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Adopting Healthy Habits as a Family

Mom and child smiling

While not necessarily easy, intentionally forming healthy habits - and having your family get on board with you - is possible. You just need to be armed with the following strategies:

Create a plan. Focus on one area at a time. If you get too ambitious, you run the real risk of overwhelming your clan! Maybe you want to get active, eat more healthy food, and simplify your life, but you’ll need to pick only one and hone in on that to start. For example, begin by upping your activity level and scheduling regular family bike rides three days a week.

Within your plan, think baby steps. Instead of “I want us to eat better,” try thinking about one thing that you can improve and implement that. Maybe it’s cutting out soda from your diet and replacing it with water flavored with fresh berries or lemon. Once you succeed in making that change you can add another healthy habit to the mix.

Be realistic. Say you want to “unplug.” But the TV’s on, the laptops are open, and smartphones are buzzing seemingly 24/7. Putting a total moratorium on electronics usage is not only impractical; it’s unlikely to get you anywhere. Instead, call a family meeting and get everyone’s input on how to incorporate more face time and less screen time in your home. There are two benefits to this approach—by taking realistic steps to fix the problem, you are more likely to end up with a sustainable solution, and by getting family buy-in via a collective agreement, you are more likely see your loved ones comply.

Be prepared for obstacles. There will be setbacks along the way, and that’s OK. There’s no room for perfection when it comes to making the change to a healthy lifestyle! Encourage your family to put past choices behind them and look at each new moment as an opportunity to make a better choice.

Set a good example. By being the shining example of health and balance, your family members can model what they see you doing. You play an important role as guide and coach for your children as they make choices about eating.

Make it fun! Be creative as you introduce these ideas to your family. Incorporate games or adventurous outings into your bag of tricks to create a positive correlation with their newfound habits. After all, it’s healthy to laugh!

If all else fails… eat dinner together as a family. Research has shown that just eating together as a family can improve children’s nutritional health. Eat without the TV on and shoot for sitting down at least three days a week (ideally more).

Studies show that it takes a median time of 66 days to form a new habit. In the end, you’ll see that adopting healthy habits is more akin to running a marathon, not a sprint, and motivation is key. In this case, the reward of you and your family living more vibrant lives, at an ideal weight, with reduced risk of disease definitely justifies the effort!