Written by Tabitha Acret
Long-term successful health outcomes always start with prevention. For families this means establishing healthy habits early so that your children learn, from the get go, what it means to look after themselves. Children look to their parents for direction and guidance so by setting a good example early, the idea of wellness becomes ingrained in their day-to-day life.
Here are 10 tips for kick-starting your family’s wellness journey:
- Keep it positive: It is important to bring a positive approach to healthy habits, not make them a punishment or a negative experience. Talk about the benefits of why you’re doing what you’re doing. For example, “we will grow big and strong when we eat foods that are good for our bodies”. Celebrate success with reward charts, affirmations and fun activities.
- Make meals colourful: A variety of colours in vegetables and fruits is good for your child and exposes them to different tastes, textures, and nutritional value, as well as making the meal feel a little more fun. We all know children can be fussy little eaters!
- Read food labels: The terms organic and no added sugar can sometimes be deceiving. It’s important to read the nutritional labels and look at total sugar per 100g to assess whether the product really is a healthy alternative. Recently, my 6-year-old son wanted to swap the yoghurt brand we had to one with a cartoon character on the front, however doing so raised the sugar intake from 6g per 100g serve to a whopping 25g. With a quarter of the yogurt now made up of sugar, buying this brand meant it would only be a Friday treat – a sometimes food. Thankfully we both agreed to stick with the original brand. Teaching kids about what is in food and what constitutes a ‘treat’ means we are helping them to make good decisions for themselves.
- Drink lots of water: Water is so important and should be the main drink for everyone in any household or school playground. If we consistently fuel kids with water this is the beverage they grow to expect, the same principle applies if you were to offer soft drink all the time. Soft drink and juices are full of sugar and do not contain any nutritional value.
- Cook with your kids: Allow your kids to be a part of the food preparation process, this way they are given the opportunity to learn about ingredients, volumes, and how to follow instructions. They are also more likely to be adventurous with their eating if they have been part of the process.
- Eat together: Research shows that families who regularly sit down and enjoy a meal together have higher self-esteem and interestingly enough, consume more fruits and vegetables as a result!
- Stop using a bottle at the age of 1: If your baby is formula fed then when you are weaning the formula at the 12 month mark, you should do the same with the bottle. When you introduce water, do so via a sippy cup or a regular plastic cup. The longer your child drinks from the bottle when no longer necessary, it can increase the incidence of tooth decay. It also doesn’t allow for proper function of the tongue and muscles of the mouth which can slow the development of their jaw.
- Brush their teeth: Parents should be doing this as soon as children’s teeth erupt. Use an age appropriate brush and with warm water brush their teeth twice a day until they are capable of doing so themselves. Tooth decay can happen at any age, and what many people don’t know is that oral health problems can be the cause of several other complications in the body.
- Regular dental visits: Bring your kids along to appointments when they are little, to ensure they are familiar with the sounds and smells involved; all of which will feel very new and a little frightening. Start by getting them in the chair and having the dentist count their teeth, creates a really positive experience. Appointments can progress as they grow, however the AIRFLOW© Dental Spa is a gentle and non-invasive process perfect for kids who need a good clean of their teeth and gums. Using only high pressure warm water and sweet tasting powder, it is a great way to professionally prevent any dental related disease. Get the dentist to tickle your child’s tongue with the high pressure warm water and see them giggle.
- Be active: Make time to go on family walks, visit the park, make sport a priority for your kids and express just how healthy these habits are.