10 Healthy Habits to Start Now With Your Kids and Grandkids

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Unhealthy habits that begin in childhood typically extend into adult stages of life.

With the obesity rate and increasing health problems skyrocketing in children, it's never too early to start sharing healthy habits with your kids and grandkids.

There are certainly more than 10 healthy habits that can be started. This is just a handful of suggestions. Readers are encouraged to add and share their own ideas and healthy habits in the comment section at the end of this article!


1. Get your kids moving each day

Research shows that at least one hour of exercise is needed each day (by both adults and kids) for good health. Long periods of being seated increase the risk of obesity, cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Here are a few ideas for starters:

  • Take a family bike ride.
  • Play tag with your kids
  • Get a family game of basketball going
  • Find a state park and go hiking
  • Find a pool and go swimming

...the possibilities are endless

2. Fill Your Kitchen With Healthy Options

Keep your pantry free of junk food and sugary drinks. And don't try to hide the bad stuff - get rid of it completely or bring it home only for special occasions.

Always have a fruit basket sitting out.

Stock the 'fridge with carrot, celery sticks, and other raw veggies and a low fat dip or dressing.


3. Have A Healthy Foods Contest With Your Kids

Create some family fun with a contest...

During the month, go through the alphabet and challenge each other to eat a fruit or veggie that starts with each letter

  • A= apple
  • B= banana
  • C= carrot
  • etc.

Who can make it all the way through the alphabet?

Or have a "designer" healthy food night - let the kids design a new creation or make variations of existing fun foods (for example, "ants on a log" - celery with peanut butter and raisins on top)

Let the kids invite friends over to sample their healthy creation.

4. Redefine "dessert"

Skip the bribe. Rewarding kids with something sweet if they eat their dinner is one of the worse habits to get into. That "reward" stimuli carries into adulthood. The feeling and need to have something sweet after each meal is one of the biggest struggles to overcome as an adult.

Instead, give the kids something healthy after dinner like yogurt, fruit or low fat popcorn.

5. Teach Kids Where Real Food Comes From

Take the time to understand and share with your kids where food really comes from. It's never to early to start learning how to read labels with them.

Together, learn the difference between living and non-living foods. Processed foods are not living and have been stripped of most beneficial nutrients.

Let your kids plant some patio tomatoes, a small container garden, or a regular garden if you have the space so they can learn and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

6. Keep A Family Food Journal

Start a journal with you kids. Each day, keep track of how many fruits and veggies you each had. This can be tied back into family contests. Which family member can eat the most fruits and veggies?

7. Water, Water, and more Water!

Take the time to explain the importance of water and hydration.

This is another habit that can also be tied back into the family food journal - track how much water the family drinks each day and then do some fun math at the end of the year to see how many gallons you each had.

8. Brush Teeth Right After Every Meal

Getting kids into this habit not only keeps their teeth healthy and happy, it discourages snacking after meals. And don't forget to floss! Flossing on a regular basis can add years to your life - seriously!

9. Set Good Bedtime Habits - Get Enough ZZZ's

Getting enough sleep is important at any age. Sleep deprivation in children affects mental growth and over time can contribute to a wide range of diseases: diabetes, mental illness, heart disease, and obesity.

10. Get Out to Enjoy and Explore Nature

Most kids now run the risk of what's now recognized as "nature deficit disorder". Studies have shown that exposure to nature is critical for both the physical and emotional development of children.

Practice What You Preach (and teach)

"Monkey see, Monkey do" - right!?!

Just telling your kids or grandkids what to do isn't going to work. They need to see you choosing and engaging in these healthy habits with them!

Readers are encourage to share additional ideas in the comment section below!

My Top 3 "Must-Read" Books for Parents and Grandparents

1. Last Child In the Woods: saving our children from nature-deficit disorder by Richard Louv

2. Food Rules by Michael Pollen (this is "quick read" that can easily be read with or by kids)

3. Food, Inc. (as a book or DVD) - A startling insight on the cost of putting value and food convenience over nutrition and the environment.

