As parents we all want the best for our children. We try to protect them from all the nasties in the world. We buy them cycle helmets, shin pads, we disinfect toys and we drum stranger danger in to them. But are we doing enough to protect them from all those serious “adult” diseases – such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers?
These diseases don’t just develop overnight. They start during childhood and they are directly linked to poor lifestyle habits. Poor lifestyle habits include eating too much junk food, not eating enough fruit and veg, smoking and basically just being a couch potato.
These poor lifestyle habits are usually picked up from our families – and we are in danger of passing them on to our kids.
There are many families who have been affected by cancer, heart disease etc. But we don’t have to accept this situation – these diseases don’t have to “run in the family”- there is something we can do to avoid them.
By making a few small changes to our own lifestyle habits we can become healthy role models for our children.
Eat your Greens Daddy
As parents we have most control over what our kids are eating – but are we eating healthily ourselves? It’s no good telling the kids to eat their veggies if you’re not setting a good example. Some simple healthy eating tips for the whole family:
- Increase the amount of fruit and veg that you and your family eats by keeping a fruit bowl easily accessible – keep the fruit bowl well stocked and get rid of any fruit when it is looking tired
- Always include some veggies with every meal you serve up, even if it’s only a handful of frozen peas – and don’t panic if the kids don’t eat them
- Encourage the family to snack on fruit or unsalted nuts instead of reaching for junk food
- If your family are reluctant fruit eaters try making them smoothies or fruit kebabs
- Get in to the habit of putting more veg on to everyone’s plate at mealtimes
- Try having a salad as a starter, or as a side dish with your meals
- Dump the junk food habit – stop buying fizzy drinks, crisps, biscuits and cakes as part of the weekly shop
- Stop eating biscuits with your tea or coffee
Not Enough Hours in the Day?
We all lead busy lives – juggling work, kids, shopping, chores – the list goes on. Its no wonder the idea of slumping in front of the TV is so inviting after a day spent rushing around. But did you know the average person spends 22 hours per week watching TV?
Just think what you and your family could do with those 22 hours if you turned off the telly. Maybe you could learn a new language, take up dancing, join an exercise class or go for a walk with the kids.
You might surprise yourselves with the amount of free time you suddenly have if you limit the amount of TV your family watches. You don’t have to get rid of the telly altogether but instead of passively watching everything, only watch the programmes that you really want to.
- Sit down with your family and the TV listings and plan what you all want to watch in the week.
- Limit computer games to weekends only and set a strict time limit on them.
- Encourage your family to stop looking at the virtual world and get active in the real world.
Get Moving Mum
You don’t have to give up being physically active once you have kids, and it’s important to be an active role model. The chances are that if you are physically active, the habit will rub off on your children.
- You could try taking classes with your children – try Zumba, aerobics, dance classes, or even boxercise. You’ll have a great work out and the shared interest will help you to bond with your kids.
- Plan weekly physical activities with your kids – they needn’t be expensive or involve travelling far. You could go for a bike ride with the family on a Sunday afternoon, or a swim, or even dig a veggie plot with the family.
- Getting active doesn’t mean spending a fortune at the gym or buying loads of home exercise equipment that never gets used. It just involves getting up out of that chair and doing something that increases your heart rate.
Setting a Good Example
A few small changes to your lifestyle will give your kids a great example – it will also do wonders for your own health!
Do you think it is important for parents to have healthy habits? How do you manage to stay active when you are a busy parent?