How to Give Your Child Healthy Habits for Life

One of the best ways to prepare your children for a long and healthy life is to get them started early with their own healthy habits.  In today's convenience and junk-filled world, it is still possible to raise super healthy kids with these six healthy habits for life.

Giving children sweet, sugary drinks or electronic devices to play on at a young age will only give them the message that this is OK.  When you try to wrench the Coke and iPad off them later, it may be difficult to recall why they are familiar with them in the first place!

But, like everything, healthy living is best taught by example.  When the entire family practices healthy habits, they’re more likely to stick with your children for life.  Here are six healthy habits to create for you and your family.

Drink Water

Most of us just don’t drink enough water.  A survey by the RNLI found that as many as 89% of us are not sufficiently hydrated, not drinking enough for our bodies optimal function.

What we do drink is unlikely to be water, with most of us reaching for sugar and additive-heavy flavoured waters, fizzy drinks, juice and squash.  Skip those and stick to water for your cold drinks.  Try adding cucumber, slices of citrus fruit or berries for flavour as you make the change.

Eat Less

Most of us could consume far less than we do.  We’re a super-sized society who have become accustomed to eating a lot during mealtimes, and snack in between.

Work on eating smaller portions at every meal.  Serve more vegetables on the plate and less protein and starchy carbohydrates.

Related post: 9 Habits for Healthy Eating

Move More

Find a way to be active each and every day.  Walk, cycle or scoot to places when you can.  Make family walks a regular habit, you could even take up longer walks or hiking at weekends.

A walk after dinner every day while the evenings are lighter is a great way to reconnect and chat about your day, while also tiring everyone out for bed too.  Double win!

Play sports together, dance and get moving.  The more you’re active as a family and on your own, the more your children will be active too.  An active lifestyle is key to a healthy mind and body.

Related post: How to Fit a 20 Minute Walk Into Your Day

Food is Just Food

Appreciate food for what it is.  There’s nothing wrong with enjoying food and consuming treats in moderation.  When people have a healthy appreciation for food, they eat healthier.

However, when they use food to soothe their emotions or as a reward, it creates a misguided relationship with food.  Children will learn to turn to food as a coping mechanism.

Parents can help by not using food as a reward or punishment.  Don't bribe kids to eat more of X or Y so they can have Z (usually dessert or chocolate!)  And never cajole kids to clear their plates or eat more than they want to.  Instead, allow them to serve themselves at the table from a young age so they can gauge their own appetite.

Related post: Why Our Kids Love Fruit and Vegetables and How Yours Can Too

Cook More

Make more food at home.  Take away and prepackaged foods are sometimes necessary, but they’re usually not healthy.  However, when a family makes food at home using fresh produce they’re more likely to eat healthy and to develop a healthy relationship with food.

Make cooking a family activity at the weekend when everyone is home together, or get the kids to help with making dinner a couple of times a week.  Bake cakes and biscuits, cookies or snack bars so you know exactly what is in them and the children can learn important skills.

Related post: 21 Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat More Fruit and Vegetables

Eat Less Sugar

Sugar is in just about everything we eat.  It’s in bread, pasta sauces, soups, almost all prepared foods.  Help your family break the addiction to sugar by cooking from scratch or choosing reduced sugar options - just make sure the sugar hasn't been replaced by some other nasty!

Cookies and snacks are okay occasionally but they shouldn’t be an everyday choice.  If you take up baking, try experimenting with healthier recipes.  For example, there are lots around that use the natural sweetness of root vegetables in place of sugar.

Related post: Chocolate Beetroot and Raspberry Cupcakes

One of a parent's most important responsibilities is to be a good role model. As your child grows they’'ll learn about healthy habits from you.  They watch, they emulate and they adopt your habits.

Creating healthy habits as a family will help your children grow up healthy and strong. They’ll take the habits they learned as children into adulthood.

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