I believe that good health starts at home. Proper diet and nutrition + exercise must become something that parents teach their children from an early age. Unfortunately, this is not happening enough throughout America.
American Families Are Becoming Increasingly Unhealthy
We hear it constantly in the media: American families, as a whole, are becoming increasingly unhealthy and at alarming rates. Each year, the rates for obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes increases in both adults and children. And, looking at the 5 to 10 year forecasts, it is projected to become a serious epidemic.
Currently, 1 in 3 American children are overweight and/or clinically obese. The biggest contributing factors to obesity are:
- Each day, children (and, adults) are spending an average of 7.5 hrs in front of a screen (TV, computer, smartphone, video game, etc.). This promotes a sedentary lifestyle, causing muscles to not strengthen or develop, as well as slowing down metabolism
- meal time portion sizes have not only increased, but the quality of food consumed has dramatically decreased. Too much processed food containing way, way too much refined sugar and few nutrients.
- soda is being consumed at alarming quantities. Soda is LOADED with sugar and chemicals is a major contributing factor to obesity. Plus, not enough water is being consumed to properly hydrate and flush the body of toxins causing weakened immune systems.
These 3 items affect our children’s (and, the families) current and long-term physical and emotional health, as well as their future financial wellbeing (as obesity rates grow, so will our healthcare costs/rates over time). This brings decreased health and increased costs to the modern family…creating more stress.
What You Can Do To Strength The Health of Your Family
While genetic influence plays a role in obesity, it is a minor role and most importantly it is something that can be controlled and overcome with proper diet and exercise. The reason this is a family issue is because families tend to develop patterns (habits) together…both good and bad.
As you’ve already read, good health starts at home. Parents need to educate and take the initiative when it comes to family health and wellbeing. However, little help or structure is offered for overcoming this important family issue. After all, what is more important than your health and the health of your family?
Below are my recommendations for promoting a healthy lifestyle with your family
1. When it comes to meal time, give EVERYONE a job
Nobody said it’s easy to prepare healthy meals…but, this should not be the job of one parent. Both parents and ALL kids should participate, in some form, to help make meal preparation and clean-up easy and successful. Heck, the whole family should pitch in with all household chores (laundry, yard work, cleaning, etc.).
2. Plan Your Week To Control Your Budget
Emotional stress (like running a household) and lack of planning and preparation leads to stressful decision making. With just a little planning, you should easily be able to minimize your trips to the grocery store or farmers markets, prepare meals and budget time for family exercise. Need help? Read through my Food & Nutrition Guide
3. Parents Need to Control Portion Sizes & Consumption
Parents need to control the timing and set a healthy example for meals and snacks. To promote healthy options, don’t buy excessive prepackaged junk food and do NOT keep soda, chips or candy in the house. Do not allow your kids to eat only meat or carbs and pass on their salad or vegetables. Also, dessert (if any) should be viewed as a small treat, not a meal in itself. Control the food in the house by controlling the potion size and consumption at meal time. Children are learning from you, their guardian, so set the right kind of example.
4. Limit Electronic Entertainment
Limit the following electronic entertainment to only 1 hour per day: TV, movies, video games, internet, Facebook, texting, etc. Also, all electronic devices should be left in the common/living areas of the house…not in the kids bedrooms. Today, kids suffer from a lack of sleep due to hours of playing in front of virtual screens.
5. Budget Time For Family Fitness
Typically, kids are sent to play in community sports leagues with other children their age or engage in high school sports. These are important, but I feel that family physical activity is equally important, especially at an early age, to promote health as a lifestyle. It builds a strong foundation that children will carry with them for life. The family that exercises together, thrives together. Make physical activity a fun bonding experience for the whole family. Try kickball, tennis, biking or just walking around the neighborhood as a family.
And, don’t be afraid to strength train as a family. New studies show, that children need to strength train, as well as adults, to promote muscle growth and development, build a strong frame, and prevent injuries. I’m NOT talking about major weight lifting, rather more resistance and body weight training, which involves pushups, resistance bands and moderately weighted medicine balls. CLICK HERE to read the full story
Just remember, safety first.. and consult your trusted certified personal trainer before starting a regimen, to ensure you are doing a program to benefit both adults and children.
6. Lights Out at 10 pm. Period.
This means homework, chores and a little physical activity is done and everyone is showered and in bed by 10pm. Sleep is the time when your body heals, rests/repairs and strengthens itself. Your body’s most productive healing time is while fully sleeping between the hours of 10pm and 2am. Aim to get a solid 8 hours of sleep each night.
I hope you find these tips helpful. I truly believe that good health starts in the home, and I am here to help all parents learn the importance of promoting proper nutrion and exercise to their children.