Currently, around a third of children in the UK are classed as overweight or obese leading them to become overweight adults. With the increasing risk of health complications of being overweight or obese, it’s essential that good lifestyle habits are embedded at a young age to ward off long term problems.
Follow these handy tips and make healthy lifestyles the ‘norm’ in your household:
Create family fun and memories by getting out and being active together. Explore the countryside with no-cost/low-cost activities such as family bike-rides, long dog walks, a woodland nature trek or hike across the countryside. Tapping into nature is good for your mind and your body and exercise releases feel good hormones endorphins, which can improve your sleep habits.
Get preparing and cooking with the kids by encouraging them to be involved with food preparation like weighing, washing and mixing which will teach them valuable cooking skills. This in turn may make them more likely to try new recipes if they’ve helped to make it.
Portion control is a great way to tackle over eating. Use serving dishes on the table and use smaller plates to start with, will help to control portion size - they can always go back for seconds if they really are still hungry.
Together at the table is a positive mealtime mantra, research has shown that eating together at the table without distractions like the television, can help you to control your portions and eat only what you need. What’s more, sitting down together at the dinner table over a healthy home-cooked meal is an ideal opportunity to share you day and enjoy quality family time.
Stop the ‘clean plate’ rule; children have a natural ability to self-regulate their appetite and will stop eating once they’ve had enough. By encouraging children to clean their plate you’re tempting them to eat more than they need.
Keep trying with your children if they’re reluctant to eat those heart-healthy vegetables, whole-grains and oily fish. Don’t give up, evidence shows that kids need to try new foods up to ten times before accepting them, try mixing them in with other foods to start with so kids will still get those heart-healthy foods.
Ditch your own bad habits and be heart-healthy role models to encourage ‘whole-family’ heart healthier lifestyles and set children on course for healthier, happier, longer lives.