In a culture that is inundated with unhealthy habits and foods, it can be an enormous challenge for parents to instill in their children a good sense of healthy habits. Although it may be impossible to completely avoid fast food, there are plenty of choices that you can make as a family to promote better heart health in your kids. To teach your children positive habits that will protect them from many forms of heart disease, try adopting some of the following habits.
1. Turn off the TV. Don’t let your kids fall into the pattern of endlessly watching TV. If they spend all their time watching TV and sitting in front of the computer now, they’ll do the same thing as adults. Set a time limit for the TV or the computer for each day, and then encourage kids to play outside or engage in other activities.
2. Develop a dinnertime routine. If dinner is a family event each evening, kids are less likely to snack throughout the afternoon on less healthy foods. Make a habit of sitting down to eat together so that kids expect a hearty meal at the end of the day.
3. Get some exercise as a family. Instead of going to see a movie, take a hike! Go on a bike ride around the neighborhood or play a game of soccer. Group activities are a great way to make sure that kids get plenty of exercise so that they have strong hearts.
4. Assign active chores. If you’re having trouble thinking of ways to get your kids off the couch, ask them to attend to chores that require activity. Send them out to wash the car, rake leaves, or mow the lawn.
5. Serve heart-healthy foods. Offer your kids meals that include some of the best heart-healthy foods, such as salmon, whole grains, fresh veggies, and nuts. If they become used to eating these foods as children, they’ll be much more likely to make good diet choices as adults.
6. Avoid fried, fatty foods. This one is a no-brainer. Whenever possible, keep your children from eating any kind of fast food, especially if it has the word “fried” in the name.
7. Teach kids to read labels. Train your kids to learn about their food before they buy it so that they know what to look for and what to avoid. Reading labels will make them much more conscious of their diet for the rest of their lives.
Following these easy tips will help your children keep a healthy-heart not only now, but also as adults.