As parents, we go through the training process from birth to
graduation with our kids, even longer. One thing we may or may not have passed onto our
children is how to live a healthy lifestyle. It is tough to do with a fast food, microwave
society, busy family, for sure. But you can do it
whether you are just starting to live healthier or whether you have been all
your life. The next generation is counting on you!
How do parents sabotage their efforts?
We sabotage our healthy lifestyle legacy with our children a
number of ways. When we sneak treats
because we just have to have them, we tell our kids that we aren’t serious
about this. When we feed them “kid food”,
we tell them that it’s boring to be a grown up.
When we clean their plates if they leave food behind, we teach them two things: 1) to overeat, and
2) their food is more interesting than ours. When we over focus on being thin,
we set some children up for anorexia or bulimia, depending on their
personalities. We also tell them they will never be good enough. Even though we never think we teach them these things, we still do.
Remember that your actions speak louder than your words.
How we live it out and the manner with which we teach them will make a
tremendous difference in how well the lessons stay with them. Here are some things to remember as you build a healthy lifestyle legacy:
- No one likes lectures. Use teachable moments as you go instead of "lecture time". What you tell them will stick better, especially if they ask a question.
- Kids will rebel if they feel forced. Starting the training from infancy is so much easier than if they are tweens or teens, but it is possible. Begin slowly introducing new things like cut veggies in the fridge with a tasty, healthy dip or a pushup contest.
- Get both parents on board with the healthy living platform. If one of you is a healthy-lifestyler and the other is the burger-and-fries guy, it will be tough. Find teachable moments with the non-healthy spouse such as reminding him or her about Uncle Harry dying of a heart attack at 55 who was such a steak-and-potatoes guy. Asking for help in the kitchen while you make a healthy version of their favorite meal could also warm them up to your plan.
- Do a clean sweep in your house. Ditch the junk you have and replace it with delicious, healthy food everyone can enjoy. If the junk isn't there, it can't be eaten.
- Make kid-friendly treats together. Find healthy food recipes just for kids and invite them to do experiments in the kitchen.
- Find fun fitness activities for the family. Try flying kites in the park or roller blade together.
- Turn this project into a friendly competition complete with
non-food rewards. Make sure everyone can follow the "game" with a chart or cell phone app. For example, setting up a total number of steps challenge or weight lost (careful with teens on this though). Do it weekly so the rewards are frequent.
- Limit t.v. and other media. It is easy for people to get sucked into a game or show for hours. Set a timer with a 5 minute margin to finish what they are doing. You may need to lock electronics in the "safe" to help make this change.
Living and teaching a healthy lifestyle should be fun and engaging to everyone in the family. Although there will likely be resistance from someone, the resister is really watching to see the outcome. Don't give up! What you teach now will last a lifetime.
God bless you!
Some sites with recipes for kids:
Some sites for fun family activities: