Pursuing good health should not be a go-it-alone endeavor. Instead, good health should be nurtured, held in high esteem, and to share with your family. Like the saying goes, “health is wealth” and this is one type of wealth to spread around.
When focusing on becoming the healthiest version of yourself, it begins in your home. When good health habits are made a priority, everyone living under your roof, benefits. Amazingly, it’s not that hard to do. Small, simple lifestyle changes can eventually build into much larger health gains than expected. Weight loss, reductions in high blood pressure or cholesterol levels or improvements in energy, are all excellent health changes one may expect.
Here are five easy ways you can begin to nurture a healthier family, one healthy habit at a time:
- Eat at least one fruit and/or vegetable at every meal
It’s rather mind-boggling but only one in ten Americans eat enough fruits (12%) and vegetables (9%), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Eating a diet lacking in plant-based foods has been linked to a higher risk of developing cancer, obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Mother Nature’s produce practically shouts “healthy” thanks to fruits and vegetables’ high fiber, vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant content. Today, take the produce plunge to include more fruits and veggies at each meal with these ideas:
- Top toast with slices of tomato and hard-boiled egg or top toast with mashed avocado instead of butter
- Add cubes of sweet potato and winter squash to roasted potatoes
- Combine canned pumpkin with yogurt and spics for a creamy smoothie
- Microwave a baked potato and top with cooked broccoli and cheese
- Take an apple, banana or orange with you when on the go
- Add spinach, asparagus, peppers, and broccoli to omelets or scrambled eggs
- Spend 30 minutes outdoors each day
You have a whole wide world to explore and it starts in your own backyard. Every day, spend time marveling at the world we live in. There is always a reason to go outdoors. When we actually notice our surroundings of the multitude of wonders nature provides, it gives us a fresh perspective turning stress and tension into more calm and tranquility. Teach your children at a young age to enjoy and appreciate the great outdoors and how it benefits their health.
- Cut back on screen time and schedule in family time
Each day set aside time to be exclusively with family. Start by unplugging from electronic devices. Make it a rule to remove anything with a screen (TVs, cell phones, laptops) from bedrooms and at mealtimes. This can help kids not only get to bed earlier but also sleep better. At meals, ditch the electronics to focus on making conversation with one another using that precious time to check in on each member.
Spend time listening, laughing, reading, working on a project together or playing games. Families that play together stay together. Quality time spent together as a family does more for nurturing mental and emotional health and happiness than any pill ever will.
- Make physical activity a must
Be a good role model and move. Move, as in become more physically active every day and your family will take notice. The lengthy list of benefits of regular exercise includes weight control, improves mood, boosts energy, promotes better sleep, improves self-esteem, enhances the immune system, and helps manage or prevent numerous health conditions from heart disease, diabetes, depression, arthritis and certain types of cancer.
Being physically active is more than just going on daily walks. Learn to be creative – put on music and dance, do10 push-ups every hour, each weekend find new nature trails to explore, or have a jump roping contest with a family member.
- Take a break from sugar overload
Overconsumption of sugar adds up quickly. If within one day, you’ve had a sugary beverage or two (soda, juice, sweetened tea, lemonade, sugary sports drinks), a granola bar, breakfast cereal, non-Greek yogurt, smoothie, or loaded up your beef sandwich with barbeque sauce, you are a walking sugar machine. The empty calories of excessive sugar can have a significant negative impact on your overall health.
Since sugar is an acquired taste and taming an out-of-control sweet tooth can be difficult, it will take some re-training to enjoy less of it but your health will benefit immensely.
Try these suggestions and soon excess sugar can dissolve from your life:
- Start with eliminating sweetened beverages. Drink water – jazz up plain water by squeezing fresh lemon or lime juice into it.
- Eat about 25-30 grams of protein at each meal. Protein provides satiety keeping you from craving sweets
- Avoid eating sweets in the morning as it leads to a blood sugar roller coaster all day long
- Use pre-portioned sweets like dark chocolate squares (at least 70% cacoa content) to satisfy a sweet tooth
- Use smaller bowls/plates for desserts, especially ice cream
- Keep sweets out of the house
- Brush your teeth when you get a craving for sweets
- If you’re craving a dessert after lunch or dinner, try this: Wait 15 minutes after eating before having dessert. Set a timer or use an alarm on your phone. During that time, do your normal after dinner activities such as cleaning the kitchen, going for a walk, etc. See if you feel the same desire for dessert when the time is up.