Each year is a new chance to turn around lifestyles and an excuse to press the “reset” button to eliminate bad habits. Instead of focusing on the same resolution to “lose weight” every year only to end up discouraged, why not shift the focus to making your family a more active and healthy one?
The best way to reinforce New Year’s resolutions and goals is to have a reliable support system, and as a parent, the approach can make or break good intentions. Encourage the idea of being healthy rather than being thin, and participate in the challenge with them. You can make a list of new habits to adopt with them, like eating a well balanced breakfast and determine rewards at the end of each week when a goal is accomplished. Have the rewards revolve around the concept of physical well-being, such as planning a picnic to their favorite park or taking a trip out to the Phoenix Zoo. Enthusiasm is key, as children often mirror their parents’ behavior.
Increasing Physical Activity
An hour of physical activity daily is recommended, however, you can easily break up the time throughout the day. Try going for family walks after dinner or a bike ride around the ‘Green Belt’ instead of sitting down to watch the television. Want to expand the imagination a bit? Have your child make up stories and act them out, or start an art project with them. By promoting physical activity as a substitute for inactive habits, this can build a child’s confidence in their abilities and can open up their desire to be creative. While you may suggest sports for your child to partake in, remember that it is ultimately their decision with what they are comfortable doing.
The biggest challenge with children is how to incorporate the daily recommended amount of 5-8 servings of fruits and vegetables into dishes they would like. Again, by changing your approach to healthy foods, you can change your child’s perspective. Take them grocery shopping and have them choose the produce. Some yummy snacks can include whole grain graham crackers with peanut butter, fresh fruit, or pistachio nuts. Substitute coconut water flavored with real fruit juice for soda to cut back on your child’s intake of sugar. Something to keep in mind: try not to use treats to reward behaviors or to finish their plate of veggies, as this places more value on the treat rather than eating the food for nourishment.
With a positive perception and the right mindset, the health challenge encourages healthy development for a child. Modifying behaviors early on will cement habits that will carry over into adulthood.