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Updated July 2023
You love your tribe and want to maintain healthy family habits. Every January brings a new reminder that lofty ambitions mean little — you need to create a habit if you want it to stick.
How can you ensure the well-being of those you love the most? Here are eight healthy family habits and practices to adopt to keep everyone smiling, energetic and loving life.
1. Eating Less Processed Foods
You probably know that foods high in sugar and salt aren’t terrific for your family. What makes white flour so bad — after all, manufacturers enrich it?
However, producers only add back in a fraction of the nutrients they remove with the endosperm, which also strips white flour of filling fiber. The result is a sticky gut glue — think of paper maché paste — that provides a quick energy boost while slowing digestion. As a result, you feel hungry again soon after eating, leading to weight gain.
Furthermore, that traditional lunch meat sandwich on white bread is a double whammy for your family’s diabetes risk. A recent report showed that overindulgence in processed carbs and meats are two of the three leading causes of the disease. Nearly 100 million Americans already live with prediabetes, often without knowing it — perhaps opt for a healthy whole-grain wrap filled with roasted turkey or tuna instead?
Instead, try to get your meal-prep game on point so that you can skip the drive-thru and frozen convenience meals. Whole foods close to their natural state offer the best nutrient punch.
2. Consuming More Veggies
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), red and processed meats fall into the carcinogen category, meaning that you should feed your family fewer servings. Make up the bulk by adding more fruits and veggies to meals. These foods are rich in phytonutrients and low in calories, getting your loved ones more of what they need and less they don’t.
One healthy family habit to increase consumption is to look at your plate as a clock and fill half of it with fruits and vegetables. However, if your kids balk at eating their peas, you can get creative hiding them inside innocent-looking treats.
3. Organizing a Schedule
Of the four main causes of stress, time might be the factor you can control the most. Getting organized can help preserve your family’s mental — and, by extension, physical — health.
At the end of each school day, sit down with your child and their planner, go over each activity and adjust time estimates as necessary. Do it in conjunction with making your schedule — your kids imitate what you do more than you say, and they’re more likely to adopt the habit if they see you doing the same. Make a master family schedule that you hang on your refrigerator to remind everyone of important dates like upcoming soccer tournaments and doctor appointments.
4. Making a Budget
Your family’s economic picture does impact their health, especially in the United States. One of the healthiest family practices you can tackle to improve the whole gang’s well-being is to get on a manageable budget.
Fortunately, many banking apps make your job easier than ever by categorizing expenses for you. Identify areas where you can cut back and make reasonable compromises that don’t leave you deprived of small joys. Yes, it’s sage advice to brew coffee at home most days, but let yourself indulge if a trip to the shop is your once-a-week Friday treat.
If there simply isn’t anything extra left over at the end of the month, forcing you to operate in the red, consider ways to add extra income without leaving you with tons of extra work. Some relatively low-pressure ideas include:
- Renting out a spare room on Airbnb: Hate frequent sheet changes? You might have luck finding a long-term tenant using this platform, given the current housing crisis.
- Monetizing your hobbies: If you love to knit, what’s stopping you from selling your excess creations on Etsy?
- Help a friend: Are you a stay-at-home parent? Many caregivers make extra cash serving as small daycares for friends in homes where both parents work.
5. Getting More Active
Exercise is one of the best ways to improve your whole family’s health, and it knows no age restrictions. Newborns delight in learning to manipulate their limbs, and grandparents can extend their life and quality of it with movement.
Let your kids see you exercise and invite them to join in on the fun — after all, it’s only a chore if you make it into one. Crank up the tunes and have a dance party in your living room. Start taking after-dinner walks together and head to the park or hiking trails as a group on weekends.
6. Learning Something New
You want to nurture your family’s minds with their bodies and spirits. Playing games and doing puzzles can stave off diseases like Alzheimer’s — start encouraging fun learning activities when your kids are young.
Don’t forget the benefits of lifelong learning for older brains. With so many language-learning apps on the market, why not strengthen your bond and use your minds by mastering French or German as a family? You can have a blast out in public sharing “secret messages” in your new tongue.
7. Performing Acts of Kindness
You’ve probably heard the saying about you getting what you give. This principle pays off when you make volunteering a healthy family habit. Performing acts of kindness releases a neurotransmitter flood that lowers stress hormones and increases euphoric feelings.
If your kids beg for a puppy, but your lease says “no dogs allowed,” spend a Saturday afternoon walking pooches for a local shelter. Sign up to help out at a soup kitchen when it isn’t near the holidays — such facilities often lack volunteers during months like March.
8. Embracing Your Spirit
Your family doesn’t have to follow a religious faith to reap the health benefits of nurturing your spirit. Schools that have implemented meditation, for example, see improved behavioral outcomes and fewer tantrums.
You shouldn’t expect your 5-year-old to sit in lotus for hours like a yogi. However, it’s okay to have them practice one minute of mindfulness for each year of their age every day. Doing so imparts a valuable coping mechanism that will help them maintain their physical and mental health for life.
Start These 8 Healthy Family Habits and Practices With Your Clan
It isn’t enough to have good intentions. If you want to improve the well-being of those you love, start these eight healthy family habits and practices with your clan today.
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