You may have recently seen this startling statistic: 1 out of every 3 kids in the U.S. is considered overweight or obese. Unfortunately, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to us when we realize that some studies report that up to two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight as well. In fact, the American Academy of Psychology says that when kids grow up with parents with bad health habits, they are 65% more likely to adapt those same unhealthy lifestyle choices. Fortunately, the reverse is true as well as kids who grow up with healthy parents are 65% more likely to follow that lifestyle.
We often may think that we are encouraging kids to adapt a healthy lifestyle by limiting sodas and sweets, suggesting exercise and telling them to stay away from smoking, but if our kids are seeing us do these very same things, it obviously sends very mixed messages to them! Are you guilty of setting expectations of your kids that you aren’t setting for yourself?
Here are a few things that you can do with and for your kids that can help all of you take steps to leading a healthier lifestyle as a family:
– Teach your children to respect their bodies and discuss with them what this means. Kids often like to understand the “why” behind what you’re doing before they will fully embrace any big life changes.
– Plan family exercise times: bike rides, Wii Fit games, exercise videos or hiking, just to name a few. And remember that leading an active lifestyle doesn’t always have to involve “exercise” but can just mean a concerted effort to be outside more… at the park, nature trails or even the zoo!
– Ask your kids to help you plan and prepare meals. Along the way, explain why you make the food choices that you do and discuss the importance of moderation and self-control.
– Make sure that healthy eating is always the focus: if pounds lost are always touted as the benchmark of success, it can lead to unhealthy expectations and self-image issues.
– In addition to healthy eating and exercising, make sure you are displaying healthy ways to express your emotions, especially anger and frustration. Emotional health can sometimes be left out of the equation but can be just as important to display appropriately for your children.
– Be open to discussion with your kids and ask them for feedback. There may be unhealthy habits in your life that you don’t even realize are there!
What are some ways that your family works together to be healthy together? Are there any unhealthy habits or choices in your life right now that you need to stop?
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