Like Father, Like Son

shutterstock_90384226It’s no secret that today’s parents are ambitious about keeping their kids healthy. If you have children, you’ve probably spent at least a few hours researching the safest car seats, best doctors, and healthiest school lunch options. In fact, you might have a file on your computer detailing the best (and safest) colleges – even if your child hasn’t reached her first birthday! While it’s certainly important to make healthy and safe choices for your children, there’s another variable affecting their health that you might be overlooking – your health. Children tend to follow the health patterns of their parents, so by making healthy choices, you’ll be encouraging your children to do likewise.

Healthy Food Choices

Left to their own devices, your children would have candy for breakfast, cookies for lunch, and potato chips for dinner. For this reason, most parents start limiting their children’s snack food intake early. But if you give your children carrot sticks while you indulge in a bag of cheese curls, you send a mixed message. Instead, make healthy eating a priority for your whole family, so your children will understand that “no junk food” isn’t just a rule, it’s an important part of a healthy life. Start by saving certain treats for special occasions, including birthdays, holidays, and family outings. When you do provide sugary, fatty, or high-calorie treats, limit portions. Make sure healthy snacks, such as fruit, whole wheat crackers, carrots, and celery, are readily available – in your home and in your car. When they see you snacking well, your children will be likely to follow suit.

Physical Activity

Smartphones, tablets, video game systems, computers, and televisions all pose a threat to physical activity. Instead of going outside to play, some children would rather stay inside with their handheld devices or DVDs. While a little screen time can be relaxing and educational for both parents and children, too much can lead to a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, diabetes, and other health problems. To ensure you’re showing your children the importance of being active, impose time limits on electronics – for both your children and yourself. When electronics time is up, plan a fun, energizing family activity. Play a game of soccer, volleyball, or baseball; go swimming; conduct a nature scavenger hunt on the beach or in the woods; play at a park; or dance to your favorite music.

Smoking, Drinking, and Drugs

Your children can probably tell you that they’re supposed to “just say no” to alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. But if they see you light up a cigarette or  crack open a beer after you’ve told them to “just say no,” your children won’t understand why these behaviors are okay for you but harmful for them. Ending an addiction is challenging, but it’s worth it if it means that your kids will be healthier in the long run. Talk to your doctor about cessation methods, support groups, and classes. When you decide to make a positive lifestyle choice, such as stopping smoking, share it with your children, and tell them why you’ve decided to make this change. Your change might just inspire your children to avoid the habit. If you’re taking prescription drugs or occasionally drink alcohol, be open with your children about why your behavior is healthy and how it compares to other, unhealthy behavior involving alcohol and drugs.

Set your children up for a long, healthy life by practicing healthy habits in your own life. SelectQuote believes in you! With a little perseverance, you can have a healthier family – and a healthier you!

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