My family were my motivation for getting my health back, I make no secret about it. They are also the reason I know I need to maintain my health…
Here are some of the key practices I believe that as parents we can have to keep our families fit and healthy.
#1 – Lead by example
I was going to make this the last point on the list, but in the reality it is the most important. Your kids will pay much more attention to what you do, than what you say.
You can’t tell them to eat less sweets and sugary snacks if you are going to sit and eat them yourself. Similarly, don’t expect them to easily give up their ‘screen time’ if you spend hours sat in front of the TV or staring at your own digital devices.
If you want your family to adopt healthy habits you need to adopt them first. Let them see the positive impact it has on you and they will soon to eager to join in.
#2 – Eat together
Did you know that 1 in 3 British people eat more meals alone than with other people and that 1 in 4 UK families no longer have a table everyone can eat around?
Our lifestyles have changed drastically in the last few decades, especially regarding WHAT we eat and HOW we eat it. The rise of convenience and processed foods has been exponential with less and less people cooking meals from scratch.
I believe one of the best things we can do for our children is to teach them about real food and get them in the kitchen with us preparing meals from basic ingredients.
Teaching children about real food gives them a foundation for how to stay healthy into the future as they fly the nest and ultimately start to raise families of their own.
Equally as important is taking time to eat as a family, even if it is only once or twice a week.
Historically we gathered in our tribes to eat the food we foraged and hunted. I believe eating as a family is part of the human experience and losing this important bonding experience may be one of the reasons we are seeing a significant rise in childhood depression.
Twenty years ago depression and other mental health disorders in children were almost unknown. In 2015 research by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) shows that 80,000 children in the UK are estimated to suffer from severe depression. This includes 8,000 children below the age of 10.
#3 – Get active together
There is no denying it, we move less than our parents and grandparents did.
Our lifestyles are increasingly focused around prolonged periods of sitting on our backsides. Whether at home, at work, in our cars or out socialising, we now live in a world that requires very little physical activity.
Over the last century much of our environment has been re-engineered to reduce the need for us to move. The majority of manual tasks are now undertaken by machines or with the aid of labour saving devices. This shift has taken us from living physically demanding lives to suddenly moving less than we ever have during the entire human evolution.
There are three things critical to be well and they are Attitude, Intake and Movement.
Your attitude to life (or mindset) will often dictate what you do in the other 2 categories. Are you going to commit to being an example for your family?
If you are, then just as important as teaching children about real food (intake) is keeping them active.
We are supposed to move our bodies and as parents we need to teach our kids that it can be fun.
Most people think that in order to be fit you need to workout. You don’t.
Think about – the term “workout” implies hard work but you can be fit and active without it feeling like some kind of punishment. Also, if you want to get your family involved it NEEDS to be something you will all enjoy.
There are countless ways to be active as a family, ranging from a country walk together to playing sports in the garden or a local park. If sport is not your thing then how about dancing… the key thing is to MOVE and to show your kids that movement is fun.
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