By Teresa Wagner, MS, RD, LD
As we exit another holiday season and look towards a new year, no doubt we all tried to give our kids meaningful and lasting holiday gifts. But the most lasting of gifts we can give our kids is teaching them the keys to a healthy lifestyle to carry into adulthood.
In order to answer this question, I asked my 21 year-old daughter who minds her portions and exercises regularly how I had inspired her to lead a healthy lifestyle. Her response was, “Be a good role model”. This was Tip #39 shared on Your Health Journal. We have heard that charge for years and as a media representative, I have said that more than one time when addressing kid’s health related topics on air…but what does that mean?
First, Be Fit
We all know we should exercise regularly but did you ever consider that getting kids up and moving teaches them to value an active lifestyle? There are many things you can do to be active with kids including walking them to school, riding bikes, playing catch or coaching them in sports, going for walks at the local duck pond or park, jumping rope, flying a kite or just playing outside in general. Just spending a good amount of non-sedentary time with your kids each day can help decrease the amount of time they spend in front of a screen or other less active activities.
Second, Be Fueled
Use food to fuel your body and teach kids to do the same. Emphasize balance, variety and moderation above everything else. As the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states, all foods can fit! People should enjoy their food and not think restrictively but fuel their body for life’s challenges whether those are day-to-day or intentional physical challenges. Thus, a good rule of thumb is the 80:20 rule. Eat nutritiously 80% of the time and take a little more leeway the other 20% of the time. This rule helps people have a rounded perspective on food and emphasizes choosing nutrient-rich foods first but enjoying a variety of foods in general.
Third, Be Fun
Keeping things fun goes a long way in engaging kids in their health. Occasionally, going above the every day with fun outings to the skating rink, a theme park or water park or planning an active vacation or weekend whether zip-lining, hiking, riding horses, water or snow skiing can again demonstrate a healthy, active lifestyle. There are active outings that can fit any budget or preference.
Food can be an adventure as well. Take the kids to the grocery store and have them shop with you.
Be Fit, Be Fueled and Be Fun! All easy lifestyle mantras that will not only benefit your kids but help keep your health in model condition. These may be some of the most important skills you ever teach your kids because quality of life is a gift that keeps on giving.