5 Healthy Habits to Pick up Right Now

Getting your family to adopt a healthier lifestyle is hard – and setting big goals makes it nearly impossible. Instead, work on making small changes that stick. Here are some easy ways to make healthy living part of your family’s routine:

1. Get colorful

Who’s got time to calculate the calories, carbs and bad fats you bring home from the supermarket every week. Instead of focusing on numbers, pay attention to the colors in your cart. How much natural green do you see? How about red, orange and yellow? If the answer is “not much,” go back to the produce aisle and grab a head of broccoli, a few red peppers and an avocado or two. Toss in some oranges, bananas and berries. Then return to the cookie or pasta aisle and put one of your boxes back on the shelf.

2. Shut it down

Overstimulation from watching TV, answering email or chatting on Facebook right before bed is a huge sleep killer. The result: chronic yawning. Give your family the rest it needs with a rule that everyone must log out and shut off at least half an hour before bedtime – even on weekends. Encourage the kids to spend that time in bed, relaxing with a book. But nothing too exciting, or they won’t put that down either!

3. Ditch the car

How many times a week do you drive less than a mile? Is it because you don’t have the time to walk, or that you don’t ever think of it? The next time you grab the keys to drive six blocks to your child’s playdate or pick her up from school, check your watch. If you can spare 10 minutes, walk. You’ll both get some exercise, plus extra time together. As an added bonus, you’ll go green and save on gas!

4. Schedule downtime

With our overscheduled lives, downtime doesn’t come naturally anymore. Build in half an hour a day of quiet family time – either after dinner or before bedtime – and make it mandatory. Take dessert into the family room and listen to music, play a board game, or just sit and talk. Watching a favorite TV show works too, as long as you’re all together.

5. Wash, wash, wash

The No. 1 way to keep your family healthy, particularly during cold and flu season, is to wash hands – even when you’re not sick. Make sure soap is readily available in every bathroom at home, as well as the kitchen. Remind your kids as often as possible to wash up before meals, after using the bathroom or blowing their nose, and when they come in from outside. Eventually, your nagging will make regular washing a habit, not a chore.

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About the Author

Gail Belsky is an editorial consultant and writer, and an adjunct professor of journalism. A 12-year veteran of women’s publications, she was a senior editor at Parents magazine and an executive editor at both Working Mother magazine and Time Inc.’s custom publishing division, where she created and edited two women’s service magazines for Target stores. Belsky worked on the launch of Time Inc.’s All You magazine and was an editorial consultant at Meredith Corp., where she created four custom publications for American Baby magazine. Most recently, she wrote a book for women, entitled The List: 100 Ways to Shake Up Your Life (Seal Press 2008).


One Response to “5 Healthy Habits to Pick up Right Now”

  1. Wash, wash, wash I do because of my compromised immune system but in this heat walking isn’t an option. Thank goodness for water shoes or the bottom of our feet would melt! The pool just opened and it’s already bathwater!

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