4 Healthy Habits for Healthy Families

If you want to instill healthy eating and exercise habits, start at home.

February 11, 2013
4 Healthy Habits for Healthy Families

What example are we, as moms setting for our household?

Whether you’re a stay at home mom or a working women often us mom’s set the habits of the household. We tend to be the master planners of all events; a walking social calendar. So what habits are we establishing, what habits do we want to instill in our children, and what habits have we fallen victim to.

No question, habits are hard to break but once a new healthy habit has been set, it’s usually smooth sailing. One way to break an old, unhealthy habit is to replace it with a new healthy one. For instance, if your weekly habit is to stop by Starbucks and grab a donut and sugary drink to start your day; change it up, and opt for a protein shake (I love MHP’s Banana Protein) and sugar-free coffee. Sure, the first week it may be hard, but as time passes you will establish a new healthier habit.

Another habit busy mom’s often fall victim to is the dinnertime dilemma. Many moms opt to run through a fast food joint instead of preparing healthy meals for the family. Many moms ask me, “Don’t you ever run through and pick up fast food for your kids?” The simple answer is yes, but not every night, or even every week. I believe in moderation. Of course my kids have had a Happy Meal, but it’s a treat… it’s not an everyday occurrence. My kids understand this concept, and because they are use to eating healthy and making healthy choices when we are out, they often opt for healthier choices without my direction. I will not always be with my kids to watch their choices, however, if I instill the healthy habits now my hope is they will continue them when they are older. To turn the drive through dilemma around, prepare family meals for the week ahead of time so that all you have to do is pop it in the oven when you have time.

How can we make our households healthier places?

Because we as moms most often do the shopping, we instill our eating habits on our children. Do we purchase sugary cereals, processed snacks, and cookies or do we stick to healthier options such as whole grain cereals, fruits, vegetables, and nuts? Again this is an area where it may be hard at first to break the unhealthy habits, but after time it will become easier. I must be clear here though, it’s not that I never buy a treat for myself or for my kids, but it’s just that—a treat. Moderation is the key here; when junk food is in the house it gets eaten, when it’s not there it won’t tempt you.

A rule I like to follow is this: One treat a week. What does this look like for my family? We eat clean throughout the week, purchasing healthy options at the store, and planning meals ahead as to avoid the drive through dilemma; then on the weekend we get to have a treat. I like to do our “treat meal” at a restaurant. Why? First, when you go to a restaurant you get a little break from cooking—always a nice break. Second, you can order the treat you have been craving all week. Let’s say, for instance, you have been craving a brownie Sunday, so you make a pan of brownies and buy a tub of ice cream. Now, are you really going to toss the left over ice cream and brownies away? I think not! More than likely you will snack on them until they are gone, sabotaging your health habits. When you order a treat out you are limited to one treat, and then it’s back to clean eating until the next treat!

Another unhealthy habit most families fall victim to is too much TV time. All too often families spend hours in front of the TV. Yes, my kids watch TV but it’s limited, and they enjoy other activities over TV time. After dinner in the summer we always take a walk to the park or jump on our bikes for a nighttime ride. Try to replace some of the families TV time with time spent being active.

If you stop to think about all the habits you form and how many of them are being picked up by your children, it’s amazing to see that your actions—unhealthy or healthy—are often the actions your entire family is following. Set some new healthy habits for yourself and I’m sure you will see that your family follows! Start simple by following these few habit-changing tips: 1) change the daily routine to substitute unhealthy habits for healthy ones; 2) prepare meals ahead to avoid the drive through dilemma; 3) clean eating throughout the week, with one weekend treat; and 4) trade out TV time for a family activity.

IFBB Pro Sandi Forsythe
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