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One of the best ways to prepare your children for a long and healthy life is to get them started early with their own healthy habits. This is best taught by example. When the entire family practices healthy habits, they’re more likely to stick with your children for life. Here are five healthy habits to create for you and your family.

Drink water – Most of us just don’t drink enough water. Sure, we’re hydrated but sometimes it’s with calorie and sugar heavy beverages. Skip the soda, juice and sweetened drinks and stick to water. It may be a tough transition for the entire family, but you will be happy you did. Make the change gradually, and it will catch on.

Consume far less during mealtime – Do you want to upsize that? A question we hear at many restaurants. We’re a super-sized society. We’re accustomed to eating a lot during mealtime. Work on eating smaller portions during mealtime. Serve more vegetables on the plate. Fill up on healthy, sustaining foods, and you’ll end up eating less in the long run.

Move your body – Find a way to be active each and every day. Walk or bike to places when you can. Take hikes and family walks together. Play sports or engage in physical activities. The more you’re active as a family and on your own, the more your children will be active too. They will catch the inspiration. An active lifestyle is key to a healthy mind and body.

Appreciate food for what it is – Food was made to be enjoyed. And there’s nothing wrong with enjoying treats in moderation. When people have a healthy appreciation for food, they eat healthier. However, when they use food to soothe their emotions or as a reward, it creates a misguided relationship with food. Parents can try to not using food as a reward or punishment. But rather they should model and encourage a healthy relationship with all types of foods and display moderation themselves for their kids to follow.

Make more food at home – Takeout and prepackaged foods are sometimes necessary, but unless you’re really careful you run the risk of ending up with a meal that is not as healthy as you would like it to be. However, when a family makes food at home using fresh produce and healthy protein and carbohydrate options they’re more likely to eat healthy and to develop a healthy relationship with food. On the weekends when everyone is home together you can make cooking a family activity and enjoy some family togetherness, model good food habits, pass on cooking skills, and literally enjoy the fruits of your labor.

One of a parent’s most important responsibilities is to be a good role model. As your child grows they’ll learn about healthy habits from you. They watch, they emulate, and they adopt your habits.  Creating healthy habits as a family will help your children grow up healthy and strong. They’ll take the habits they learned as children into adulthood. And wouldn’t that make you proud?

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