One of the biggest misconceptions people have today is what constitutes a healthy lifestyle. Just because you exercise does not mean you are healthy. I hear much too often, oh, I can eat this because then I will work 30 or 40 minutes on the treadmill, jogging, walking, (fill in the blank with the exercise of choice). Once in awhile transgressions are one thing, however, if you want to be healthy you need to eat healthy and exercise, the two go hand in hand.
Now, think about this, if you think this way as an adult, what are you teaching your children. Yep, that is it OK to eat junk food as long as you are active. Not only that, so many parents, say well my kids eat all this stuff but don’t gain any weight, so it is OK. NO, IT IS NOT! While on the surface, you think it is, it is doing major damage to both yours and your child’s body. Think about high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
Remember folks the old adage ‘you are what you eat’ applies here. We all carry over what we learn in our childhood into our lives as adults. You are setting the foundation here for a lifetime of bad eating for your child. Do you really want to do that? No, I don’t think so. So you need to set an example and start eating healthier and continue to be active. Right now the majority of children that are active are doing so through after school or organized sports activities that interest them. However, what happens when they get older, when these activities are no longer a part of his/her life. You got it, sedentary behavior because you didn’t provide the role model they needed for a healthy lifestyle. You need to provide them with other choices besides just sporting activities: walking, jogging, riding, jumping rope, aerobics to name a few.
It is one of your responsibilities as a parent to teach your children about healthy eating and the importance of activity not only as a child but as they grow into adulthood. So you need to be a good role model. We have discussed in other articles, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and walking from the far end of the parking lot. Joining a gym or having exercise equipment (bikes, trampolines, DVDs) in your home. One of the cutest things is for a young child to watch their mom or dad watching a video or working out on a piece of exercise equipment and trying to emulate them. What a perfect opportunity for you to show them how to dance, jog, jump rope so they can do something right along with you.
Next, be sure you let them be active in the planning and preparation of meals. Let them give their input. Take the time to talk to them about the foods you are making and they are eating. And please don’t tell me you don’t have the time, make the time or in all honesty why did you have children!
Yes, we want our children to be active and involved. However, one big caveat here is to limit the number of activities your children get involved with. Too many children today join everything to please their parents and they are exhausted! So be realistic with their time just as you would be with yours. Be sure to emphasize to your child that they don’t have to be involved in everything. The emphasis that if they do too much they are going to make compromises in one or more activities and that isn’t fair to that particular group. Talk to them about downtime. Be sure they know it is OK to relax. We need balance in our lives and the only way to be sure we do is to do everything in moderation and get that downtime for ourselves. Relaxing restores our balance which is so very important for healthy living.
So let’s start today to show our children that Healthy Eating + Activity = Healthy Lifestyle!