Family Health Tips
Individuals need to look after their own health, but parents are responsible for the health of their entire family. Whether your children are babies or young adults, you can take measures to promote good health for your entire clan with healthy eating and staying active.
Tips for Healthy Eating
More and more research is pointing to the fact that what we put into our bodies plays a major role in our mental and physical health. The United States currently has an obesity epidemic; according to the 2011 edition of the Journal of the American Medicine Association (JAMA), “more than one-third of adults and 17% of youth in the United States are obese.” Being overweight has many health effects, such as low energy, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure (hypertension) and even death. Although obesity is a huge problem, our diet also influences our immune system, which controls how susceptible we are to getting sick and how quickly we recover. Therefore, it is imperative to monitor what our family consumes on a regular basis; while treating ourselves to unhealthy foods is OK once in a while, eating healthy should be ingrained in your family’s routine. Here are tips to improve your family’s diet:
- Eat More Fruit and Vegetables – Americans are eating more wheat than fifty years ago, but have declined in their intake of fruit and vegetables. However, we need at least five servings of this produce to maintain our essential vitamin and mineral levels, promote our health and keep up our energy levels. Furthermore, most of this type of food has fiber, which we require to keep our digestive system working correctly, prevent constipation and keep a healthy gut. It may be difficult for some people to eat this much fruit and vegetables, and may be even harder still to force young children to do so. However, there are many tips for adding them to your diet, such as making smoothies or fruit juices, adding veggies to pasta dishes and sandwiches and even adding healthy vegetables to pizza.
- Hydrate – Family Doctor explains that “every cell, tissue, and organ in your body needs water to work correctly. For example, your body uses water to maintain its temperature, remove waste, and lubricate joints.” It is recommended to drink at least six to eight glasses of water per day, however that amount should be adjusted to each individual, his daily activities, and the outside temperature. Those that are exercising or are outside on a hot day will sweat more, thereby losing more moisture; therefore, they should drink more than those in sitting in an air-conditioned office. Many children and adults substitute water for soda or juices, which contain tons of sugar, chemicals and possible food dyes. It is important to understand the benefits of water versus the disadvantages of common sodas; do your research and teach your kids about proper hydration.
- Avoid Junk Food – Part of the biggest reason for obesity in the United States is the availability of junk food. From chips and candy bars being readily available at all gas stations, schools, events, etc., there is easy access to poor dieting choices. For maximum health benefits, foods that are high in sugar, unhealthy fats and unhealthy cholesterol should be avoided, as well as fried food that has no nutritional value. Although it is more convenient, and often cheaper, to drive by a local drive through, preparing meals for school or work ahead of time can lead to much smarter choices.
Tips for Staying Active
In addition to maintaining a healthy diet, being active as a family is vital to not only staying in shape, but instilling the importance of exercise into young minds. Below are ways to promote exercise for the entire family:
- Sports – One of the funnest ways to exercise is to practice sports. Kids and adults alike can join local sports teams or leagues, or take classes. From basketball to football and soccer, there is a multitude of options around the country. While there are private options, local community centers and the YMCA tend to offer more affordable choices based on income. Families can also play sports in their backyard or at the park, enjoying a nice weekend while staying active.
- Walking – Some cities are more accessible to walking, while others are not; however, this is a great activity for families. If you are heading to a place that is fairly close, consider taking a walk instead of public transportation or your car. Encourage kids to walk to and from school, and make a tradition of taking a brisk family walk after dinner.
- Bike Riding – People of all ages can enjoy a fun bike ride, which is even more enjoyable when the whole family does it. Even the smallest members can participate in this activity, either on a tricycle or in a bike trailer. Remember to use safety precautions when crossing the street or around busy intersections or roads.
- Small Changes – One of the easiest ways to stay active as a family is to make small, but meaningful changes to your routine. For example, skip taking the elevator in your building, or the escalator at the mall, and walk up the stairs instead. Set up a tradition to do ten minutes of early morning exercises as a family before starting out your day. Conduct family exercise competitions weekly, and reward winners. There are so many ways to promote exercising, many of which can be researched online.