Good health habits established early can last a lifetime. The roots of many preventable illnesses – obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes – lie in lifestyle habits that are set down in childhood. In order to help your family stay healthy, strong, and active for their entire lives, you need to get proactive.
Emphasize Preventative Care
Preventative care – visiting a doctor for checkups before you show signs of illness – is the number one way to prevent both childhood and adulthood health problems. Routine vaccinations ensure that your children are protected from dangerous illnesses such as measles, whooping cough, the flu, and tetanus. Regular teeth cleanings prevent cavities, gingivitis, and the need for more extensive dental work.
· Talk with your kids about why they need to visit the doctor regularly. Explain the purpose of the exams and vaccines. Work with your doctor to make office visits as low-stress and comfortable as possible. The less kids fear the doctor, the easier it will be to get them to go today, tomorrow, and twenty years from now.
· Programs such as MDVIP’s comprehensive primary care providers focus on preventing illnesses before they start. Look into this type of supplemental health program to access personalized, one-on-one care for both yourself and your family.
Foster a Love of Fitness
Exercise and athletic activity is another important element of maintaining your family’s good health. Maintaining healthy levels of exercise is about more than just managing weight – it improves lung and heart function, creates better muscle endurance, produces mood-elevating endorphins, and helps regulate appetite and blood sugar levels.
· Get outside and just play with your kids. Kickball, tag, catch, and the playground are all easy and simple activities that give the whole family a fun workout.
· Sign up for sports programs that place an emphasis on having fun, rather than winning. Kids can become frustrated and disillusioned by even their favorite sport when the adults around them put too much emphasis on winning. The goal is to teach kids to love playing, and keep them playing for a lifetime.
Encourage Good Nutrition
Your kids may love high-sugar snacks, but even Cookie Monster knows that “Cookies are a sometimes food.” Science has shown that sugar is actually an addictive substance – and the less sugar you consume, the less you actually crave it. Check out the new nutrition guidelines and plan your family’s meals to include more fruits and vegetables and fewer processed, sugary foods. The fewer processed foods your family consumes, the less they’ll want it – and the more they’ll enjoy the healthier options you provide.
· Get your kids excited about nutrition by involving them in the preparation of their meals. Older kids can slice cheese, while the littles can stir bowls or wash veggies in the sink to their heart’s content.
· Add a drop of food coloring to scrambled eggs or mashed potatoes to make meals more exciting. Let your kids choose what color they want their eggs (though beware of trying to turn eggs purple in particular – the results aren’t very palatable).
· As you prepare the meal, explain what you’re doing and why. Even a simplified science lesson – “the hot water gets soaked into the pasta to make it squishy” – can be fascinating to young minds and get them more excited about mealtimes.
Preventing disease and fostering good health in your family requires that you be proactive. Get yourself and your family in to the doctor for preventative care on a regular basis. Make sure you’re all eating right and exercising - and do it in such a way that gets everyone excited. Cooking, eating, and playing together as a family can ensure that you’re all more healthy now and in the long run.
About the Author
Abby Evans is a mother and freelance journalist currently reviewing health options for her family. You can connect with her on Google+
(Image source: freedigitalphotos.net)