Coping With Lifestyle Routine Variety In The Family
Trying to manage a healthy lifestyle for yourself and family can be a real challenge. Different school, work and activity schedules can make it hard to coordinate meals and healthy group activities for the family.
We hear it over and over again: “diet and exercise are important!” It’s repeated so often that it’s become trite and people forget just how true it actually is! Unfortunately, the facts are the facts: being overweight or obese can lead to all sorts of health problems, from high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and coronary heart disease - among others - and increase the risk of potentially life-altering events such as stroke or heart attack.
Get the Family Involved!
One way to make sure you stick to a diet or get enough exercise is by having accountability partners, and who makes better accountability partners than your family? Not only can you all hold each other accountable, but a family-wide diet and exercise plan ensures family-wide health. In this post, we’re going to take a look at how the whole family can work together to develop a healthy lifestyle.
How Can I Coordinate My Family’s Health Plan?
Depending on age, physical fitness, and certain dietary requirements, the needs of one family member may not match up with another. Obviously, a growing child is going to require a lot more calories than a parent who’s overweight and wants to slim down. In general, though, there are foods that are unhealthy for everyone and there are foods that are healthy - barring dietary restrictions - for everyone. We’ll give some general health tips below, while pointing out foods that can meet certain dietary restrictions.
The same applies to exercise - maybe one of the parents is lifting weights and, clearly, we don’t expect a child to lift heavy weights with their parent! However, there are a variety of exercise routines that families can perform together - make an event out of it! There’s a lot of fun, along with important health benefits, to be had here.
First, let’s look at diet. Poor diet is more responsible for weight gain than lack of exercise, and the average American diet is especially unhealthy - we eat tons of processed foods, from fast foods to deli meats, along with foods high in sugars and saturated fats. Additionally, we also tend to miss out on some of nature’s simple, healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables. So, what foods should you avoid and which should you add to your family’s diet?
Opt for Whole-Wheat Bread, Not White Bread
Although it’s a classic of the Western diet, you should consider cutting out white bread. This is actually surprisingly bad for us, having been stripped of healthful nutrients and packed with unhealthy sugars.
Peanut butter and jelly is fine - peanut butter especially is good for children as it includes a lot of protein - but try to put it on whole wheat bread and don’t lather on too much peanut butter or jelly. Peanut butter has a lot of nutrients in it but also a high calorie and fat content. Whole-wheat bread is great, but for family members who can’t eat gluten look for gluten-free bread.
Get Rid of Soda
Another food you should definitely remove from your family’s diet is soda. Soda is packed with calories - to make it worse, these are liquid calories that do not provide any nutrition (the one exception is milk). Soda can also make it easier for your body to accumulate fat around your belly and internal organs. Consider opting for seltzer. You may think fruit juice is healthy but this should also be avoided as it’s high in sugar. Try whole fruit juice instead.
Avoid Processed Meats
As indicated above, processed meats are unhealthy. These include foods like hot dogs, sausages, deli meats, and more which are packed with artificial chemicals to preserve their color or extend their shelf life. Excessive intake of processed meat has actually been linked with cancer. Although eating it occasionally is probably fine, you should in general swap it out for non-processed meats such as chicken. For the vegetarians in your family try tofu or nuts and legumes, which make a good alternative to chicken.
Healthy Foods Your Kids Will Like
Not every healthy food is something that tastes terrible which your children won’t want to eat. Try to include at least one serving of vegetables with every meal as these are packed with essential vitamins and antioxidants. Sauteed asparagus is actually surprisingly tasty, as are Brussel sprouts, certain cooked mushrooms, or glazed carrots.
Kids often enjoy yogurt too. These include probiotics which benefit the digestive system, along with calcium for healthy bone development.
Keto, Whole Food Plant Based, Vegitarian, The Mediterranean Diet and Other Diets
There are many types of diets that people use and promote, but there does seem to be a common thread of avoiding processed foods in favor of whole foods. Deciding which type of diet is best for you is a personal decision which can be influenced by the people around you and the types of food they eat.
