Like countless other dads, you’re probably aware of a few habits and lifestyle choices you maintain which aren’t all that healthy. If this is the case, then it’s also pretty likely that you don’t run a very tight ship when it comes to making sure everyone in your home is as healthy as possible. While it’s not always that easy, making sure everyone in your household stays happy and healthy is an important duty of fatherhood which you need to step up to. With the new year quickly approaching, here’s my guide to keeping your whole family as healthy as possible.
Stop Starving Yourself
This may sound a little backwards to people who are trying to lose weight. However, if you want to achieve a healthy weight, you can’t go hungry like some people are. When you’re not filling yourself up regularly enough, all you’ll do is cause your hunger hormone, ghrelin, to rise in irregular, sporadic spikes. The big issue here is that it takes roughly half an hour for this hormone to recede back to a normal level once you’ve started to eat. It may not sound like much, but half an hour is more than enough time for most people to consume far more calories than they would have if they filled themselves up at their last meal. When you’re eating breakfast, lunch or dinner, make sure you’re giving yourself large enough portions, and leave the table feeling totally satisfied. You should also be making a point to keep healthy snacks, like nuts and dried fruits around, and using these to see you through until your next meal.
Schedule Your Breakfast and Lunch
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If you don’t have a healthy go-to option for both breakfast and lunch, you’ll be much more likely to grab something unhealthy, acting on a spur-of-the-moment craving. Aside from that, when you have some healthy go-to meals for each day, keeping your weekly grocery shop healthy will become so much easier. Try out different things, find some breakfasts and lunches that you like, and then stick to them. By getting out of your habit of re-inventing the wheel at every mealtime, you’ll find sticking to a healthy diet so much easier. As an example, you could start your day off with some oatmeal or muesli with flaxseed oil, and add some flavour with raisins or nuts. For lunch, I recommend a vegetable-based soup, or a sandwich with healthy cold cuts like turkey or tuna. For the kids, try weaning them off sugar in their packed lunches. They won’t go quietly, but just keep reminding yourself why you’re doing it! You can find some healthy lunch ideas at http://greatist.com/ .
Get Everyone the Attention They Need
Obviously, if anyone in your family gets sick or develops any kind of health problem, you’re going to know about it fairly soon. As great as modern medicine is, however, there are certain things which it’s better to be aware of before they get bad enough to notice. Countless families put off regular health check-ups. I know it can be a hassle to make appointments and take the time out of your schedule, but seeing a medical professional once or twice a year can be a great way to nip health problems in the bud before they get any worse. If you know that it’s been far too long since someone in your family had a check-up with their doctor, be sure to change that as soon as possible. It’s also a good idea to check out a medical or family health blog every now and then, and read up on any major concerns for the age groups in your family. Certain conditions, like meningitis, are a big risk for young people, but can be prevented with a simple vaccination. Regular dental check-ups are also very important for nipping oral conditions in the bud. If you haven’t seen your dentist for a decade, you can find one in your area using directories like http://dentists.nhere.me .
Exercise 20 Minutes A Day
You may have read in some health guides that you should be getting an hour of rigorous exercise every day. If you’ve ever attempted to actually fit this in, then you probably also found that it isn’t exactly practical! While an hour will really mess up the flow of your day-to-day life, 20 minutes is nothing. By keeping your daily exercise quota small, convenient and manageable, you’ll find it so much easier to assure that you get some exercise in, rather than getting swallowed up in the chaos of the day and not having any exercise at all. You don’t need to rush out to the gym in the middle of every day for an hour. Instead, get some dumbbells and do some simple exercises at home, or take a brief walk around the block. Another side to keeping to this 20-minute quota is that many people find they enjoy their little exercise sessions, and push them even further. Aim for 20 minutes, and soon you’ll find it so much easier to push yourself more and more!
Don’t Let Unhealthy Foods into Your Home
Obviously, if you’ve been running a fairly lax regime so far, it can be a little tough to keep fats and sugars out of your home. It won’t be what your kids are used to, and you may have a small mutiny to deal with! Though it may be hard to see your kids freak out over not being able to have their favorite treat, it’s very important to be the decision maker in your home when it comes to grocery shopping. If you bring sweets, soft drinks and cookies into your home, your kids are going to notice, and will invariably want them. If you try to restrict them, you may find it easier to get them to do their chores, but you’ll also serve to make these unhealthy foods seem more exclusive and desirable. However, if you don’t buy these treats to begin with, your kids will miss them to start, but as they get used to the idea they’ll begin to forget that they even ate so much sugar in the first place! If your kids were used to opening the cupboards and reaching for a bag of chips, then sub out the unhealthy snacks for things like dried fruit, nuts and so on. Your kids will almost certainly be hostile to the change at first, but they’ll eat the healthy snacks once they get hungry enough!
Make Family Meals a Priority
I could write about the importance of good nutrition all day, and you’re probably hearing enough about it from various other sources. However, if you want to pass this important message onto your kids in the most effective way possible, there’s nothing better than sitting down with them every night for a regular mealtime. Studies have shown that regular family dinners will not only give your kids better eating habits, but can also improve their grades, and make it feel easier for them to open up to you. When the whole family comes together to eat and talk, they become stronger as a unit, breathe life into a potent emotional harmony, and generally improve everyone’s long-term health.
Make Room for Play Time
Just like fitting in that 20 minutes of daily exercise, finding some room for active play time with your kids is a great way to make sure they stay happy and healthy. For starters, this will give you one more opportunity to burn off those calories. Another great thing about making room for active play time is that it will naturally make your kids more open to the idea of exercise and having fun through physical activity. As I’m sure you’ve discovered, a healthy amount of exercise becomes more and more of a chore as you grow older. If your kids aren’t all that into sports, and a lot of them aren’t these days, then get a variety of cheap equipment so that you can keep active play time fun and varied. By having a few soccer penalty shots after dinner, shooting some hoops, or anything else that gets you moving, you’ll be making sure everyone gets a healthy amount of exercise, and creating another opportunity for bonding with your kids. You can find a handy feature for this on http://www.webmd.com/ .
Have a Bedtime Routine
You may feel that you’re a little old to have a bedtime which you stick to like clockwork. However, keeping to a regular sleeping pattern will ensure that you look younger and more energetic for longer. Far too many adults in the country are getting unhealthy amounts of sleep. Furthermore, if you’re not getting at least seven hours a night, you could be seriously upping your chances of having a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular problems. Keep your bedroom dark and cool, try to stop using screens at least an hour before you go to sleep, and take in less caffeine through the day. This may feel strange at first, but you’ll feel so much better when you notice the effects!