Today’s families are busy, so it is often difficult to eat healthy and make time for all family members to stay physically active – two keys for a healthy heart family! Parents are consumed with naps, diapers & feeding schedules or drop offs and pick ups and waiting in arena’s, at dance studios and swimming pools, that we don’t have time to get active ourselves. Older kids are busy being shuffled to after school sports and this hectic schedule leaves little time for parents to plan, or kids to eat, healthy meals.
Families that do manage to stay healthy amidst the chaos share three essential habits.
3 Habits of A Heart Healthy Family
Heart Healthy Menu
Even on the go, heart healthy families include important proteins and nutrient rich foods in daily meals to keep everyone going.
Include fish at least one to two times a week. Salmon, halibut and tuna are excellent sources of Omega 3 fatty acids that protect your heart. Prepare quick healthy meals even if you have to eat in the mini van! Quick meals that include fish are tuna melts or a fast tuna helper made whole grain noodles, peas, can of broccoli soup and 2 cans of tuna.
Mornings are always a super busy time, that is why overnight steel cut oats or homemade instant oatmeal packets are perfect. The fibre in oatmeal fills you up for a full day ahead and keeps your digestive system on track. Add some yogurt and berries and you are good to go.
Apples are natures candy, actually all fruit is. Pack some to go and include cubed cheese and almonds for a complete heart healthy snack that is easy to eat on the run. Leave the packaged and processed snacks at the store and opt for your own mix of dried fruits, seeds, low sugar whole grain cereals, and granola.
Heart Healthy Exercise
Research shows that to maintain optimal health kids and adults need to stay active. Scheduling in something physical for the kids after school is key, and for yourself also. Active lessons, such as dance, karate, swimming or hockey, will keep them moving and keep those hearts pumping healthy and strong. But what about Mom and Dad?
It can be trickier for busy parents to fit in exercise, but it can be done. Schedule a 30 minute block of time 2-4 times a week for you. During lunch break at work, during babies nap time, before kids get up in the morning or in the evening when the after dinner rush is over. Go for a brisk walk, learn to jog, take up yoga, swimming, climb stairs, or invest in good at home workout video. Get a friend or spouse to help motivate you.
Healthy parents raise healthy kids; make sure you are taking care of you.
Heart Healthy Homework
Do your homework. The more you know the better educated you will be to help your family lead a heart healthy lifestyle.
You have heard the Chinese proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” It applies here. Insist your kids eat broccoli and they will reap the nutrient rewards today, teach them why it is so important to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables everyday and their health will benefit as they get older and make their own food choices.
Learn the benefits of healthy foods and exercise yourself and then pass these lessons along to your children. Educate your kids on the benefits of regular exercise and then lead by example. For your kids a healthy heart will just be a part of growing up.