The Mediterranean diet was first discovered to be healthful back in the 1960s as dieticians noticed communities who ate a traditional Mediterranean diet including nuts, fish, vegetables, and beans suffered fewer health problems than the rest of the population. Although it’s not necessary to adopt the Mediterranean diet in its entirety, you can certainly take some pointers from it. Fatty fishes like salmon or tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids, an important nutrient that is often missing from the American diet.
The whole food plant based diet is based around only eating whole foods, specifically non animal based products. Basically its about eating only fruits, vegitables, and limited amounts of nuts.
Next, let’s look at exercise. Although a person could certainly lose weight just from dieting, pairing diet with exercise ensures that the weight lost is fat weight and not muscle and bone weight, too.
Especially nowadays, with video games, tablets, and smartphones, it’s important to get your kids off the couch and moving. This doesn’t mean cut out these fun activities completely, just do your best to make sure they’re not doing them to the total exclusion of physical exercise.
Go for Walks or Bike Around the Neighborhood
Family walks are a great idea - this can just be a simple walk around the neighborhood. Alternatively, consider looking for local parks that include trails in your area using Google. You may be surprised to find beautiful parks with long, winding pathways that you didn’t even realize existed close by. Biking is another great family activity.
Exercises You Can Do At Home
You might not even need to leave your home - if you’re in a house, you might have enough room in the backyard to throw a frisbee around, or consider buying a basketball hoop for the driveway. If you’re living in an apartment, you can try a simple exercise DVD - everyone gets in front of the TV and performs the exercises together. Beginner Tai Chi is a good option that’ll also help the family to reduce stress.
Encourage Individual Exercise, Too
Try to pick one activity for everyone but each family member can do their own thing, too. Maybe one of your children is old enough to take a karate class or sign up for little league, while the other one has to make do with some simple exercises in front of the TV. That’s fine!
Exercising with the whole family sets a good example for kids - it shows them that their parents take physical fitness seriously, and the habits you help them build up could last well into adulthood and prevent them from developing avoidable health problems. Overall, the family has nothing to lose (except maybe excess weight and unhealthy habits!) and a lot to gain.
Get Your Family’s Input
When it comes to setting up exercise routines, it’s important to get the input of your family. Your spouse and children are much more likely to get on board if the exercise is something they want to do. Maybe your children already love biking, or they want to try some form of martial arts like Tai Chi.
This is important for diet, too. While it’s probably not a good idea to ask your 10-year-old kid to come up with a diet plan - cookies and cakes every day, anybody? - maybe they remember some healthy meal you made that they really enjoyed. On the other hand, maybe they remember a healthy meal you made that they didn’t enjoy, and so you know to either spice up that meal or avoid it altogether.
Come Up With a Schedule
In order to meet your health goals, it’s a good idea to come up with a schedule for diet and exercise. For example, you might try to eat omega-3 rich seafood once a week. You can set this to a specific day of the week, or vary it up so that you don’t get bored. Maybe Friday can be ice cream day, where you reward yourself and the rest of your family for keeping on schedule
We understand you’re busy, but we advise trying to get in exercise at least two to three days a week. You don’t need to turn into some ridiculous “adventure family” and go hiking or mountain climbing; it can be something as simple as going for a walk around the neighborhood or using an exercise video for 20 minutes before sitting down to watch a show on Netflix (hold the unhealthy snacks though!).
There might be some days where it’s just not possible to get exercise in, and that’s ok. Try to make up for it another day. One way you can make this more fun and goal-oriented, especially for the kids, is by coming up with a monthly goal for, for instance, steps taken and, when the goal is met, the people who reached it get an award.
We’re Here to Help!
So, how can you keep track of exercise, diet, and monthly walking quotas? Look no further than the KusogLife app. We’re all about helping individuals and families meet their goals for healthy living. Our app includes various tools that will help you keep track of your progress and help you stay on track. Overall, it makes it much easier for families to make lasting healthy life changes instead of becoming sidetracked.