FAMILY HEALTH GUIDE
9 STAY-HEALTHY TIPS FOR BUSY FAMILIES
When you’re juggling the demands of a busy family, it’s easy to let healthy habits fall by the wayside. These stay-healthy tips can help you stay on track.
Keeping' a' whole '- a mi ly' healthy' takes' some' serious' work—and when you’re strapped for time, it’s tempting to let things slide. But staying in tip-top shape is easier than you might think. Try these nine simple tips to keep your whole clan t and happy.
1 BANISH 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; serve chilled hibiscus, apple, or blueberry tea with breakfast instead.
Beware of hidden sugars in products like 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 stu less of a Holy Grail.
2 COOK SLOWLY.
Slow cookers are the fastest way to make a homecooked meal. While your coffee’s brewing in the morning,
ll your crockpot with meat, beans, or both; add broth, sauce, or water and a handful of spices, and turn it on low. When you come home, stir in frozen vegetables; you’ll have a ready-to-eat meal by the time you set the table. Family-friendly suggestions: pulled chicken, barbecue brisket, turkey chili, pot roast, short ribs, tacos, black bean soup, and white beans with kale. Make way more than you need, and freeze extras for easy future meals.
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 to 500
calories, 10 to 20 grams of protein, and less than 4 grams of saturated fat. Or make your own ultra-fast, zap-able meals: Microwave chopped vegetables with scrambled eggs and cheese, for an instant omelet. Combine blueberries, mashed banana, oats, ground ax, and an egg, and microwave to make a fast, hot mu n. 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.
4 TURN TV TIME INTO FITNESS HOUR.
Get your little potatoes o the couch, and let them watch the tube if they’re moving too. Do crunches, squats, or jumping jacks during commercials. Stretch or jog in place while channel sur ng. Keep a set of 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.
5 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 tness level. Stock up on quick morning meals-to-go: make smoothies the night before and freeze in ziplock bags, or keep a bowl of boiled eggs, small containers of fruit, and individual packets of almond butter ready for graband-go. Give kids and teens a well-designed multivitamin and mineral to ll in any nutritional gaps. Omega-3 fats are also important, especially if your kids don’t eat sh; look for kid-friendly, avored versions. Take a good vitamin D supplement, especially if kids (or parents) aren’t outdoorsy. And if you’re expecting, choose a balanced prenatal formula designed for daily use.
6 KEEP YOUR CREW WELL.
Busy families don’t have time to be sick! Keep kids healthy with safe, e ective immune-boosting supplements. For daily maintenance, use probiotics; dozens of studies have con rmed their ability to reduce allergy symptoms, improve immunity, lower in ammation, and more. If your family does get infected, try elderberry, echinacea, and andrographis; look for combination formulas in capsules or alcohol-free tinctures for the whole family. Or try a kid-friendly nasal wash with xylitol. And wash your hands relentlessly. at 30-second ritual can save you days of sickness from colds or u.
7 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, 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 level 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 like passion ower, chamomile, or catnip. Look for them as single or combination formulas in capsules or alcoholfree tinctures. Or choose a homeopathic sleep remedy designed for kids; they’re safe enough even for little ones.
8 DECREASE STRESS.
You may think your kids are too young to be burdened, but studies show even school-age children may have high levels of chronic tension and anxiety. If your kids struggle with stress, help them cope; rst, be sure they’re getting enough sleep and good nutrition. Don’t overschedule them; unstructured down time is the fastest rejuvenator for kids (and grown-ups). Keep your home environment calm and peaceful, especially during high-rush, stress-prone times like mornings. And be sure to set a good example; it’s hard to teach kids balance when you’re a basket case. You can also support your tech-loving kids with apps. One to try: HelloMind, a kid-focused app that o ers guided hypnosis sessions.
9 WATER YOUR FLOWERS.
Be sure your family is drinking 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 a reminder note on the front door to take water bottles before leaving the house. Other easy tips: Stock up on cans of sugarfree, fruit- avored zzy water to encourage sipping. Fill a big jar or pitcher with water and slices of orange or sprigs of mint for avoring. Invest in a countertop water dispenser; kids love the novelty of re lling their own glasses. Fill ice cube trays with diluted fruit juice and berries and freeze, to add novelty to iced water.