Are you worried about how healthy or active your family is? There are some simple meal ideas and easy steps you can take to improve everyone’s health and encourage your whole family to follow a healthy lifestyle…
Every week, we hear scare stories about how unfit we are as a nation. In fact, more than 50 per cent of adults are overweight and the number of children classed as obese is rising – up from 19.1% in 2015 to 19.8% of children aged 10-11. Obesity has hit epidemic proportions and it has been reported that obesity-related illnesses are costing the NHS more than £2 billion.
Heart disease and diabetes are among the top 10 causes of death and obesity is proven to be a contributing factor. We are in an age where convenience is paramount. Snack machines, microwave meals and burger bars all provide quick and easy ways to fill up our stomachs. But what we are filling up on are high-calorie, high-fat and sugar-laden foods, and even more frighteningly, so are our children.
So, what can we do to prevent this downward health spiral? From meal ideas to simple habits, here are 7 ways to be a more healthy and active family…
7 ways to be a more healthy family
1. Be a role model
If you are smoking a cigarette and telling your children not to smoke, you are sending a mixed message. If you exercise and eat well, at some point your children will see that good example and incorporate it into their lifestyle. The longer you leave it, and the older your kids get, the more difficult this will become – so start now.
2. Encourage healthy snacking
Always have a bowl of fresh fruit out in the kitchen. Unhealthy snacks should be put away out of children’s reach and given as occasional rather than everyday treats. By making healthier snack options more easily accessible, your family is more likely to create healthier habits around snacking. Plus, by keeping tasty treats – like crisps or chocolate – for occasional consumption only, your healthy family will see them as exactly that: treats!
3. Make changes gradually
Going home from class and clearing the cupboards of unhealthy food will only cause revolt among the ranks. Quitting ‘cold turkey’ will likely lead your family members to rebel by heading to the supermarket and stocking up on an unhealthy snack stash. Instead, take things one step at a time.
First, you could gradually incorporate healthier food into the rotation so it becomes part of your family’s healthy routine. Then, gradually decrease the frequency of unhealthier food options, until they become an occasional treat, rather than an everyday occurance.
4. Become an active family
Being a healthy family isn’t just about what you all eat – staying active is crucial too! And it doesn’t have to become a chore. Start walking more and planning weekends that involve activity rather than inactivity. Little changes will build up into a healthier lifestyle.
You could also gradually limit TV and computer time for the kids and emphasise the importance of family time where everyone gets out and has fun together.
5. Set healthy family goals
A bit of healthy competition is always helpful for sparking motivation. If your family seem uninspired by your health kick, why not have each member of your family set an exercise and nutrition goal for the week? Set up a board and everyone gets a red star each time they have some fruit or vegetables and a green star each time they exercise.
You could perhaps have stars for when household chores are completed, too. The winners – for example, the members of the family with the most stars – get to choose what you do as your family activity at the weekend (or any non-food prize that you feel will appeal to them).
6. Swap junk food for healthy family meal ideas
In our busy lifestyles, fast food and ready meals have become far too convenient, to the point where they might feel like the only option when you’re looking at a short space of time. However, if you’re going to become a more healthy family, you need to make your trips to fast food restaurants few and far between. You should also cut down on ready meals, as these are often packed full of processed foods and sugar.
If you’re in a rush, some great healthy family meal ideas include soup and sandwiches. These are healthier than most fast food and the preparation time is minimal. If you’re short on time during the week, why not try batch cooking a healthy veggie pasta or hearty stew at the weekend? Then, for a midweek meal, you can simply reheat a portion for each family member. Just like a ready meal, but far healthier!
7. Don’t follow fads
In our modern society, we are constantly bombarded with diet fads and ridiculous technology promising instant, unattainable results. While these ads might talk the talk, they rarely walk the walk.
Sensible, healthy eating and some form of exercise and activity every day are the bedrock of a healthy lifestyle. Don’t feel the need to buy the latest expensive ‘health’ food or follow an extreme regime. Get your tribe out of the house and eating a variety of meal ideas, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a more healthy and active family.