Wednesday, January 4

16 Habits for Healthy Families

by Katherine Matutes, PhD

As a health and wellness professional, I am inundated daily with the latest research findings on how to keep your family healthy. As a mom, I sympathize with parents trying to wade through this advice and discern the most important issues to focus on. Below, I share the topics I make a priority for my family. Keep in mind that the Center for Disease Control lists cardiovascular disease and cancer as the leading causes of death in the US and this statistic shapes our health goals.

1. We eat a diet low in saturated fat by choosing lean sources of animal products and eating more fruits and veggies. (This is great for heart health and decreasing cancer risks. It also helps establish habits your kids will want to follow for the rest of their lives.)

2. Our kids get 60 minutes of physical activity everyday. (This means limiting computer and TV time. And as obesity rates continue to soar, it's becoming more important that our entire family follows this rule.)

3. We consume no foods with cancer promoting sodium nitrates. (Look for nitrate free lunch meats. Coleman’s is one such brand.)

4. Our meals are cooked with heart healthy extra virgin olive oil, canola oil or Smart Balance spread.

5. We all eat breakfast everyday. (Kids perform better in school and everyone’s metabolism is kept more consistent, and thus less likely to acquire extra weight.)

6. Our kids get 11 hours of sleep (they’re 7 and 10 years old), and my husband and I desperately try to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. (This improves mood, patience, concentration, learning ability and decreases preponderance for weight gain.)

7. A wide variety of fruits and veggies gets incorporated into our diets every day. (This provides ample disease fighting phytonutrients, fiber and promotes food exploration.)

8. We eat omega-3 rich fishes twice per week. (We do this and take fish oil supplements daily for heart health. It also helps decrease inflammation.)

9. We eat dinner together at the table. (This is an opportunity for kids to be open about the events of their day and is a chance for us to casually model the type of eating behaviors you want your children to adopt. They may not eat the broccoli today or even tomorrow, but if they see you eating it they will eventually try it.)

10. We take Supplements to ensure adequate calcium and Vitamin D levels daily for bone health and a myriad of other health benefits.

11. The kids ALWAYS ride buckled in booster seats in the car. Motor vehicle injury is the leading cause of death for children. (Check-out the CDC website for height and weight guidelines

12. We have sweets or other “junk food” on occasion (And not just at parties and special events. This way they don’t become alluring, forbidden treats.)

13. Our kids drink only water, skim milk or one (3 oz.) serving of 100% juice per day. My husband and I drink water, coffee, tea and no more than 1-2 servings of alcohol per day. (1 serving is 1 ounce of liquor, 6 ounces of wine or 8 ounces of beer.)

14. Everyone is allowed some unstructured downtime each day. (We all need time to decompress, but especially the kids. They need time to use their imaginations and express their creativity and free will. Studies show kids allotted more free time become better problem solvers.)

15. Kisses and hugs are dispensed often! (Affection and bonding reduce blood pressure and produce “feel good” neurotransmitters that promote a sense of well-being. Children of affectionate families are generally better students and cope well with stress. And let's face it, hugs feel great!)

16. We eat a minimal amount of prepackaged and processed foods. The more fresh, whole ingredients the better! They are higher in nutrients, lower in calories and we avoid potentially harmful additives.

More About Katherine Matutes, PhD 

1 comment:

  1. Great tips, Katherine! Fish... pretty to look at in a pond, but I can't stand to eat it! Is taking ONLY fish oil an acceptable substitute for the real thing? Better the fish oil than nothing at all, right? Any advice on how I can get real fish into my diet? Perhaps a type of fish that tastes like chicken? :)