How to Create a Healthy Family Lifestyle

This spring is a great time to turn around your lifestyle and to press the "reset" button to eliminate bad habits. Instead of focusing on the same goal to "lose weight," only to end up discouraged, why not shift the focus to make your family more active and healthy?

The best way to reinforce new goals is to have a reliable support system. As a parent, the approach can make or break good intentions. Encourage the idea of being healthy rather than being thin, and participate in the challenge with your kids.

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To ease the transition into the new adjustments, create mini goals each week, such as limiting television time to one hour a day.

Reward accomplishments with active pastimes and take your kids to their favorite park for a picnic or the zoo. Enthusiasm is key, as children often mirror their parents' behavior.

Increasing Physical Activity

Kids enjoy being physically active with fun games and activities, like tag or playing jump rope.

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An hour of physical activity daily is recommended, however, you can easily break up the time throughout the day. Try going for family walks after dinner or a bike ride instead of sitting down to watch the television.

Want to expand the imagination a bit? Have your child make up stories and act them out, or start an art project with them. Promote physical activity as a substitute for inactive habits. This can build a child's confidence and can open up their desire to be creative. While you can suggest sports for your child to partake in, it's ultimately their decision to pick what they are comfortable doing.

Nutritional Tips

The biggest challenge with children is how to incorporate the daily recommended amount of 5 to 8 servings of fruits and vegetables into dishes they'd like. Again, changing your approach to healthy foods can change your child's perspective.

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Take them grocery shopping and have them choose the produce. Some yummy snacks can include whole grain graham crackers with peanut butter, fresh fruit or pistachio nuts. Substitute coconut water flavored with real fruit juice for soda to cut back your child's sugar intake.

Something to keep in mind: try not to use treats to reward behaviors (such as finishing their plate of veggies) as this places more value on the treat rather than eating the food for nourishment.

With a positive perception and the right mindset, the health challenge encourages a well-rounded development for your child. Modifying behaviors early on will help cement habits that will carry over into adulthood.

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Scottsdale Children's Obesity Examiner Eneida Shqalsi is an aspiring freshmen who is studying kinesiology and nutrition at Arizona State University.

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