3 Ways to Encourage Healthy Habits in Your Children

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By Micky Marie Morrison, PT, ICPFE, Contributing Writer
Updated January 30, 2017
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Image: Veer / The Bump

It may seem like common sense, but a new study from Duke University gives us proof that a child’s home environment can significantly reduce his chances of becoming obese.

According to the Center for Disease control, childhood obesity has more then doubled in children and more than tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years, with more than one third of children and adolescents overweight or obese in 2010. With the incidence of childhood obesity so sharply on the rise, any information that can help curb that trend is pertinent.

Duke researchers remind parents that they are their children’s role models. The study examined the eating and exercise habits of 190 two to five-year old children and their families. Not surprisingly, the study found that the children of families who encouraged regular physical activity and healthy eating habits, and who themselves mirrored those habits, exhibited significantly reduced incidence of obesity. Children of parents who limit their child’s junk food intake scored significantly higher on the healthy eating scale. Children of parents who exercise regularly themselves were also more physically active, underscoring the notion that healthy habits start at home.

What can you do to encourage healthy habits in your children?

1. Limit junk food.

Explore healthy snack options instead. Choose whole, natural foods over packaged and processed products whenever possible.

Here are a few ideas:

If you like to cook and are worried about crafting healthy eating habits early on, start with the Baby-Friendly Cookbooksand Toddler-Friendly Cookbooks — they’re loaded with healthy ideas your ladies and gents will love!

If baby just started on solids, this Stage 1 Feeding Guide (and Stage 2 Feeding Guide) will make sure he’s getting the nutrients he needs.

Related Video

Looking for healthy finger food alternatives to junk food snacks? These homemade Stage 3 Feeding Guide recipes are perfect for babies one year and up!

2. Be an example.

Take a good look at your own eating and exercise habits. If there is room for improvement, make the effort. It could significantly improve the quality and longevity of your life as well as that of your child.

Here are a few ideas:

Staying ‘healthy’ doesn’t come down to just eating and working out. It’s a total lifestyle change. Indulging in some ’ Me Time’ will show your kids that what you do on the outside is just as important as what you put on the inside.

Get back in the kitchen! (And no, we don’t mean that in a negative way.) Prepping meals and cooking at home will save you cash — and calories. Try these 7 Quick and Easy New Mom Recipes.

Eat better! It’s easy to get stuck in a food rut, but these healthy tips will keep you full of new ideas.

3. Make fitness a family activity.

Walks, hikes, biking, rollerblading, swimming, and anything that gets you all moving together provides good bonding time while encouraging you all to get and stay fit together.

Here are a few ideas:

Exercise together! It doesn’t have to be all about shedding pounds. These Mommy and Me Workout DVDs will get your kids interested in running around, moving their bodies and having fun!

Workout together! With a toddler hanging around you all day, it’s hard to fit a workout in — so why not do it together? Invest in a jogging stroller and hit the track together!

Think outside the box. Today, there are so many fun alternative ways to workout that are just as good (if not better!) than hitting the gym. Try Pilates, taking a dance class or getting fit with the Wii!

How do you encourage your eaters to make healthier options?

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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