Thursday, January 17, 2013

10 Simple Strategies to Get Your Family Healthy & Active!

Out & Active!

This year I resolved to get my family more healthy and active, by employing 10 simply strategies.  I had taken inventory of my family’s daily nutrition, and realized that there was room for improvement in both the quality and quantity of food that my family consumed.  And assessing my family’s fitness level, it was clear that we could all do better in terms of increasing our daily physical activity.  So here are the 10 simple strategies that I implemented this year, to get my family healthy and active!

1. Add a Veggie, Add a Fruit! – This is such a simple step, but has been important in building my family’s nutrition level.  What this strategy entails, is adding at least one veggie and one fruit to every meal that my family consumes.  It goes something like this: boneless skinless chicken breast, with a side of green beans, and cantaloupe for dessert.  Just by adding this strategy to each family meal, it ensures that my family gets at least 6 servings of veggies and fruit per day.

2. There’s No Place Like Home! – Any way you slice it, homemade food is healthier.  Whether it’s a homemade soup, stew, roast or simple sandwich.  By making meals at home instead of purchasing  heavily processed or take-out food, I control the salt, sugar, fat and preservatives going into the family meal!  This strategy has allowed my husband and I plan out the nutrition of each family meal, and make it from scratch most days.
I AM CANADIAN, Eh!
Trike in the Snow
3. Foods that Pack a Punch! – In my quest to make my family healthier, my strategy has been to regularly serve foods that “pack more punch” (those higher in vitamins and minerals than the average food).  Some of these widely available foods have been broccoli, carrots, blueberries, mangoes, salmon, chicken, liver, and beans, to name just a few.  I’ve had no objections from my kids, as I’ve been sure to offer a mix of their favourites!   

4. Snacking Strategically – I found that my kids would always gravitate toward sweets after supper time.  They were programmed to believe that if they finished their dinner and displayed good behaviour, then they’d be rewarded with a treat.  So I’ve changed that mindset by implementing dessert 1 – 2 times weekly, and not necessarily offering it after dinner time.  If the kids are still snackish in the evening, my husband and I break out healthier choices like a sliced apple or pear. 

5. Portion control – Serving large portions is not just bad for the body due to the excess, but it’s also more costly, and can create food waste when the portion is too big to manage (especially among kids).  So, I’ve cut down on portion size for my entire family, offering an extra serving for those who are still hungry after the meal.  This strategy has been successful in combating overeating in my household, and has proven that moderation is key!
Some Very Talented Soul Made This Snow Dog!
6. All For One, and One For All! – It has been wonderful that my husband and I’ve embarked on this health and wellness journey together, so our vision of a healthier family is aligned.  I’m aware that getting one’s family onboard to eat better and exercise more regularly is not always easy, but having such a support system in place really helps contribute to the success of such a strategy!

7. The Family That Plays Together, Stays Together! – The Canadian winter can be long and cold, but I strategized to get out and active with my family this year—regardless of the weather.  When we had snow, this meant tobogganing as a family; and with the milder weather we’ve taken long walks together, albeit bundled up in parkas and snowsuits!  My aim has been to get 60 minutes of family exercise every day. 

8. Housework Hijinks! – Although this may not be the most popular option, one of my strategies has been to get my family more active around the house via housework.  Don’t underestimate the power of vigorously vacuuming, hefting laundry baskets up and down the stairs, and scouring the bathtub!  For rock hard abs, get the kid’s to pick up their toys and books off the floor—standing in an upright position!  Organize them into two teams, and it becomes a game—with the added bonus of a cleaner house!

9. Mall Walking! –  I find that mall walking can be a good source of exercise for my family, especially in the colder winter months.  My strategy has been to walk the mall’s entire circuit, in order to stretch out the exercise.  Did you know that many malls open early and have a Mall Walking Programme?  It’s a great way to stay fit for free in the extreme Canadian climate.

10. A Choice to Be Active & Healthy!  – It’s a choice to be active or remain sedentary.  Let’s face it, it’s easier for the family to be sedentary in the harsh Canadian winter, and choose to hibernate until the spring.  It’s also easy to choose unhealthy comfort foods during these cold, long days, instead of nutritious food choices.  However, good health isn’t just a number on the scale; it’s an elevated mental and physical state.  And with strategies like these in place, it’s a choice you can “actively” make for your family!

This article was written by me, Jenna Em, and appears in the Friday January 18th, 2013 edition of the Huffington Post Canada.

15 comments:

  1. Great tips! We follow almost all of these. I grew up in a house where my mom was always aware of healthier options and leading a healthy lifestyle, so it's really benefited me with my own family. Once you're used to it from a young age, it makes it so easy as you get older! Your kids will learn to embrace it all :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brandi, my mom was health aware when I was growing up. Unfortunately, I never really loved fruits & veggies and have had to overcome this obstacle (for example, I've never eaten an apple in uncooked form).

      However, the longer I stick to our meal plan, the easier it becomes.

      Delete
  2. Great tips!! My strategy with my kids is HIDDEN VEGETABLES! I like to ground up or mash vegetables and hid them in sauces and baking. My kids don't even know! Yesterday I made mashed turnip and told the kids it was mashed potatoes. They ate them commenting they were a little watery but very good! hee hee!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mommy_Jennof3, great tip! I should hide veggies on myself, as I'm not the biggest fan (but I'm getting better). My kids are actually the ones who love fruits and veggies!

      Delete
  3. Love these tips! We are also trying to live a healthier lifestyle by eating lots of fruits and vegetable, watching portion size and moderate exercise.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Our mall has a walking program, I love the idea, but the mall is SO small I get dizzy walking in circles LOL.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mommy Moment, that's a shame! Our mall is quite large, so you don't feel the curvature.

      Delete
  5. I'm with #7. I also believe you really need to lead by example.
    ps. I HATE MALL WALKERS :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Those are some really healthy goals. Not just for your physical health but also for some great family bonding.

    ReplyDelete
  7. These are great tips. Glad you posted them. I run my kids ragged before they run me ragged (most nights) but once in awhile they beat me to it. Outside and running and playing after dinner. I agree totally that planning to eat at home is the smartest option.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Love your strategies. I have never been much for sweets, they actually make me feel sick (3 little chocolate Easter eggs make me feel sick). I also love fruits and veggies. I just need to learn to eat at proper times and the right amounts....I should really read your blogs on implementing healthy eating and living and on your weight lose in order haha

    ReplyDelete
  9. Its easy to read,but so hard to follow a good daily routine

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...