Being healthy and staying healthy is a family affair.  It shouldn’t just be one member trying to “stick to a diet” or not allow themselves something the rest of their family is eating.  If it isn’t healthy for you, chances are it may not be healthy for the rest of the family.

So, when trying to create a healthy lifestyle for yourself, try to get your family involved.  Here are a couple tips to try and make that happen.

1. Limit time screen time for everyone.  In general, we all already spend a lot of time sitting in school and work.

2. Children are recommended to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.  Encourage children to play outside, run around, or get involved in sports, whether organized or outside in the backyard.  Adults should be getting 150 minutes a week.  Play with your kids

3. Check out your kitchen.  What are the first items you see in your pantry, cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer?  Foods found in your pantry tend to be more processed than the fruits, vegetables, yogurts, and meats in your fridge.  Typically.  Check your food labels and have your children help you clear out the unhealthy foods and make a list of more healthful items that may need to be purchased on your next grocery store visit.

4. “What you see is what you eat.” Set out large bowls of fruits or vegetables that are easily accessible for you and your children, so if anyone needs a snack, they can quickly grab one of these healthier options.  Have whole grain crackers, natural yogurt, and natural popcorn easily available as well.

5Plan out your weekly menus.  It sounds like a lot of work, but spending 20 minutes a week planning out what your family will eat for dinner will help with your grocery list and will help reduce the amount of fast food, or processed items, your family consumes.

6. Make better choices when eating out.  If you do patron fast food restaurants, choose healthier options.  Topping the list of “Top 10 Healthiest Fast Food Restaurants” is Panera Bread, Jason’s Deli, and Chipotle (Health.com).  When eating out at restaurants, look for foods that are grilled, steamed, comes with little or no sauce (or choose red sauce over white), ask to substitute vegetables if they don’t come with your dish.  And ask for half portions.  As big as portion sizes are getting these days, half portions tend to be the right amount of food.

7. Don’t remove snacks, remove unhealthy snacks.  Children have large appetites and seem to be constantly eating.  They also tend to have higher metabolism than adults and need the extra fuel.  But the thought is that if you remove snacks as an option, kids will be forced to eat all their meals.  The problem is that may not be the case.  Kids typically eat when they are hungry and that may not coincide with your family’s planned mealtime.  So, let kids eat snacks, but offer fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy, which are foods they need to consume on a regular basis anyway.  And try to combine food groups in order to meet more of their nutritional needs.

8. Limit the amount of “empty calories” you and your children consume from soda, fruit drinks, and sports drinks.  Instead, encourage drinking as much water as you and your children want, 2-3 cups of nonfat milk, and 4 ounces of 100% fruit juice a day.

9. Resist the urge to make every reward for your child an “eating” reward. For example, try not to tempt children with ice cream for dessert if they eat their dinner.  Or, try not to go out for a sweet treat for getting a good grade in school.  Try, instead to make the rewards activities that you can do together as a family (such as going to the park, or watching a movie together, or playing board games)

10. Lead by example.  Children mimic what they see, from peers, from siblings, and from parents.  If you are eating healthy foods, drinking plenty of water, and getting plenty of physical activity, your children will be more willing to make healthy choices.

Becoming fit and staying doesn’t happen unless you make it happen, let us be there to help.

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