Obesity is an epidemic not only for adults but also for children. Children these days are in danger of developing illnesses that are more typical of someone three or four times their age. This includes high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and others. It could be that the current generation of children has a lower life expectancy than their parents.Something has to change and right now. The family is in danger in more ways than one. Obesity is just the tip of the iceberg. There are also communication issues that can’t seem to jump the generation gap.
In order to be healthy, the family needs to embrace not only the physical but also the emotional and social wellbeing. In this report you will learn how to develop healthy habits in every arena of your family’s life, for overall wellbeing that will carry all of you into future stages of your life.
Keep reading to learn more about:
- Where to begin with the changes
- How to identify unhealthy habits
- Healthy eating habits
- Healthy exercise habits
- Family social activitiesFamily communication skillsYour family needs you. So, let’s get started.
What is making us unhealthy?
Where to Begin
We know that our families are not where they should be health-wise. But, the biggestobstacle to moving forward is lack of knowledge. Where do you start when you want to make healthy changes across the board?
Hold a family meeting. Give everyone a pencil and piece of paper. Ask them a few questions that will give you the preliminary answers you need to get this ball rolling.
- What would you like to change about yourself?
- Do you have healthy eating habits?
- What do you like about your family?
- What do you dislike about your family?
- What do you like to do for fun?
- What sorts of activities do you do with your family?
- Do you talk to your parents/children?
Each person needs to answer as honestly as they can. In order to change, you have to know what needs to be changed. No matter how painful the answers are, you can now start discussing them.
Identifying Unhealthy Habits
One of the first steps to take is to identify the habits that you need to change along with the ones that you want to change. Here are some of the habits many of us have cultivated that need a makeover, so that our families can lead a healthier life with a sense of purpose.
The Obesity Trend
We have already discussed that kids are suffering from obesity as well. But what is contributing to this trend? Here are a few
important points that include unhealthy habits that need a new look.
School lunches – Schools offer sodas, vending machines and fast food fare to kids for lunch in middle school and high school. It is up to them to turn down fattening choices for healthier fare but we haven’t always given them the tools to choose wisely.
No physical education –Depending on your school district, kids are not required to take a physical education class each year. This limits the amount of activity that they get each day.
Electronics – The increase in video games, remote controls, home video rentals, personal computers and other devices don’t inspire our kids to get off the couch. In fact, it doesn’t inspire parents to move once they get home. A sedentary lifestyle further increases the weight gain.
Eating processed foods – The kitchen is becoming a ghost town in many homes. For busy families, eating fast food and frozen meals is what a family meal is all about. It is quick and easy but not necessarily nutritious. This decreases the nutritional value the body receives each day.
The Lack of Communication
There has always been a gap between parents and teenagers. As kids get older, they believe that their parents get dumber. This isn’t true, but the beat goes on.
But, the communication gap goes beyond the natural divide. Many of us are just not talking anymore. The fact that parents and kids need each other hasn’t changed, so that means that something else must have done.
Here are some ways that we perpetuate the silence.
Television – Everyone is sitting in front of the television instead of talking to each other. In fact, most homes have at least two televisions. And, many kids have televisions in their rooms. With each person watching television in a separate room, there isn’t even any eye contact between family members.
Technology – Again, the culprit is electronic. Even at the dinner table, many kids (and sometimes parents) are answering and sending text messages. The cell phone is never far from our hand. We communicate through bits of information and not actual face-to-face talking. It has turned the world and the home into an impersonal place.
Scheduling – Busy schedules can have anyone harried. The kids have afterschool sports; mom has a book club meeting; dad has a meeting at work. Everyone gets picked up at a different time and when you finally get home, you sleep or retire to your own corners without a word. If it’s not on the schedule some people won’t do it, like sitting down for a talk.
It is time to return to a healthier way of family living. The reason is not just for peace of mind but for overall health. The verdict is in, and the next generation will not be ready to lead or even take care of themselves unless the family comes back together in a healthy way.
We have already discussed what we shouldn’t do any more. But, the way to get rid of an unhealthy habit is to replace it with a healthy one. So, here we go with some ideas that will help:
Drink lots of water – Water gives your body an internal shower. The body is over fifty percent water so it needs a lot. Whenever you sweat, urinate or just move through the day, you are losing water that you need to replenish. Sodas just make you thirsty and spike your blood sugar. They are empty calories that can add up quickly. One can of soda yields about 120 or more calories.
Read nutritional labels –They give valuable information about fats, sugars, carbohydrates, protein and calories. Find out how much you need each day and how much a serving of a particular food yields. You may be surprised how many calories you give up in snacks, sodas and other convenient foods. Keep only foods in the house that are wholesome.
Cook together – Kids learn about cooking and nutrition from their family. Both parents and kids can learn together. Also, you know what is in your meal when you make it at home. Buy healthy cookbooks to learn how to substitute healthier fare for your favorites. An example is making a homemade pizza with wheat crust and your favorite fresh veggies and lean meats. Let each family member
take a turn cooking their favorite healthy meal for the group.
Plan ahead – Do as much prep work as you can for meals ahead of time. Fix lunch at night for the next day. Chop veggies for omelets and add-ins for casseroles. Use a weekend day to cook meals and freeze them. Then mealtime is as easy as defrosting and warming in the microwave.
