With jobs, school, after-school activities, and more, it can be hard to stay healthy as a family, let alone get together once a day for dinner. Eating and living healthfully can be challenging when you have kids. However, developing healthy habits early on is important for preventing disease later in life and making sure the whole family feels their best.
The good news? There are small ways you can improve your family’s health over time. You can start where you are and build up from there. If you aren’t sure where to begin, here are six common habits of healthy families to follow.
1. Find Easy (Yet Healthy) Go-to Meals and Snacks
You don’t need to create unique, elaborate meals each day to be healthy and balanced. Find a few quick and healthy breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that everyone enjoys. Those might be:
- Oatmeal with peanut butter or flax seeds and fruit
- Tuna or turkey sandwiches with veggies and whole-grain bread
- Vegetable soups or stews
- Make-your-own tacos or burritos
- Healthy casseroles
See more healthy recipes for kids and families here.
You can rotate them on a regular basis and have favorites often. This will reduce decision fatigue for each meal and snack. Plus, it will make grocery shopping simpler.
2. Get Everyone Involved in Meal Prep
Ask the kids to help out with dinner tonight or prepping their lunches for the next day. Give everyone a role so they can see what goes into the meals—and that preparing them can be fun! Not only will it bring everyone together, it helps teach kids about making healthy meals early in life.
3. Make Exercise Fun and Accessible
Healthy families prioritize exercise because they understand how important it is. That being said, exercise doesn’t have to be a huge daily ordeal. Spending just 20 minutes being active can make a huge difference.
Try going for walks as a family in the evening, playing sports together, or following a group workout video. If the kids enjoy being active, perhaps encourage them to try out for school sports teams they are interested in. If you need more ideas, check out these family fitness tips.
4. Not Going Hungry
When you’re busy, you can sometimes forget to eat regularly. Then, when you do slow down and notice your hunger, you’re tempted to grab (and overeat) the most convenient thing nearby. And usually, that’s fast food or something packaged.
Instead, prioritize quick and regular healthy meals and snacks. Snacking can be particularly helpful for growing kids who need more fuel. Give them plenty of access to healthy options that will give them a steady source of energy each day.
5. Communicate Regularly (Preferably Over Dinner)
Having a healthy family is about emotional health as much as the physical. Encourage time together in the evenings and on weekends as much as possible. If you can, eat dinner together a few nights a week so you can catch up on each other’s days. This could also be playing a game together, reading together, or something else that creates a sacred family time.
6. Make Healthy Habits Routine
It’s easier to create healthy habits when they are set on the calendar. Plus, families can thrive on routines. Schedule a night for the kids to make dinner or for the family to go on a bike ride. Many healthy families are successful because they have built up the same routine each week and month. There’s less to think about and plan because it’s woven into their daily lives.
The Bottom Line
Healthy habits can take time to develop—especially when there are many people involved. Start small and look for little ways to make changes together. Also, be kind to yourselves. Life is busy when you’re a family. Things may never look perfect, but creating semi-routine healthy habits can help everyone improve their health, feel great day-in and day-out, and develop practices they can take with them for many, many years.