How to inspire your kids to live a healthy lifestyle

Babies and young children imitate their parents – from mimicking their mannerisms to repeating what they say. And when it comes to eating and lifestyle habits, this is no different.

As a parent, you are a role model and a leader – so, if a healthy family unit is what you are striving for then it’s important to make a conscious effort to adopt a healthy attitude and lifestyle.

So, without further ado, here are my five simple but effective tips for encouraging a healthy lifestyle:

1 – Promote Healthy EatingMothers and fathers generally do the food shopping for the household, so their understanding of healthy eating is critical to the food choices of the rest of the family. Choosing whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables, lean meats and healthy fats, can establish lifelong habits. Limiting the number of processed foods and reducing the intake of sugar and salt can help kids maintain a healthy weight and avoid health problems later in life. Parents can also reinforce this by growing a home garden, involving the kids in shopping and cooking, and encouraging them to drink more water and fewer sugary drinks.

2 – Exercise with Your Family
Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Research suggests that regular exercise helps to keep bones healthy, the cardiovascular system strong, as well as reducing stress and even improves mental function. When parents are active, children are more likely to engage in physical activities of their own. In addition to this, being active with your children encourages healthy habits and improves family bonding.

3- Get Regular Physical Examinations
When parents get annual physical exams, children learn that regular checkups are one of the best ways to ensure full health and detect and prevent illnesses early on. They can be assured that preventative care is a valuable resource for health maintenance and that early treatment of problems can reduce the impact of the disease. As well as this, when parents treat visits to the doctor as a part of their routine, they can alleviate fears about medical care in their children.

4 – Discuss Nicotine, Alcohol and Drugs
It’s important to talk to your children about thedangers of smoking and how to resist peer pressure – even from a young age. Studies show that the younger a person takes up smoking, the higher the levels of dependency and the greater the risk of developing lung cancer and heart disease. And whilst it is advised that you discuss the dangers of smoking, it’s also worth remembering that this advice may be better received if delivered by a non-smoker. After all, “do as I say, not as I do” may not have quite the same effect! The same applies to alcohol consumption – if you feel that you’re reaching for the bottle too often then reducing your alcohol intake will not only be beneficial for your own health but will also set the best example for your children. Finally, the subject of drugs can be a taboo one however it’s advantageous to have a frank discussion with your children about the associated risks and dangers of drug taking.

5- Talk about Sexual Health
An open discussion about birth control and the prevention of sexually transmitted infections can help to protect your children as they enter young adulthood. Experts recommend providing age appropriate information that answers their questions at various levels of understanding.

As parents, it’s our job to ensure that our children are offered the best chance in life. Raising your children to have a well-rounded healthy attitude will not only benefit them in their younger years but it will also have a great impact on their adult lives. Many of the life threatening illnesses that thousands are affected by each year are a result of lifestyle factors such as smoking, unhealthy eating and alcohol. For example, research suggests that only 5-10% of cancers are hereditary whereas the remaining 90-95% are as a result of lifestyle factors. In the UK alone today, a staggering 2.5 million people have received a cancer diagnosis. In order to reduce your child’s risk of developing such illnesses in later life, it’s important that we are open with our children and encourage them to pick up good habits – like the ones listed above.

If you have any concerns about your own health or your children’s health, it’s best to seek medical advice. However, if you’re simply just seeking more information on healthy living, your local health centre or school will be able to put your mind at ease.