Heredity is a major factor in heart disease. If you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease, your children are at an increased risk of developing it, too. Help your kids adopt better habits for a healthier—and hopefully heart disease-free life.
Set an Example
Children learn by imitation. Set a good example by exercising and eating healthier. If they see you reaching for fruit instead of candy, they’ll be more likely to do the same. Show your children that you’re making a conscious effort to be healthy and they will, too.
Make It a Family Affair
If you want your kids to be more active, get the whole family involved. Plan group activities that everyone can participate in. Take walks or ride bikes around the neighborhood when they get home from school. Play catch in the backyard or go to the park on the weekend. This will get your whole family moving and will allow you to spend more time together.
Get Your Kids Involved
When it’s time to go grocery shopping, ask your kids to help you pick out healthy foods. At dinnertime, give them small tasks, such as rinsing fruits and vegetables or setting the table. By involving your children in the cooking process, they’ll be more likely to eat the food since they helped prepare it.
Set Realistic Goals
Your children’s habits won’t change overnight, so it’s important to set attainable goals when trying to get them to eat healthier and be more active. Start small. For example, aim for 15 minutes of physical activity and an apple a day. You can work your way up from there.
Modify the Foods Your Kids Like
Make healthy adjustments to foods your kids already like. Add fruit slices to their cereal in the morning or use whole wheat instead of white bread for their sandwiches. Instead of buying sugary drinks with little nutritional value, opt for 100 percent fruit juice. Making little changes here and there will yield better results than trying to change their entire diet at once.
How much do you really know about what you’re feeding your family? Make it a point to read nutrition labels and make a game out of it. See how many ingredients you can identify in any given product. If you come across ingredients you’re unfamiliar with, chances are, the item isn’t your healthiest option. Put it back and choose a healthier alternative.
Make Healthy Snacks Available
Your kids can’t eat what isn’t there. This works both ways—if unhealthy foods aren’t available, your children can’t eat them. If they are available, your kids will be more likely to reach for something healthy when they crave a snack.
Limit TV or Computer Usage
Inactivity can lead to obesity, so limit your child’s TV watching or computer usage to two hours a day. Limit snacking during TV watching as well. Eating in front of the TV will prevent them from realizing when they’re full. Teach them to eat mindfully to avoid overeating.
Educate Your Kids
Explain to your children why it’s important that they’re active and eat healthy. Teach them about the nutrients different foods contain and how these vitamins help to keep their bodies strong and healthy. If they have an understanding of the reason behind developing good habits, they’ll be more likely to practice them.
Make It Presentable
If you’re having a hard time getting your kids to eat healthy foods, try changing the presentation. Cut fruits and vegetables into fun shapes or slice them thin. You can also try adding hummus or yogurt-based dips to enhance the taste. Experiment with different presentation methods to find one that works.
Stick to a Routine
Try to serve meals and snacks at the same time every day. Many children like having a routine, so when a certain time of day rolls around, they’ll know what to expect. Keeping snacks and meals limited to a schedule will keep them from spoiling their appetite later.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Children like hearing when they’ve done something well, so make a point to encourage them when they practice healthy habits. Showing and telling them that they’re doing a good job will urge them to continue the behavior.