Do you want to overhaul your family’s habits to create a healthier lifestyle, but aren’t sure where to start? The task as a whole may seem mammoth and destined to fail, but that generally only happens when you try to change too much at once. We’ve got 10 easy and quick things that you can easily change in one day (or one day per week, depending on the family) to encourage a healthier and happier future for your family:
1. Bring back meal time
Ah, remember the days when we all used to sit down at a table for dinner every evening? Everything else stopped and we had a chance to catch up on our day and spend some meaningful time together. Nowadays our fast-paced lives mean dinner is usually accompanied by a screen of some sort – TV, mobile or tablet – and we’re only half-present at mealtimes, scoffing down our food to get onto something else. Simply turning the TV off and banning phones/tablets for the 30 minutes around mealtime will allow you to talk, listen, eat, relax and reconnect.
2. Simple swaps
Eating healthier doesn’t require going on a diet. You can make tiny changes within your diet, such as using brown rice instead of white, which will add more nutrients and take out some of the empty calories. Look for unhealthy ingredients in your diet that you can easily substitute for something healthier and before you know it you’ll be eating a vastly better array of foods. A couple of options could be: swapping butter for avocado, using greek yoghurt instead of sour cream or mayo, or opting for sparkling water with fresh lemon/lime instead of fizzy drinks.
This might not sound relevant to a healthier lifestyle, but remember that being healthy is about your mind just as much as your body. Research shows a link between depression and clutter, so clear your home and it will probably help to clear your mind. Having a calm house will also help you to focus on the things you really need to focus on.
4. Bounce out of bed
You don’t need to wake up and do an hour-long workout. Heck, you don’t even need to do 20 minutes. Simply taking 5 minutes each morning to warm up your body and get your heart beating faster can make all the difference to your day. Choose a 5 minute exercise and commit to it every morning the minute your feet hit the floor. You’ll be surprised how much more energy you have before breakfast!
5. Add more fruit and veggies to your daily diet
Forget processed snacks. There’s nothing good about them for your health or your back pocket. If you still can’t say no to them, make a deal that you have to eat a piece of fruit before you’re allowed any processed snack. Soon you’ll find yourself craving the fruit instead! Fruit and veggie snacks don’t have to be boring either. You could make kebabs or smoothies to get a wider variety into your diet.
6. Count your blessings
It’s easy to focus on the things that aren’t going right in your life. The problem is negativity can spiral out of control and leave you feeling hopeless. Take a moment each day to think of things you’re grateful for and either write them in a journal, or on a piece of paper that you can put in a jar. It will help you to keep things in perspective and counteract any negative thoughts.
7. Make a meal plan
It might sound like a waste of time, especially when you don’t have much spare time in the first place, but trust us, a good meal plan can be a lifesaver on so many levels. Firstly, it allows you to plan out a weeks’ worth of healthy and nutritious meals – ones you know that everyone will enjoy. Secondly, it prevents you from stacking up the shopping trolley with things you don’t really need. So this is a health AND budget saver!
8. Drink more water
The health benefits of water are endless, we all know this. It’s one of the best things you can do for your body on a daily basis that takes zero effort. And costs nothing. Why not invest in some good quality, brightly coloured water bottles – this can go a long way to encourage those resistant water-drinkers in your family.
9. Say NO to pan-fried and YES to oven-baked
One of the most effective ways to lower your intake of fat is to stop frying food, and switch to baking it instead. Looking after your heart is an important lesson to learn, and one that can even prolong your life. Start with baking your meat instead of frying it, and the same with hot chips. You’l be able to find a healthy recipe out there to suit all tastes.
10. Be a positive role model
Many experts claim that the key to healthier life, is a happier life. We couldn’t agree more. So … make this year the year that you surround yourself with positive people, teach your kids how to make choices that will make them happy, and do whatever you need to do to look after your mental health. Most importantly, show your family that love and understanding count for a lot, in this unpredictable world of ours.