Saturday, February 26, 2011

Heart Health For The Family

We believe that an important part of natural parenting is eating well, taking care of your body, and teaching your kids that a healthy lifestyle is a happy lifestyle.  So, a few more tips for the weekend.  I feel like these tips are so important especially because Nolan and I agreed that this year, as a resolution, we would focus on our health and teaching our kids healthy habits.  We hope you do the same and encourage you to share your tips as well!

-Take the food pyramid seriously, especially when it comes to fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  We grow our veggies in the summer and buy fresh from farmers in Vermillion.  Every day, we focus on getting in some whole grains, more veggies, more fruit, and more water.  We've cut back drastically on sweets, soda, and mindless snacking.  All of us have seen better health and higher energy as a result!

-Make exercise part of your family's lifestyle.  After dinner, if you can, squeeze in a 30 minute family walk.  Encourage your kids to participate in intramural and extracurricular sports.  You and your kids can learn to do yoga, stretching, and other new activities together!  Try to build one or more fun activity into your weekend schedules every month that is focused on getting physical, whether it's playing tag, going skating, kicking or throwing a ball around, or throwing a living room dance party.

-Introduce your kids and yourself to a new vegetable and whole grain dish every week.  You might be surprised to discover all the new things you like!  I've made tabbouleh salad, quinoa dishes with salmon and broccoli, and others with surprisingly good reviews from my family.  There are dozens of websites devoted to healthy and family friendly dishes.

-If you bake a lot, start working with substituting oat flour or whole wheat flour and apple sauce instead of refined sugars and bleached flours.  The sweets will fill you up better, leaving less room for seconds and thirds.  You are also getting more fruits and grains in your diet!

-Teach your kid the truly healthy habit of decompressing when stressed out.  A stressed person often has a much higher risk of heart conditions, but a person who take the time to address and let go of stress often has (according to lots of medical studies) lower blood pressure and a much lower risk of heart disease.  Your kids might have different styles of blowing off steam and stress- maybe going for a walk or run, maybe a nice, long bath, or maybe a journal.  Teach them there are lots of ways to chill out and let go so that they are happier and healthier as they get older.

-Finally, practice what you preach.  you can't force your kiddos to eat apple slices and carrot sticks while you drink soda and eat potato chips.  Let them see you eating fruits and veggies, drinking water, and exercising.  Make sure to reinforce this by saying things like "I do these things because they make me feel healthier and stronger."

What are your favorite ways to keep your family healthy and happy?  Share!

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