those guilty pleasures is actually a healthy practice, as long as it doesn’t go overboard.

6. No phones or TV on at the dinner table. There are a lot of reasons that screens at the table is not a good idea, but in terms of health it just doesn’t serve you. Even being partially distracted by a phone or the tv on in the background leads to more unconscious overeating. Instead, practice enjoying every bite. It’s a much more pleasurable way to eat anyway!

7. Have a cheat day and don’t feel guilty about it. Having a day once in a while where you allow yourself to eat whatever you’ve been craving or slack off on the healthy rules you’ve set for yourself can actually re-motivate you in the long run. I’m not telling you to eat half a chocolate cake on Sunday evening, but if you do, it’s not the end of the world. It may motivate you to try harder come Monday morning. Having a cheat-week of course, is more detrimental. It’s important not get hung up on the less than perfect diet or exercise choices you make so that you can easily get back into the swing of your healthy habits.

8. Eat every two to three hours. If you’re going long stretches throughout the day without eating, typically more than four or five hours, your body goes into “starvation mode” which means your metabolism comes to a screeching halt. Once you become accustomed to eating more often, you will be hungry more often. This is actually a good thing because it means your body is burning up calories, rather than storing them. Things like fruit, nuts and yogurt will help to keep your energy up and your metabolism working well. This is equally, if not more important, for growing kids.

9. Go outside even if you’re laying in a hammock. This has little to do with being more active and everything to do with exercising the calming centers of your brain. Being outdoors is therapeutic (for you and your kids!). So eat dinner on the front porch, dig in the garden or just lay in the grass and look at the stars because, no, there’s not an app for any of that! You may find that a little time spent outdoors helps everyone sleep better, as well, which if you ask this exhausted mama, is pretty darn worth it.

10. Dance it out. Even if 5 o’clock is typically happy hour at your house, you can still crank up the tunes and get moving. If you’re a stay-at-home parent, it can be a refreshing way to just let everything go at the end of a stressful day. Likewise, if you’re busy working a desk job it will probably feel good to move your body and enjoy some quality care-free time with your kids. It’s an instant mood-booster, a calorie-scorcher and good old fashioned, ridiculous-looking fun. Just make sure the blinds are closed.

Comments

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  1. 1

    lesbomom says

    Love these tips. Thanks so much. My Wifey is similar to your husband in that she can just think about going to the gym and her body reacts.

    We have recently moved and therefore the last month or so has completely disrupted our normal healthy-ush Eating patterns. We really need to get back to it as I have put on about ten pounds in the last 6 weeks! Gggrrrrr

    We do practice no electronics at the table and enjoy our dinner together as a family, still. Living in the frosen tundra makes it difficult to get out and walk in the winter but now that things re thawing we are looking forward to it. And I love your tip about getting the kids to help make dinner. My Munchkin helps with the meal plan (when I am in the habit of making one) and she thinks its awesome .

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  2. 2

    sammie says

    I love this so much!! I’m naturally inclined to eat healthy foods, I genuinely love (always have) fruits and veggies. My husband not so much. AT ALL. He never grew out of his picky eater phase, but the most frustrating part is (like your husband) if he just THINKS about losing weight, getting fit, etc. he does. It’s like it takes no effort!

    But, we’ve stepped our game even more recently, because as I’ve been stressing to him, just being a healthy weight is only part of the battle. You still need to make healthy choices, exercise, etc. to make sure that your body as a whole unit is working optimally. And we are getting there, he’s far more on board than ever before which makes me even MORE motivated to exercise, keep up with my water intake, etc.

    I know modeling these healthy behaviors is so important for kids, and I’m proud that we are able to do that. And treat ourselves without guilt ;) Great post!!!

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  3. 3

    says

    This is great! A reminder to get out and get active with my kids, which (esp with the Never-ending Winter from Hell) I don’t do enough of. I have one more:

    11. Ditch the artificial colours! It’s doing more harm than anyone probably realizes. While we’re at it, let’s ditch the artificial sweeteners too. Our kids bodies are so little and developing so quickly, and all this artificial stuff really does harm.

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  4. 4

    says

    LOVE THIS! These are all really simple and easy to implement ideas. I especially love the family walking in the evenings. We do this, and it’s a great time for talking and sharing!

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  5. 5

    says

    great tips!
    My husband doesn’t like much healthy food so I find it hard to find healthy meals for the both of us. Our daughter is eating more table food now so I’m really trying to eat better for her.
    I wish we had time to walk after dinner but we’re already so rushed to get her into bed after dinner that it just doesn’t fit into our schedule :(

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