At first this may seem like an odd title. Teach kids to save their health? Yet how many adults do you know that wish that they would have made better choices when they were younger? Many regret their stint of smoking or unhealthy eating. Once a diagnosis of skin cancer is given, those tanning days of summer do not seem so appealing. When we are young, we think that we have plenty of time to make better choices. Explaining to children that the decisions that they make today will affect their health tomorrow can be hard for them to understand.
The first step is modeling better choices to our children. That has to be where better health begins. If we aren’t taking time to be active and to exercise, why would our kids want to do the same? If we want our kids to eat healthier snacks but we choose to eat three cookies right before dinner, why are they going to choose to do anything differently? While we all have our unhealthy moments (Halloween candy season is almost here …), consistently making healthier choices will inspire our kids to do the same.
Join in on the fun. The quickest way to get my kids outside is to go with them. Group exercise can definitely be more enjoyable and does not always have to be strenuous. Play on a Frisbee golf course together. Walk around the block. Shoot a basketball in a friendly game of HORSE. Once exercise is a part of daily life, you cannot help but miss moving.
Involve your kids. Have them pick the next “moving” activity for your family. Encourage them to help with meal planning. Let them pick out healthy foods from the store. In fact, start a fruit/veggie of the week (or month club) – let them pick out any unfamiliar fruit/veggie for the family to try. Just remember to be a sport and try it along with them. 🙂
Commit to making being healthier a lifelong process. Recognize that choices become habits. Expect that the road might be a bit bumpy and give a bit of room to roam. Moderation is always a good idea. A few chips now and again is much better than a child hiding out to consume the whole bag because he is not allowed any treats. The goal is taking steps together – a marathon, not a sprint.
Gather resources. Due to the nationwide obesity epidemic, companies are developing all sorts of websites and action plans to try help people make better choices. Why not implement their suggestions rather than trying to figure out your own game plan? Here are some links that are especially helpful.
- Fuel up to Play 60 encourages 60 minute of daily activity plus healthier eating – all sorts of information and fun challenges
- Let’s Move has all sorts of resources for families, schools and communities – follow their simple action plans to experience some success
- Choose My Plate from the USDA has all sorts of great resources to help kids make healthier choices.
- Yum-O is an organization started by Rachael Ray that includes healthy recipes and inspiring stories about communities that are trying to make a difference
- Food Revolution is Jamie Oliver’s way of educating children about how easy preparing healthy food can be
Please check out my Pinterest page for healthy meal ideas and ways to get kids to be more active. Although I do confess there are few boards that might be slightly more indulgent (such as my Christmas Cravings one 🙂 ), for the most part, my boards feature suggestions of nutritious meals and snacks. If you have any tips for helping kids to become healthier, please comment below or share your suggestions on my Facebook page. Together we can teach kids the skills that will positively impact their lives.
What steps have you taken to help your children lead healthier lives (other than using Norwex of course!)?