Heredity is a major factor in
heart disease. If you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease, your children are
at an increased risk of developing it, too. Help your kids adopt better habits
for a healthier—and hopefully heart disease-free life.
Set an Example
Children learn by imitation. Set
a good example by exercising and eating healthier. If they see you reaching for
fruit instead of candy, they’ll be more likely to do the same. Show your
children that you’re making a conscious effort to be healthy and they will,
Make It a Family Affair
If you want your kids to be more
active, get the whole family involved. Plan group activities that everyone can
participate in. Take walks or ride bikes around the neighborhood when they get
home from school. Play catch in the backyard or go to the park on the weekend.
This will get your whole family moving and will allow you to spend more time
Get Your Kids Involved
When it’s time to go grocery
shopping, ask your kids to help you pick out healthy foods. At dinnertime, give
them small tasks, such as rinsing fruits and vegetables or setting the table.
By involving your children in the cooking process, they’ll be more likely to
eat the food since they helped prepare it.
Set Realistic Goals
Your children’s habits won’t
change overnight, so it’s important to set attainable goals when trying to get
them to eat healthier and be more active. Start small. For example, aim for 15
minutes of physical activity and an apple a day. You can work your way up from
Modify the Foods Your Kids Like
Make healthy adjustments to foods
your kids already like. Add fruit slices to their cereal in the morning or use
whole wheat instead of white bread for their sandwiches. Instead of buying sugary
drinks with little nutritional value, opt for 100 percent fruit juice. Making
little changes here and there will yield better results than trying to change
their entire diet at once.
How much do you really know about
what you’re feeding your family? Make it a point to read nutrition labels and
make a game out of it. See how many ingredients you can identify in any given
product. If you come across ingredients you’re unfamiliar with, chances are,
the item isn’t your healthiest option. Put it back and choose a healthier
Make Healthy Snacks Available
Your kids can’t eat what isn’t
there. This works both ways—if unhealthy foods aren’t available, your children
can’t eat them. If they are available, your kids will be more likely to reach
for something healthy when they crave a snack.
Limit TV or Computer Usage
Inactivity can lead to obesity,
so limit your child’s TV watching or computer usage to two hours a day. Limit
snacking during TV watching as well. Eating in front of the TV will prevent
them from realizing when they’re full. Teach them to eat mindfully to avoid
Educate Your Kids
Explain to your children why it’s
important that they’re active and eat healthy. Teach them about the nutrients
different foods contain and how these vitamins help to keep their bodies strong
and healthy. If they have an understanding of the reason behind developing good
habits, they’ll be more likely to practice them.
Make It Presentable
If you’re having a hard time
getting your kids to eat healthy foods, try changing the presentation. Cut
fruits and vegetables into fun shapes or slice them thin. You can also try
adding hummus or yogurt-based dips to enhance the taste. Experiment with
different presentation methods to find one that works.
Stick to a Routine
Try to serve meals and snacks at
the same time every day. Many children like having a routine, so when a certain
time of day rolls around, they’ll know what to expect. Keeping snacks and meals
limited to a schedule will keep them from spoiling their appetite later.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Children like hearing when
they’ve done something well, so make a point to encourage them when they
practice healthy habits. Showing and telling them that they’re doing a good job
will urge them to continue the behavior.