All in the Family
Hectic pace of life wearing you and your loved ones down? Try these 7 stay- healthy tips for busy families
Is a busy schedule sabotaging your health? Try these seven simple stay- healthy tips for busy families.
1 Cut back on sugar. Seriously, it’s the fastest, easiest way for a busy family to improve overall health. If you can’t completely eliminate it, cut way back. Drink less juice: one small glass has about 25 grams of sugar ( as much as a soda). Instead, serve chilled hibiscus, apple, or blueberry tea with breakfast. And beware of hidden sugars in products such as peanut butter, nondairy milk, ketchup, and others; look for unsweetened versions. If you do buy packaged snacks, look at the sugar content, and stick to those with 10 grams or less per serving. And serve a small portion of a low- sugar dessert ( berries with whipped cream, pears and dark chocolate, reduced- sugar ice cream) with meals. It neutralizes the idea that dessert is a reward, and makes the sweet stuff less of a Holy Grail.
2 Cook slowly. Slow cookers are the fastest way to make a home- cooked meal. While your coff ee’s brewing in the morning, fi ll your Crock- Pot with meat, beans, or chicken; add broth, sauce, or water, and a handful of spices; turn it on low. When you come home, stir in frozen vegetables, and you’ll have a ready- to- eat meal by the time you set the table. Familyfriendly suggestions: pulled chicken, barbecue brisket, turkey chili, pot roast, short ribs, tacos, black bean soup, and white beans with kale. Make more than you need, and freeze leftovers.
3 Turn TV time into fi tness hour. Get your little potatoes off the couch, and let them watch the tube only if they’re moving too. Do crunches, squats, or jumping jacks during commercials. Stretch or jog in place while channel surfi ng. Keep hand weights in a basket by the sofa, and bust out some curls or overhead presses during your favorite show. Do tricep dips or incline pushups, using the couch as a prop. Make it a contest: whoever does the most burpees gets control of the remote.
4 Microwave. When slow cooking won’t work, embrace your microwave. Skip the high- fat, high- sodium prepackaged meals, and look for instant or frozen foods with less than 450 mg of sodium, 300– 500 calories, 10– 20 grams of protein, and less than 4 grams of saturated fat. Or make your own ultra- fast, zappable meals: Microwave chopped vegetables with scrambled eggs and cheese for an instant omelet. Combine blueberries, mashed banana, oats, ground fl ax, and an egg, and microwave for breakfast. Microwave preseasoned chicken fajitas and peppers until done, and serve with tortillas for instant dinner. Combine frozen vegetable mix with canned chickpeas, coconut milk, and curry paste, and microwave until hot for vegetarian curry.
Make breakfast easy. It’s the most skipped meal, and that has health consequences, especially for young ones: kids who skip breakfast have diminished academic performance, a greater risk of being overweight, and a lower fi tness level. Stock up on quick morning meals- to- go: make smoothies the night before and freeze in bags. Keep a bowl of boiled eggs, small containers of fruit, and individual packets of almond butter ready for grab- and- go morning meals. kids and teens a well- designed multivitamin and mineral to fi ll in any nutritional gaps.
Visit betternutrition. com for our Easy Blended Baked Oatmeal recipe ( it can be made the night before).
Water your fl owers. Be sure that your family drinks enough water; dehydration can lead to headaches, muscle cramps, even changes in mood. Encourage hydration by keeping water around; buy everyone his or her own reusable water bottle and post reminder notes on the front door to take water bottles before leaving the house. Other easy ways to ensure that you and your family are getting enough water:
Stock up on cans or bottles of sugar- free, fruit- fl avored fi zzy water to encourage sipping. Fill a pitcher with water and slices of orange or sprigs of mint for fl avoring. Invest in a countertop water dispenser; kids love the novelty of refi lling their own glasses. Fill ice cube trays with diluted fruit juice and berries, and freeze to add novelty to iced water.
Prioritize sleep. It’s easy to skimp on the Zzz’s when life is full. But lack of sleep can impact brain development, immune function, mood, and even weight: kids who don’t get enough sleep are at higher risk of being obese as adults. To encourage a restful night, shut down electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime, and start dimming lights and noise levels throughout the house. For younger kids, create a nighttime ritual: brush teeth, read a story, sing a song. If kids struggle with sleep, try gentle herbs such as passionfl ower, chamomile, or catnip. Look for them as single or combination formulas in capsules or alcohol- free tinctures. Or choose a homeopathic sleep remedy designed for kids; they’re safe enough even for little ones.