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Comments 40 comments

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, this is a really good article about children and their food habits, I particularly like the idea of brushing teeth after eating every meal to stop snacking, rated up! cheers nell


tarajeyaram profile image

tarajeyaram 5 years ago from Wonderland

Great hub. I like the way you illustrated that habits need to be taught at younger age. Whatever you learn as kids, it will be with you forever. Thank you for the hub. I like reading your hubs.


tsarnaudova profile image

tsarnaudova 5 years ago from Sofia, Bulgaria

Great hub, Kris! Excellent practices for teaching kids - and ourselves :)

I agree with you about personal example!


andiemaclan profile image

andiemaclan 5 years ago from Manila

This is a very useful hub, Kris. Very informative but not too technical. Moreover, I really like how you present your ideas. Kids really love to play, so why not teach them a healthy eating habit the fun way? And yes, kids learn by imitation, so adults must really practice what they preach. I'm going to apply this tips on my personal eating habit. :)


cabmgmnt profile image

cabmgmnt 5 years ago from Northfield, MA

Kris,

I love the tip for choosing a vegetable or a fruit by using the alphabet. I am going to try that one at my house. Also, water, water...we have a rule "If you are thirsty drink water". A drink of milk or juice isn't allowed as a thirst quencher in our house. Milk and juice are used at meals but as a drink they can add hidden fat and calories in your diet so we stick to water. I never worry that my family has not had enough water to drink by following that rule.


Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana Author

@cabmagmnt - let me know how the alphabet game goes! That's a great rule to have for water:)

@Neil Rose, @tarajeyaram, @andiemacian - thanks for stopping by and for the comments:)


twilanelson profile image

twilanelson 4 years ago from Carmichael, California

Fantastic Hub that is written well and should be followed with great focus. I will be following as many of these tips with my daughters and granddaughters as I possibly can. Thank you!


Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 4 years ago from Indiana Author

@twilanelson - thanks for stopping by and I'm glad to hear the tips will be useful for you!


Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 4 years ago from Indiana Author

Thanks to all who have stopped by - I just received word today that this hub has been nominated as a hubnugget under the "food" category. It took me awhile to figure out what this was but found that those that like the hub can vote on the URL thru Dec 21st: http://hubpages.com/food


wordscribe43 profile image

wordscribe43 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

Wow, fabulous information and some really great ideas. I like the family food journal idea.. a LOT. Anyway, congrats on the nomination! I voted for you and good luck.


Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 4 years ago from Indiana Author

@wordscribe43 - thanks for stopping by. I'm happy to hear you liked the tips.


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan

This is a great article. I have written a couple of hubs on healthy eating for kids/families as well. It is sooo important and really needs to start at an early age. I love the idea about the alphabet contest and keep a food journal and it being a contest. If you don't mind I'm going to link this to my healthy snacks for kids hub.

Congrats on your nomination!


Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 4 years ago from Indiana Author

@cardelean - thanks for stopping by and for the links. I'll create a link back to yours as well:)


daleamy profile image

daleamy 4 years ago from Spring Hill, TN

Great advice--I especially like the tip, "Redefine dessert." We often skip dessert, but offering healthy desserts would be a better way to go!


Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 4 years ago from Indiana Author

@daleamy - skipping dessert can be good too! I sort of wish we had done that more as children. I'm so used to "having a dessert" at each meal that it's hard habit to break. Thanks for stopping by!


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 4 years ago from California

Excellent ideas! I especially like the "monkey see monkey do". My rule is never go to the movies on a sunny day unless it is above 100 degrees or below 40 degrees. My mid western bred husband will go to the movies anytime. His defense is his 100 miles a week bike rides during his commute.


Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 4 years ago from Indiana Author

@tirelesstraveler - your move rule is excellent, I like that one! Why waste a beautiful day indoors, right? Thanks for stopping by and contributing!


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Healthy habits do start as kids and I wish I started earlier too. :) These are all wonderful things to do and I too would like to share this to our parents of our preschoolers. Much love and blessings.

Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination. To read and vote, this way: http://pattyinglishms.hubpages.com/hubnuggets6/hub...


Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 4 years ago from Indiana Author

@ ripplemaker - thanks for stopping by! I, too, wish I had started some of these earlier. Old bad habits are hard to break:)


Jason Lim profile image

Jason Lim 4 years ago from Singapore

Really useful and helpful tips. Keep it up


greatparenting profile image

greatparenting 4 years ago from philadelphia, pa and corolla, nc

Such an excellent hub. Totally practical and useful. I hope people pay attention. Got one "kid friendly" home activity to suggest as an addition to your list. It's put on some music and dance. It's free and it's fun.


Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 4 years ago from Indiana Author

@grandparenting - thanks for stopping by and that's an excellent tip! I'll work to add that in. Who doesn't love free and fun:)


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

No wonder you have been read so much in such a short time. Great information, clearly written.


Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 4 years ago from Indiana Author

Thanks for stopping by Kathleen!


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

What a fabulous hub, lots of excellent useful tips that we can all benefit from.

I planted a lot of seeds with the grandchildren this year, they really enjoyed watching them grow then picking and eating the results!


Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 4 years ago from Indiana Author

@Movie Master - what a great activity to do with your grandchildren. I hope it becomes an annual activity for you guys. So many kids never have the opportunity to plant a garden and learn where their food comes from.


tarajeyaram profile image

tarajeyaram 4 years ago from Wonderland

Kris Heeter - you sent me my first fan mail. It encouraged me to write. Thank you and Happy New Year. I really believe in teaching healthy habits at a young age. I chose this hub in my Tribute to 100 followers - top 10 hubs.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

Kris Heeter:

Some fabulous points for everyone to keep in mind! Thanks for sharing 10 good habits to develop in the New Year!


Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 4 years ago from Indiana Author

@tarajeyaram - I'm so happy that you are continuing to write! And, I feel so honored to be included in your tribute:) thank-you!

@RTalloni - thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to comment. Hope you New Year is off to a great start:)


rednickle profile image

rednickle 4 years ago from New Brunswick Canada

A great guide and fabulous points you have written here. Following this guide would definitely help to prevent diseases like diabetics in the future. But well it is one thing to point this out to the kids and it is another thing for them to practice it religiously.


VeronicaFarkas profile image

VeronicaFarkas 4 years ago from Ohio, USA

What a great hub, Kris!!! It starts w/ us - the parents. We cannot rely on teachers and coaches to teach our children the basics! =D Fabulous & useful tips!

Voted up & useful!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Great hub Kris - I think as parents we have a responsibility to make sure we educate our children in the best way to eat. And most of the advice we pass on does keep them going in adulthood too if they choose to listen :o)


Jamie Brock profile image

Jamie Brock 3 years ago from Texas

This a great hub with lots of very useful tips! I am always trying to get my son to branch out and try new foods but he's so closed minded about it..here lately I've been trying to sneak veggies into some of his favorite foods. He is on a spaghetti kick now so it's a good way to get tomatoes in. I do the same thing with water by adding it to his beverages when I can. He is so darned picky about things! All of these tips are great.. thank you for sharing :)


Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 3 years ago from Indiana Author

@Jamie Brock - thanks for adding some feedback! Kids can be really hard to persuade and their tastes change so much over time. I'm always amazed at how they can like one thing one year and then the next year or a two they think it's "yucky". Seems like a never end battle:)


L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 3 years ago from Oklahoma City

Kris, you've provided lots of great tips here to jump start healthy habits in our kids and grandkids.

I think one of the most valuable items you've mentioned is the importance of the adults modeling the behavior they want the young ones to follow. Getting outdoors and doing activities with the kids isn't only healthy for both generations, it builds memories that will last.

Great hub; voted up and Shared.


L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 3 years ago from Oklahoma City

Kris, you've provided lots of great tips here to jump start healthy habits in our kids and grandkids.

I think one of the most valuable items you've mentioned is the importance of the adults modeling the behavior they want the young ones to follow. Getting outdoors and doing activities with the kids isn't only healthy for both generations, it builds memories that will last.

Great hub; voted up and Shared.


Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 3 years ago from Indiana Author

@L.L. Woodard - thanks for adding to the conversation and thanks for sharing. The book I reference "Last Child in the Woods" makes a great argument for this. Children who do not grow up with the opportunity play and interact the natural environment suffer emotionally and mentally. And as adults, getting out and experiencing nature is a natural way to de-stress!


mariasial profile image

mariasial 3 years ago from united kingdom

Very nice hub Kris quite interesting ideas given by you


Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 3 years ago from Indiana Author

@mariasial - thanks for stopping by and I'm glad you found this interesting:)


poetryman6969 profile image

poetryman6969 2 years ago

Very cool. Mom is the key to ending childhood obesity.

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