June 2008

Family Health Makeover

Author: Theresa Jackson

Turn off the Tube and Get Your Family Up and Moving!

Did your family have a long day at work and school? No doubt you are exhausted and can’t wait for dinner. So you’ve picked something up on the way home or open a pre-packaged meal to heat in the microwave. Maybe after dinner everyone will sit down to relax in front of the TV. Or maybe you still have some work to catch up on and need to battle your kids for time on the computer.

Does this sound like a typical weeknight in your home? You may feel that your family could improve in overall health and fitness, but with each day flying by it’s easy to get distracted and simply keep following the same routine.

Take the first step
It is never going to get easier, so why not take a moment to determine just how healthy your family is. Start by using a BMI (Body Mass Index) calculator to determine if anyone in your family is overweight. (Find one online at www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi.)

If so, examine your eating habits. Does your family eat out or buy fast foods more than once a week? How many soft drinks does your family drink in a day? How many meals have fruits or vegetables included, and what kind of snacks are you eating on a regular basis?

Being overweight is not necessarily a matter of eating too much. It is often an indication of not being active enough. How active is your family? Do you drive everywhere? Watch more than 2-4 hours of TV per day? Does anyone engage in fitness or sports programs?

Even if no one in your family is overweight, you may feel that your family is not as fit or healthy as it could be. So what can you do?

Small changes—big difference
You don’t need a major lifestyle makeover to start increasing your family’s health and well-being. Some steps to a healthier lifestyle simply require a bit of forethought and planning. Here are a few suggestions:

• Sit down for meals as a family. Eating together, without the TV or radio, not only helps you develop an awareness of what and how much everyone is eating, but also builds family bonds through conversation during the meal. Start with at least one meal per week and build to at least one meal per day together.

• Replace soft drinks and other sugary drinks with milk and water. The amount of sugar (up to 13 teaspoons) in a soft drink is not only calorie-filled but saps energy as well. Not having soft drinks or sugar laden fruit punches in the home at all will help everyone develop new habits. Switching to a lower fat milk will also help and is hardly noticeable in terms of taste.

• Reduce TV time and limit computer, video games and other sedentary activities. Encouraging other activities such as board games, outdoor play, household chores and organized sports or programs helps children develop better self-esteem and create bonds with peers and family members.

• Offer healthy alternatives. Setting out a bowl of baby carrots and low fat ranch dressing is as easy as a bowl of chips and dip. Buying a jump rope or bike as a gift is as easy as choosing a new computer game or video. Joining friends for a game of soccer or learning a new dance is as fun as instant messaging or hanging at the mall.

Start small. It’s better to make a few gradual changes than to expect everyone to stick to a new routine. Making diet and activity changes means you and your children need to plan alternatives or else you will become frustrated and slip back into old habits. Your efforts to set a good example can set your children up for a lifetime of better health!

Theresa Jackson is a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Nutritional Counselor who is also pursuing a doctorate in Natural Health. She is the Founder & President of Wellness Within Centers with programs in weight reduction, smoking cessation, stress relief, healing from chronic illness, business and motivation, and golf performance improvement. You can reach the Wellness Within office by calling 843-986-9700.

Have a question? E-mail theresa@wellnesswithincenters.com.

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