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How our health habits affect our kids and how to get them involved

As moms, we always worry about the health of our children. Are they eating right? Are they exercising? Are they forming healthy habits around food and fitness? Our frequent worry about the health of our children can sometimes cause us to put our own health habits on the back burner; however, when we do this, we forget the effect our healthy habits have on our children. They are around us all the time from an early age and watch everything we do. They see what we eat and drink and they see us when we exercise and they hear us when we say we don’t want to workout today or cook something healthy. My job as a health coach has me working with moms all the time and a frequent question they ask me is “Why does living healthy feel so complicated and overwhelming?” These moms want to establish healthy lifestyles for their children but it is tough because they never grew up with those habits themselves. Bad habits often run in the family and oftentimes those bad habits are instilled in you before you even know that they are bad. Breaking those habits is hard, but once you instill healthy habits in yourself you will often find that your kids will see your healthy lifestyle and want to do healthy things just like mom. Here are a few ways our health habits affect our children and a few tips to help make living healthy fun for kids.


Kids eat what we eat

The foods we eat have some of the biggest daily impacts on our children. A young child eats what their parents make for them and if we feed them healthy foods they will grow to love healthy foods. If we feed them sugary sweets they will grow to love that. Parents who cook healthy meals for their children and eat those healthy meals themselves will have children who establish healthy eating habits. Cook healthy, fresh food. Not premade meals and no ordering fast food. Is it always easy? No. Is it always worth it?100%

The best way to instill these eating habits in your kids is to make them a part of the cooking process and explain to them what they are eating. My kids watch me cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner and my younger ones love to help me in the kitchen. When we are cooking something new we go over the ingredients and talk about why that ingredient is good for us. For example, when I make pasta I substitute protein pasta for regular pasta and I tell my kids why we use the protein pasta and why protein is so
important for our bodies. Cook with your kids and make every meal a learning experience. If you eat healthily, your healthy eating will reflect on your kids.


Exercise a confidence builder

CrossFit has been a passion of mine for a while now and I regularly participate in competitions that my children love to attend so they can watch me compete. The way we approach exercise has a profound impact on our children both physically and mentally. When my kids see mom working out they want to work out with me. My youngest frequently mimics my routines using toy dumbbells. It is a fun way to jump and move with mom. My daughter said that watching me compete in competitions gives her

confidence to do hard things and see them through. She told me recently that when she wants to give up on a task, she remembers that she CAN do hard things, because she regularly watches me do hard things. She even participates in running challenges with me from time to time and we love earning those medals together. She doesn’t realize she is creating healthy habits for herself, she just thinks we are having fun! Exercise creates accomplishment, accomplishment fosters confidence, and confidencemakes kids feel good about themselves and their abilities. Kids naturally want to move and play so if they see mom or dad exercising they are naturally going to gravitate to you and mimic your exercise habits. They will also see it as a normal lifestyle when they are adults and continue the habits.

It is also important to share your exercise motivations with your children. I tell my kids I exercise so hard because when I am fit I can hold them longer, pick them up, and play with them. I never talk about what I need to “lose” (weight, fat); I only talk about what I gain (strength, confidence, longevity, better quality of life…) Exercise molds a body that can create more memories with your children. They are going to remember that tough hike or long game of tag for a long time and you want to let your kids know you can
keep up and play with them for the long haul.

Creating a home that promotes activity doesn’t require a commitment to an intense workout routine, just have the family spend some time outside. Take a walk around the neighborhood, run around with the kids, or go swimming when the weather gets warm. Spend some time outside daily and you will find the kids will get bored of the television really quickly.


The swap system

If you weren’t already an active person or are not used to cooking healthier meals, the task can feel pretty overwhelming. Bad habits are hard to break, and they don’t go away overnight. Take baby steps with your family, and if you keep at it these habits will go away over time. I try not to look at creating healthy habits as giving something up, but rather swapping something out. Instead of giving up family T.V. time you are swapping it out for family walk time. (so much better memories are made this way too!) You aren’t giving up pasta but instead swapping out ground sausage for ground turkey or prepackaged, bottled alfredo sauce for a homemade, healthier version. If the kids are apprehensive about the ingredient change, cook the meal with them and have them taste it with you. Afterwards talk about the health swap with your kids. This simple change in perspective doesn’t seem like a lot, but mentally we are hardwired to not want to give up the things we like and the idea of swapping something out instead of getting rid of it created a more positive approach to breaking hard habits.

The effects of the way we eat and exercise are not just relevant to us. These habits run down stream to our kids and establishing a healthy lifestyle means your kids will develop a healthy lifestyle they can take to adulthood and pass down to their kids.


Written by: Brittany Conley is a health coach and Owner of Better with Brit. Brittany specializes in helping women start their health journey and live their best lives.

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