10 Tips for Better Child and Family Health

Any changes to your child’s diet and lifestyle are much more likely to be accepted if they involve the whole family.

Use these 10 tips to help the whole family embrace a healthier lifestyle:

1. Eat at the table together – studies show that families who have regular meals at the table with no distractions (such as television) are more likely to be a healthy weight.

family bicycle safety2. Include children in family activities – such as walking the dog, washing the car, mowing the lawn, a trip to the zoo, or a family bike ride. They won’t see it as exercise, just fun. Here are more ideas for free family activities.

3. Ban “sweetened” drinks from the home – and persuade your children to drink water instead. Fizzy drinks, fruit drinks, sports drinks, milky drinks to which sugar’s been added, and even 100% fruit juice are high in calories. Children tend to drink fewer sweet drinks when they’re not freely available in the home. Find out more about healthy drinks for children.

4. Make sure the whole family eats breakfast every day. Children who eat breakfast are less likely to overeat later in the day. If time is an issue, choose speedy yet healthy items such as peanut butter on wholemeal toast, or porridge and fruit. For inspiration, here are five healthy breakfasts.

5. Decrease screen time – and put physical activity in its place. Drag the kids away from the TV, computer and games console and instead get active as a family by walking, cycling, going to the park or playground or swimming together. Here are 10 ways to get active with your children.

6. Get active on holiday. It’s the perfect opportunity to get fit and have fun. You could try a specific activity-focused break such as cycling, hiking, pony trekking or sailing, or choose a destination where you can do a variety of activities.

On a budget? Camping holidays are affordable and most children love being outdoors. There’s lots of scope for activity for children of all ages, from putting up the tent to nature hikes. Read more about family activity holidays. Use this activity planner to get children active during school holidays at home.

7. Prepare more meals at home. It takes a little longer, but this way you can control what you put in food. You can read food labels, use healthier ingredients and control how much sugar and salt you use. Here are some tasty, quick and healthy recipes that are ideal for midweek evening meals.

8. Have healthier takeaways. You don’t have to give up takeaways completely, just make smarter choices. For instance, have mushy peas with your fish and chips and don’t eat all the batter around the fish. Order lower-fat pizza toppings like vegetables, ham and prawns instead of salami and four-cheese. And with Indian takeaways, go for tomato-based sauces such as madras instead of cream-based kormas and massalas. Read more about healthier takeaways.

9. Avoid over-sized portions. Portion sizes have increased over the years and it’s one of the reasons children become overweight. Start meals with small servings and let your child ask for more if they are still hungry. Avoid giving adult-sized plates to younger children – it can encourage them to eat too much.

10. Walk for charity. Doing regular charity walks is a great way for the whole family to get fit. Events are held across the country and are aimed at all ages, levels and abilities. Google “charity walks” to find local events.

About the Author

NHS Choices (www.nhs.uk) is the UK’s biggest health website. It provides a comprehensive health information service to help put you in control of your healthcare.


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