Healthy Living: Make it a family goal to get healthy together.

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Make it a family goal to get healthy together.

You may have heard the saying it take a village to raise a child.  I always say it takes a village to get healthy but now my opinion is it takes several states to help a family get healthy.  Things are not as simple as they used to be in our homes and that has contributed directly to less healthy families in our country.

Yesterday I was reading an article on childhood obesity in the United States.  We may not have the highest obesity rate (that is held by the small country of Nauru which is an island near Australia) but we are not that far behind.  Right now the obesity rate of girls in the USA is 19% while the rate for boys is 23%

Scary numbers right?  Think about it.  One out of five girls is obese while close to one out of four boys is obese.  How did this happen and what can we do about it? The biggest contributor is inexpensive processed foods along with inactivity.

I have written about this before but it is time to bring attention to it again.  As a child born in the 60’s, not only were we outside from morning til evening, we also very rarely ate at a fast food restaurant. The trip to McDonald’s was reserved for VERY special occasions and we had a single hamburger, small fries and small drink. Not the ginormous meals that pass for lunch or dinner today.

Do you know how many calories are in a large or up-sized meal at your favorite fast food joint?  A large burger meal with a large fries and large drink is 1,620 calories.  ONE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED CALORIES.  That is for one meal.  Now multiply that by two or possibly even three trips through the drive through.  Unless you are an athlete, you do not need to consume over 4,000 calories to maintain your body.

The next contributor? Lack of exercise.  My girls had video games but my husband and I limited the amount of time they were able to play those games.  We also led a fairly active lifestyle with my being the Girl Scout Leader for both of their troops plus we enjoyed monthly family camping trips where there were no video games allowed.  My kids had to ride bikes, hike, canoe or swim. Poor things.

Where to start.

Would you like to make a few healthy lifestyle changes? First sit down with your family and enlist their support.  Establish goals and reward yourselves when your family reaches those goals.   Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

  1. Determine how many days you are able to eat dinner together at home. If your family has a very busy schedule, take a real good look at what is taking up your time. Possibly you can free up one or two evenings.
  2. Ask your kids if they would like to learn how to cook. Then ask them what would they like to cook.  You may be very surprised by this answer but that’s okay. Go with the flow because this is simply the starting point.
  3. Write the grocery list for the items you will need then take the kids with you to the grocery store. Use this time not only as time together but also as a life lesson.  Why is the price for the ground chuck more expensive than the chicken breast that is on sale?  How many ounces are there in a cup of milk. What is the difference between organic and non-organic apples?
  4. When the evening arrives for dinner at home, gather the kids and everything you purchased for dinner and get started.  Let the kids do most of the cooking and simply guide them.  The best thing we can do is instill a love of preparing healthy food for our families in our kids.
  5. Sit down and really enjoy dinner together.  A few topics would be to talk about plans for the weekend. What happened in school.
  6. Keep the momentum going by taking a short walk together. Maybe 10 – 15 minutes.
  7. You can enlist the kids to help you clean up after dinner but in our house the person that cooks doesn’t have to clean.  So when my husband cooks, I clean up. Keeps the peace too 😉

We can relearn from the good old days when preparing dinner and eating together as a family was simply the way it was.  Will it be easy? Absolutely not and you may end up with a mutiny on your hands. Will it be worth it?  Ask yourself that question after a few weeks. I bet your family’s answer will be yes.

Have a wonderful week!

To your health,

Denise



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