It may be slightly past resolution season, but we’d like to suggest some health commitments for 2013… and not just the typical “eat better, exercise more.”
Your kids will benefit from the playtime together, and you will benefit by reducing stress and bonding with your children. Putting aside chores, technology and to-do lists will make your kids feel more connected with you as you engage in their creativity and imaginations. Here are some more positive parenting tips from the Centers for Disease Control.
There are many natural sugars, added sugars and sugar substitutes in our foods today. Resolve to cut down on these unhealthy additives by making even small choices. Drink less juice, or dilute it with water, sparkling or tap – they’re both good! Have fewer sugary beverages weekly. Choose fresh fruit for dessert (or adopt any of these other ideas) to feel better, have more energy, and reduce your risk for tooth decay, weight gain, and chronic disease.
Water is the purest and best choice for a drink. Water is essential for all your body’s processes. If you need to amp up your water, add a slice of lemon or lime! Try to drink even just one more glass of water a day to improve your health.
- Check email less
Technology can contribute to inactivity. Spend more time playing with your kids, running up and down your stairs, drinking water, or getting your to-do list done. Even just swapping out cell phone time for a relaxing bath or TV night for a good book will do wonders for your mental and emotional health. Focus more on face-to-face interactions, strengthen friendships, and reduce your daily stressors.
On the Centers for Disease Control website, there is a fruit and vegetable calculator based on sex, age, and activity level. For a 38-year-old female who gets 30-60 minutes of exercise per day, they recommend 2 cups of fruits and 2.5 cups of vegetables daily! Resolve to fill half your plate at each meal with fruits and vegetables.
- Add weights to your exercise routine
Adding weights to your routine will increase your muscle mass, thereby increasing your metabolism. It will also add variety to your routine, which can decrease boredom and lessen your chances of “burning out”.
- Get more sleep and/or create a bedtime routine for your kids
Nearly 1 in 3 adults doesn’t get adequate sleep. Resolve to improve your own sleep routine and “sleep hygiene”. Kids also benefit from a bedtime routine and getting the recommended amount of sleep each night. Sleep leads to better academic and social performance. Optimize your and your kids’ performance during the waking hours by getting adequate sleep at night.
- Watch less television
Television is mindless entertainment, meaning that it doesn’t take any critical or creative thought to watch television. Further, people tend to eat more snacks and bigger portions while watching TV, and at the same time participate in less physical activity. Kids should have less than 2 hours of screen time (that includes computer time, cell phone games, and videogames) per day. It’s often up to you to set the example for your kids. You will be amazed at all the other activities available!
- Eat out less and plan more meals at home
If you plan ahead, you can eat healthier meals at home than the last minute take-out meals that might happen after a long day of work. Pick a day during the week to plan a week of meals. You’ll know what to shop for, and how much you’ll need to prepare in advance. Save money on take-out, restaurant food, or multiple trips to the grocery store weekly and eat healthier and more regularly. For tips, see the Mayo Clinic on portion sizes and healthy meal planning.
Written by Darby S. Petitt, Ph.D.