Healthy Household: 4 Ways to Cultivate a Family Lifestyle of Wellness

As parents, we ensure the safety, health and wellness of our children. Along with a happy and loving home, our job is to create a lifestyle and household that supports our family's overall health. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), an estimated 17 percent children between the ages of two and 19 are obese (12.7 million). What's a concerned parent to do?

Get started with these great ideas about how you can help prevent obesity and other poor health effects from happening to your family.

Start the Day with Breakfast

The most important meal of the day tends to be the most skipped meal of the day—breakfast. Between rushing kids off to school and making it to work on time, breakfast gets lost in the shuffle. Without a healthy breakfast, your kids are likely to fill up on unhealthy snacks at school, lose energy and even underperform academically. By eating breakfast, your family is more likely to receive essential vitamins and minerals and have better emotional stability and mental alertness. Regular healthy breakfasts can also help children avoid becoming overweight, which can affect not only their physical health, but social health as well.

Whole Foods Market offers a breakfast menu as a guide for getting a proper protein-rich wakeup.

Minimize Snacking, Provide Healthier Options

Snacking becomes a household habit, especially without a controlled environment. Your responsibility as a parent is to cultivate a lifestyle that keeps only healthy snacks within reach and doesn't support constant snacking throughout the day. It's easier to establish these snacking guidelines early on when kids are young, creating the mindset that unhealthy treats aren't an all-day, everyday option. Ditch the idea of sugary cereals and cookies for apple slices with peanut butter, homemade trail mix or low-fat yogurt with berries. Make watching TV a no-snacking activity.

Joy Bauer, MS, RN, CDS, a leading authority on health and weight loss, recommends following a consistent meal and snack schedule. Space eating at least two hours apart with a max of 2-3 snacks per day; try to limit snacks to 150 calories.

Move Together as a Family

Complement a healthy breakfast and minimal snacking with exercise—the equal partner of nutritional eating for creating a life of wellness. For the little ones, play with them in the backyard and take them to the park. For older children, set rules for how long they can play video games and watch TV. Introduce your children to sports at an early age, as sports can become a habitual, positive part of their lives as they grow. Once your kids reach the teenage years, join a fitness club together as a family. Studio classes, such as indoor cycling, dancing and heart-pumping cardio are structured, fun ways to break a sweat. You can even start a family-fitness challenge by setting goals, making a plan, tracking progress and achieving rewards.

Turn Nature into a Gym and Playground

Change up your family's sports and fitness routines with family outdoor outings. Just being in the sun and among the fresh air can help children learn to focus better, free the mind of stress, eliminate any moodiness and build family bonds. Head to a hike/bike trail where you can pick up the pace with a "last man sprint" exercise. Form a single line while jogging. The family member in the back of the line must sprint to the front to be the new leader. Continue this until you've reach a destination or time goal.

A 5K is another great way to exercise, with the opportunity to do so alongside your community and benefit a cause. Training for the event can also keep your family moving. Create an upbeat exercise playlist together and go for a brisk walk or jog after dinner (instead of resorting to the couch to watch TV). Eventually you and your family can increase the intensity as you build endurance by signing up for a 10K and maybe even a half marathon.

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