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Creating Healthy Habits as a Family

Today is Family Fitness Day and school is out for summer this month, so we thought June would be the perfect time to talk about ways to stay healthy and fit as a family. Summer can be busy with vacations, camps, holidays and get-togethers, but the lack of school schedule and laid-back summer days make for a perfect time to try new things and create healthy habits. When we think of health, we often think of nutrition and exercise; however sleep, emotional health, and socializing are equally important factors to consider, especially for kids.

Nutrition
Summer is the perfect time to offer new healthy foods to your family thanks to all the fresh produce in season. Kids are more likely to try new foods if they are involved in the planning and cooking process. While not always doable, grocery shopping or cooking with kids can be a way to talk about nutritious foods in a fun way.

A trip to the farmers market is another way to get kids involved in picking out fruits and veggies for the family. Some families find that having fresh fruits and veggies prepped and ready in the fridge is an effective plan for avoiding mindless snacking. Another strategy to encourage healthy eating habits in the summer is to have kids help pack a picnic or sack-lunch for busy days. It’s a great way to avoid the drive-through, while keeping (or starting) the habit of kids making their own lunches.

Schedule
Recent research shows that school aged children gain weight at a rapid rate during summer break, likely due to the lack of schedule. Sticking to bedtime routines and an eating schedule based on meal times (instead of grazing all day), means kids are less likely to gain unnecessary weight this summer. We know the long summer days can make early bedtimes difficult, but avoiding a late bedtime every night can make life easier on everyone, and will also make it easier to stick to a meal schedule.

Fitness
Kids are more likely to participate in physical activity when they have a say in the plan, and when it’s something they enjoy. Have fun together! Make a family bucket list for the summer and include plenty of physical activities like going to a new park or beach, taking a family bike ride, visiting a splash pad, going on hikes, signing up for swim lessons, sports camps, etc. Trying new things means more opportunities to discover potential new family favorites.

Still not sure where to start when it comes to your family’s health habits this summer? Here are a few suggestions:
• Weekend hike or bike ride as a family
• No screens at meal time
• Evening walk after dinner
• Family barbeques instead of eating at restaurants
• Weekly Farmer’s Market trips
• Play dates at the park or splash pad
• Ask your kids their favorite fruits or veggies when meal planning for the week
• Keep a bedtime routine
• Try new parks or hikes while on vacation
• Take turns picking new or different fruits or veggies at the grocery store or Farmer’s Market
• Make a family bucket list at the beginning of each season
• Cook a new recipe together
• Keep a “snack” container in the fridge with healthy options you’re okay with your kids reaching for
• Outside play or reading before screen time

If you’re interested in learning about more ways to be healthy as a family, join Dr. Natalie Muth, and Health Coach Cassandra at Walk with a Doc. We walk Tuesdays at 4pm at Stagecoach Park in Carlsbad, and then have a quick lesson about strategies for becoming a fit and healthy family. The walk is free for the whole family, and a healthy snack is always provided! Find out more at walkwithadoc.org/Carlsbad.