Eat at least one meal a day together – It might be unrealistic to expect the family to eat together during the day but make a pact to eat dinner together each night. This sets up a precedent that you will want to continue.
Set limits on media – Many people gain a lot of calories because they are mindlessly eating while watching television or on the computer. Set limits (depending on age or grades) on the time spent with electronic activity each day. This leaves time for other activities.
Exercise is important. Many families don’t get any activity each day. It may not affect a young person but it will catch up with you sooner than you think if you currently have a sedentary lifestyle. Get your family moving.
Eating well is only one part of a family’s overall wellbeing. Let’s move on to physical activity.
One of the biggest deterrents to consistent exercise is lack of accountability.
When a family exercises together they help each other to stay motivated and stick with it. Someone is always there to push you
to go the extra mile and get the best from yourself that you can.
Find an activity that you like.
If you like what you are doing you will continue to do it. If everyone likes to ride bikes that is one way to get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. And, when it’s fun, then it feels effortless.
After dinner walk – After your family dinner, throw the dishes in the dishwasher and take a stroll around the neighborhood. This also gives you time to discuss your day or talk about family vacation plans.
Bike ride in the park – You can do it after dinner or for a weekend exercise activity. Head to your favorite park and put that helmet on. Have a contest to see who is the fastest. Make it fun.
Here are some suggestions for family physical activity:
Use the back yard – Who says that a family can’t play kickball or volleyball together? A pick-up game can be arranged anytime. In the evening, a good run will tire the little ones out so they sleep through the night.
Take an exercise class together – If you want something new to do, take a dance class together. The hottest thing these days is Zumba fitness. It is a combination of Latin, hip-hop, and salsa dancing with other moves thrown in. It is contagious and can burn as much as 1,000 calories in an hour.
Take turns choosing activities – This way each person gets a chance to try something new. How about rollerblading or jogging or basketball? When everyone is involved, they feel represented.
Here is your chance to prove that it’s true. Setting aside family time allows the family to appreciate and get to know each other. It
might be a bit challenging to get this going at first, but everyone will be glad of the effort when it gets going. Here are some tips to begin.
Set aside a day to do it – Some have family game night or you can use Saturday morning. If teenagers have jobs or commitments with friends, let them know that family time is set each week and not up for negotiation. You can have a revolving family day each week if you want to accommodate everyone.
Choose activities you can do as a family – Since you have begun an exercise program together, this is separate. You don’t have to do anything exercise related. Come up with more creative ideas. Here are a few: see a movie, see a play, go bowling, go camping, game night or play an interactive video game like the Wii.
Create a bedtime routine – For little kids, this could mean a story at bedtime before they get tucked under the covers. For older kids it could be a talk about their day on the couch before retiring to their room.
Family Communication Skills
Many families don-t communicate anymore. We keep a lot of things to ourselves because we haven-t set aside time for this type of face-to-face meeting. Parents and kids can learn so much from each other when they actually sit down and talk. Here are some tips to help foster good communication skills in a family.
Set aside family meeting time – This is when everyone can talk about what is bothering them. Parents can also bring up any financial issues that affect the entire household. Any questions that need discussing can be brought up and discussed. There is no time limit on family meeting time. When everyone has had their say, the meeting can end.
Use proper communication skills – Observe certain rules when communication with family. First, show respect to the person talking. Listen to what they have to say and don’t interrupt. State your opinion in simplest terms. Be sure that everyone understands what you are actually saying so there are no miscommunications.
Offer appreciation – Because we are family we often forget that appreciation is needed here too. If your kids do something nice for you, express your gratitude. The same goes for kids appreciating their parents. Parents and kids can show appreciation and respect to each other, too. A few simple words can increase the bond between all of you for a stronger family unit.
As part of a family, each person has a responsibility for their place in the home. There can be problems when one person is doing all of the work. It is usually mom, but it is important to teach responsibility to the kids that will help them to be good citizens and parents when they grow up.
Chores – A chore is something that is done by kids as a payback for their space in the house. It could be taking out the trash, cleaning their room, washing clothes, washing dishes, dusting or any number of things. Chores not only teach responsibility,
but also life skills.
Work for money – Your child’s first job can be working for you. Beyond their chores, give them other jobs that they can do to earn money. Again, they learn the value of hard work and a job well done. This can include gardening, mowing the lawn, washing the car, etcetera.
Consequences – Without consequences, kids never learn the cost of not shouldering their responsibility. When they break curfew, there is a penalty. If chores aren’t done, there is also a penalty. Discuss the penalty system before instituting it so everyone is on the same page. Also, penalty choice can depend on age of the child.
A healthy family means a lot of things. We first think about eating well. That is a big part of it considering the epidemic of obesity
these days. But, it is just the beginning. Overall wellbeing also involves the emotional, social and physical side.
Exercise together. It keeps ever yone accountable and working with a partner. You can lose weight and develop fitness, starting at
Every family can improve and use this report as a springboard to better habits for a healthy life now and in the future.
Communicate. Talking with your kids may be difficult at first but it is worth the effort. The important things they need to learn, you want them to learn from you. Also, communication teaches them how to work through their problems with you and not against you.
Finally, teaching responsibility for life is essential to overall wellbeing. Set up chores and a penalty system to teach them that
there are consequences in life.