FIT for Women, Health & Wellness

Living healthy is a family affair

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By The Edith Sanford team

June 25, 2014

family having mealIs exercise a dirty word at home? Would the family rather stare at separate little screens than speak during a meal?

No matter which (or all) of these apply to you, there’s a way to bring the whole family along on the road to a healthier lifestyle. It’s never too late to start adopting healthy habits around the home that can help prevent chronic diseases, like cancer, later down the road.

1. Start small

A sure-fire way to upset the family applecart is to institute a tsunami of healthy-living edicts.

Little changes are key to ease spouses and kids into better habits. Instead of declaring vegetarianism, start with one or two meatless days per week so doubters can get used to new recipes while not having to give up old favorites. Or, begin making over one meal at a time (healthy breakfasts for all!), and move on to lunch or dinner after the first change becomes old hat.

By being respectful of how your family reacts to change, you’ll go a lot further in getting them to welcome new, healthy habits.

2. All in

No one likes to be singled out, especially when it comes to topics as sensitive as weight, diet and fitness.

If one member of your family needs help developing healthier habits, make sure the whole crew is all in. Don’t make “diet” meals for one and “normal” meals for others — you’ll make healthy eating seem like a punishment. Don’t just encourage the less fit child to go out and play — make sure the expectation of active play applies to everyone.

The best way to help one family member is to make sure the other family members are an active support system, not just bystanders.

3. Be a role model

Anyone who has ever had a toddler repeat a dirty word or an offhand remark about your mother-in-law’s cooking knows that kids are always watching and listening. That extends to how parents eat and exercise (or don’t).

When grown ups eat fast food and spend hours online, they don’t have a lot of credibility when telling kids to eat their veggies and turn off the TV. Be a role model for the young people in your life. Show them there’s fun to be had offline and lots of tasty food to be had in the produce section. They’ll notice!

4. Offer smart choices

The family can’t binge on cookies and chips when they aren’t in the cupboard, right?

Influence the way your household eats by making smart choices at the grocery store. You can feel good about letting kids pick their own snacks when their options are fruit, fruit, veggies or fruit!

In the face of junk food commercials and more and more reasons to watch or Facebook or tweet instead of playing outside, it can seem like a daunting task to help steer your family toward healthy choices and a more active lifestyle. But with just a few simple strategies, you can help instill habits that will serve everyone well.

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