The struggle to maintain a healthy work/life balance is near impossible for most people these days, and throwing kids and loved ones into the mix only makes it all the more challenging. Look around and people seem worn out, struggling to find the time, money and inspiration to keep themselves and their families happy and healthy.
With social media and advertising taking much of the blame, we feel pressured to raise our kids on the finest after-school activities, to feed our families the latest and greatest energy boosting superfoods, to exercise ourselves to Hollywood-sized proportions, all while looking youthful, glowing and Botoxfully beautiful.
We’re up against a bombardment of TV ads doing their best to turn our kids into junk-food filled fatties. Technology and peer pressures are beating us hands down in our efforts to get our kids exercising and eating properly, and our own lack of time means it’s difficult to get everyone together in the family home, eat healthily. It’s no wonder we’re feeling totally exhausted.
But if you step back, take a few breaths and recognise that small changes can have big positive effects, you’ll be amazed what a difference you can make. Try these simple tips to keep yourself and your family healthy despite everyday challenges:
Make breakfast fast.
To avoid lapses in energy and sugar crashes later in the day it’s vital you and your family always eat breakfast. Want some quick breakfast ideas? Get on the overnight oats bandwagon – the night before simply mix porridge oats and milk (or soy/almond/rice/coconut milk etc), add some banana, mango or dried fruit, perhaps some almond butter too, stir and leave overnight in the fridge ready to be eaten the next day. Substitute with omega packed chia seeds as an alternative to oats. Throw on some nuts and seeds and you have an amazingly healthy, yummy and super quick breakfast that all the family will love. Fancy a change from that? Try using WaHiki Coconut Ice cream and cover with nuts, seeds & dried fruit.
Other quick and nutritional breakfast ideas include homemade muesli or muesli bars, almond butter, avocado or hummus on wholemeal toast, poached eggs and banana wholemeal pancakes.
Offer healthy snacks.
Tempt your kids away from junk food and keep their energy levels up by giving them a homemade snack every 3 or so hours. Healthy snacks include vegetable sticks (e.g. carrot, cucumber, capsicum) with hummus or cream cheese, apples spread with nut or seed butter, rice or corn cakes, nuts, dried fruit, or homemade treats like muffins, muesli bars or energy balls. Make sure lollies and junk food are limited to a once a week treat, or even better avoid temptation by not even having them in your house.
Restrict soft drinks and minimise juice and milk consumption.
Whilst juice and milk contain valuable nutrients, the sugar in these drinks is not just bad for teeth but can fill up little tummies, meaning your kids won’t be hungry for their evening meal. Just allow one or two glasses per day, preferably during or after meals.
Prepare meals in advance.
Save time by making meals in large quantities and freezing for another day. Plan the week’s meals ahead of time. Shop with a shopping list that covers all ingredients needed so you’re sure to buy what you need and avoid things you don’t.
Bake at home.
Most kids have a sweet tooth so if you’re quite the baker you can steer them away from shop-bought junk food by making your own sweet little treats at home. This way you can experiment with alternatives to sugar and can ensure there are no nasty preservatives and additives added.
Make food look appealing.
Sometimes all it takes to get your little ones eating healthily is making the food look pretty and fun. Mix up colours. Cut sandwiches into shapes with a biscuit cutter. Stick eyes, noses and mouths on food with carrot sticks, half cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, raisins etc. Use grated cheese for hair. Make wraps with carrot, cheese and lettuce and cut into colourful slices. Let your imagination go wild because if it looks cool, there’s a good chance your kids will eat it.
Reward healthy eating.
Give your kids a reward sticker each time they try a new food or eat their whole meal. A scheme whereby 5 stickers equals an extra 30 minutes of TV or playing on the tablet can work wonders to ensure good eating habits.
Have the kids help.
When kids help make a meal they feel more involved and are more likely to eat it. You could also ask them to help choose what to make or have them suggest two or three healthy ingredients to include.
Yes, everyone is on a busy schedule and it’s probably hard to get everyone together to eat every day, but it’s important to eat as a family as much as possible, even if it’s only once a week. It’s not just a chance to have a chat and reconnect with one another, but a great way to inspire little ones to eat what you’re eating. Sharing a family pot of WaHiki ice cream is a great way to enjoy a dessert together!
Make your kids the food police.
Encourage your kids to be conscious of what they’re eating and to call you out if they spot you eating something unhealthy. They’ll take pride in their newfound responsibility and it’s sure to have a positive effect on their eating habits too.
You don’t need hours each week for the gym – getting out and having a run around with your kids will keep you all fit and happy. A few ideas: a family bike ride, play chasey in the garden, skip rope, musical chairs, pop your favourite songs on and dance up a storm, play football or basketball outside, go swimming together, do a backyard obstacle course etc etc.
Get outside every day.
Another reason to get outside with your kids is to make sure you’re all getting enough Vitamin D, which is vital for bone and muscle strength and overall good health. Try to be outside for 30 minutes every day, but be sure to wear sun protection during the warmer months.
Avoid illness with good hygiene.
Minimise bouts of illness by ensuring everyone washes their hands routinely throughout the day, throws away used tissues, puts their hand over their mouth when coughing, avoids touching eyes, nose and mouth, avoids biting nails, etc. Make sure you’re also up to date with vaccinations too.
Get enough sleep.
Sleep is vital to restore and rejuvenate our bodies and brains, repair tissue, regulate hormones, reduce stress, enhance learning and concentration and generally maintain good health. If you or your family are not getting enough sleep you will not be functioning to the best of your ability. Adults should be sleeping at least 7 hours a night, and teenagers and children should be sleeping a lot more than this.
Spend time together.
Finally, the secret to keeping your family happy and healthy is spending time together. Time in each other’s company, laughing, chatting and bonding, provides a connection on which love and trust are built, resulting in your children being more compliant and respectful of what it is you ask of them. It can be as simple as watching a film together at home, going out bowling or shopping, going for a ‘date’ with your child to a local café, drawing or reading together, chasing each other around the garden or dancing together.
Whilst it might seem like a huge challenge to keep your family healthy in this fast-paced time-poor frantic world of temptation, if you put into practice just a few of these tips, you’re bound to notice some really positive changes.