Today’s families are so busy being busy that it is sometimes difficult to eat healthy and make time for all family members to stay physically active. 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. Our children may be busy staying active crawling into mischief or with after school sports, but this hectic schedule leaves little time for healthy meals; they are often eating in the car, on the go. Everyone benefits from staying active and eating healthy so we’ve put together 3 Keys to help you focus on heart health and reap the biggest rewards for your family.
The 3 Keys to A Heart Healthy Family
#1: Add Heart Healthy Foods to the Menu Plan – even on the go!
1. Salmon and tuna are excellent sources of Omega 3 fatty acids that protect your heart. Tuna sandwich is a great on the go snack!
2. Oats, the steel cut or rolled kind instead of instant if you can. Oatmeal keeps their digestive system on track. Easy, make ahead breakfast – heat and go!
3. Black beans tossed in a spaghetti sauce, chili or salad are full of B-complex vitamins, niacin, folate, fiber and even some Omega 3’s!
4. Apples are natures candy! Sweet, juicy and full of vitamins and fiber, especially the skin. Easy to eat on the run.
5. Almonds are packed with healthy oils, protein, fiber and Vitamin E and make a great after school snack.
6. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, or romaine lettuce instead of ice burg bump up the nutritional value in your salad, adding folate and Vitamin E.
7. Tomatoes, even canned ones, are packed with vitamins and lycopene, which has been shown to reduce heart disease. Use them to make your own spaghetti sauce and reap the benefits.
8. Take your vitamins. Vitamin D, Omega 3′s and B Vitamins all play important roles in your families health. Learn about their benefits make them part of your families daily routine.
#2: Get Moving by Adding Daily Exercise to the Routine
Research shows that to maintain optimal everyone needs to stay active. School generally proves two 20-minute outdoor periods during the day, but often kids have choir practice, concert rehearsal or even unfinished homework that causes them to miss these crucial activity breaks. Scheduling in something physical for the kids after school is key. Active lessons, such as dance, karate, swimming or hockey, will keep them moving and keep those hearts pumping healthy and strong.
What about Mom & Dad? It can be trickier to fit in exercise for you, but it can be done. Schedule a 30 minute block of time 3-4 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, invest in good at home workout video’s. Get a friend or spouse to help motivate you. Healthy parents raise healthy kids; make sure you are taking care of you.
#3: Include a Healthy Dose of Lifestyle Education
What is that Chinese proverb again? “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 so 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 pass these lessons along to your children.
It works for staying active too. My kids watch me snap on my bike helmet, tie up my running shoes and they know how many times a week Mom and Dad go to the gym. More importantly, they know why. We educate them on the benefits of regular exercise and lead by example, so for them, a healthy heart is just part of growing up.