Healthier habits for your family

Don’t know about you, but when the school holidays arrive, they can bring further challenges. Whether it’s juggling childcare so you can carry on a busy job or, if you’re at home, trying to keep kids fed, watered and entertained.

So, you probably won’t be up for a further challenge?! Maybe you will.

I don’t want to bring a downer to the summer hols but I am worried about the health of our kids as they get older. We are seeing more and more childhood obesity – did you know that 1 in 5 ten to eleven year olds are already obese? And even those whose natural childhood energy is keeping them trim may be storing up health and weight problems for the future by their over-indulgence in fizzy drinks, sugar and processed carbs. Studies show that these can increase fatty liver disease which is associated with a greater risk of diabetes and more in the future.

And whilst computer games aren’t all bad (they can teach kids problem solving and improve reaction time according to some studies) too much exposure to the blue light of screens, especially late at night, can play havoc with their body clock and sleep routines. Mental health issues seem to be more prevalent now too – partly fuelled by social media and other peer pressure. I am sure though that a nutrient-poor diet from overly processed foods plus a lack of sleep doesn’t help either.

Kids are naturally active, but sadly, technology is keeping some of them firmly entrenched in their bedrooms, out of natural light, away from face-to-face socialising and certainly not boosting muscle and bone development that previous generations would have ensured by jumping, running, skipping and kicking a ball around outdoors.

Now, no-one wants to turn the summer hols into a battle-field! We don’t need the stress and our kids don’t want to be nagged, for sure. But, as with everything we advocate at VavistaLife, small changes and gentle tweaks can be snuck under the radar. You are more in control of their diet when they aren’t at school, so try to encourage them to get involved in home cooking and reduce snacking on sweets and processed carbs. Keep a full bowl of fresh and tempting fruit on display and a jug of water on the table at every meal. Try to slowly replace some of those processed, high sugar snacks with fresh nuts, veg sticks and hummus or nut butter, and home made fruit/fibre rich muffins or bars.

A no-screens in the bedroom rule is one rule worth battling, I think, as it will help sleep by avoiding temptation to stay up late on social media and gaming.

And then family activities outdoors will help all of us to keep fit and healthy and may even improve communications …teenagers seem more likely to chat when it’s part of another activity than when put on the spot, face-to-face!

Starting to build a few healthier habits over the summer may make them easier to sustain when school starts again in September – and building them as a family makes them more likely to last for good.