The benefits of staying healthy as a family go beyond just the physical. While it is important to teach children the importance of healthy behaviors, and creating life-long healthy habits, it can also strengthen the family bond.
Family wellness is best viewed as a point where all members of the household are having their needs met. Doing so requires a level of sacrifice on everyone’s part, such as knowing when to set aside a personal ambition in order to contribute to the overall well-being of the family. It is also necessary to remember that a healthy household is not just one that is physically active and has healthy eating habits. It is just as important that within the home there are loving, supportive, and healthy relationships.
Benefits of Healthy Behaviors
From physical benefits like forming healthy exercise and nutrition habits to creating an increasingly strong bond with all the members in your family, establishing a wellness plan that encompasses the entire family is key.
The benefits of physical activity are well known as are the consequences of leading a sedentary lifestyle. It is important to remember that children mimic the behaviors of the adults in their lives. Our actions speak louder than words! When we expose children to physically active habits early on, they are more likely to adopt and carry those habits throughout their lives. There are even unexpected benefits to young children that come from a physically active family; such as learning teamwork, leadership, and quality decision making skills.
Being a physically active family does not have to be expensive. Below are some ideas of healthy activities with little or no cost:
- Visiting a museum
- Taking a family walk after dinner instead of watching television
- Working in the yard
- Tending to a flower or vegetable garden
- Playing catch
- Playing basketball in the park
- Playing pretend animal games
- Going for a bike ride
- Setting aside a screen-less day on the weekend
Healthier Eating Habits
Changing your eating habits, and especially that of your family, can seem like a big undertaking. However, this can be accomplished when a family approaches it by taking some small, easy steps:
Our mother always said that breakfast was the most important meal of the day and it turns out she was right! A healthy breakfast has been associated with better memory, higher test scores, and improved overall nutrition. Need some healthy breakfast suggestions?
Healthy snacks encourage and reinforce the habit of choosing healthier options during mealtimes. Always keep the “healthy snack formula” in mind – Protein + Fiber + Healthy Fat. Celery sticks and almond butter, fresh fruit and cottage cheese, or carrot sticks, almonds and cheese are some great examples.
Overeating can be easy when you put too much on your plate. Make sure you know the difference between serving size and portion size.
When a family eats together, it is about more than just breaking bread together. It gives you the opportunity to introduce your family to new foods and recipes. Plus, it lets them see you eating it as well!
The first step to creating healthy eating habits for your family is to EAT as a family. Family meals aren’t just about everyone eating at the same time, it is about creating the comforting ritual. This time provides family members the chance to talk to one another, without the distraction of screens, and discuss the events of their day. It can also be important to divide the tasks at mealtime to help younger children understand that we all play an important role in the household.
Children also learn some valuable lessons at the dinner table. It can help them to build their self-esteem by having their parents ask about their day and really listen to what they have to say. It may not seem like a big deal to the parents, but what the child hears is, “I value what you have to say; and what you do is important to me.” Even teenagers, who often give the appearance of being annoyed when partaking in family activities, still look to their parents for advice and guidance. Even the simple act of sitting together and discussing the day can help everyone to deal with daily stressors!
How Family Wellness Affects Each Member
If we are going to promote wellness in regards to the entire family, we must also take a look at the impacts that it has on each member; the child, the teenager, and the parent(s). Each member of the family must reach a balance between pursuing their personal goals with contributing to the overall well-being of the remaining family members. Different age groups have different wellness needs that must be provided by or enhanced by those around them.
Learn more about how children’s wellness is effected by their family.
Despite their statements to the contrary, teenagers still need their family.
Adults’ well-being is just as dependent on their family as their kids’ is.
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