Healthy Living Tips for Parents

1. Drink more water

Most of us actually don’t drink enough water. Do you know over 60% of our body is made up of water? Water is essential to carry out functions throughout our body, it is needed to remove waste and carry nutrients and oxygen around our body and we couldn’t survive without it! Around 1250ml of water consumed daily for each 30kg of bodyweight is a great basic guideline.

2. Exercise daily

Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore, find fun ways to get fit whether it may be as a family playing in the park, swimming at the beach or local pools, shooting some hoops or kicking a ball…. or you could always try joining a local sports team. This can be a great way to meet new friends and encourage confidence for all ages. Try and introduce kids to a variety of sports and you might be surprised at what they will enjoy, and remember they might not always want to play the same sports mum and dad did!

3. The Glycemic Index

Learn how the Glycemic Index works and how your child’s body or your own will respond to certain foods. This can play an important part in forming the base of a strong foundation which supports healthy eating habits in the future. The glycemic index "GI" is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels after eating that particular food. The effects that different foods have on blood sugar levels vary considerably. Foods with a high GI ranking are those which are quickly digested and absorbed by the body and result in rapid fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Low-GI foods, due to their nature of slow digestion and absorption, produce gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin levels.

Health benefits of low glycemic foods.

  • They help keep you feeling fuller for longer periods of time, this helps to reduce the temptation to snack and over eat.
  • Helps to lower and control 'bad' cholesterol levels.
  • Improves physical endurance, as blood glucose levels are kept at a moderate level for a more sustained period of time.
  • Studies have proven decreased risk of heart disease and cancer in those who followed a diet consisting primarily of low GI foods for several years.
  • Contributes to lowering the risk of getting type 2 diabetes and for those already suffering from diabetes it helps control the condition.

4. Eat a variety of fruit

Fruits have amazing properties they are rich in vitamins, minerals, micro- nutrients and anti-oxidants which helps the body protect and rejuvenate cells, tissues and organs. They are a great source of dietary fibre and best of all they taste great and are so convenient to eat! So try eating a variety of fruits daily as they each have their own benefits and qualities.

5. Get enough sleep

Regular sleeping habits play a crucial part in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Sleep is a period where the body’s cells are doing a lot of repairing. Your cells produce more protein while you are sleeping and these protein molecules form the building blocks for cells, allowing them to repair damage. Maintaining regular sleeping patterns have shown numerous benefits towards heart health, reducing stress and inflammation, aiding brain and memory function and supporting healthy body weight. Research has shown children aged 3-6 years should sleep 10-12 hours per day 7-12 years old 10-11 hours per day and 12-18 years old 8-9 hours per day.

6. Don’t skip breakfast

Our bodies need constant refueling and the longest period without fuel is when we sleep. Our blood sugar levels drop during this time so when we rise for the day we need to supply the body with a fresh source of energy to get us going. A balanced breakfast made up of carbohydrates, protein, fibre and essential fats will get our metabolism firing and help give the body a much needed kick-start for the day. Research studies indicate that children who eat breakfast perform better on cognitive (learning, thinking) tests and in school. This also goes for parents in the work place!

7. Family Time

Set aside time in the weekend or one night after work when everyone’s home to do something as a family. It can be a great idea to get out of the house where possible to avoid distractions and leave your phones at home! Even a family walk where the kids can scooter or ride their bikes and mum and dad can beat the feet works wonders. Try feeding the ducks or play a round of mini golf, visit a local market, see a movie…. Just do things as a family break the normal routine of life and it will strengthen your family bonds and allows you to share quality time together.

8. Try new things

This includes activities, food, hobbies, books, music, places, you name it! It’s an amazing world out there with so much to offer so get out there as a family and try new things! Put some effort in and you will be amazed at what you will get back. Indoor rock-climbing, arts and crafts, Vietnamese food, go to the library and all choose a book, visit a new beach, go for a bush walk, go to an outdoor concert. The opportunities are endless challenge yourselves, open your senses and explore. Who knows you might even find something you all like!

9. Routine

Establish routines as a family. Kids respond well to organization and structure. They may not always agree with it but the fact is it works. Most households already have some form of routine in place, whether it is as simple as regular bath time, brushing teeth, bedtimes, and meal times. These predictable and constant schedules help keep children comfortable in their environment and create security for them as they know what to expect and what is expected of them. Keep it simple and try occasionally introducing one new element to your weekly routine that might benefit you as a parent or your family and stick to it, only once it is well established and part of daily life try introducing something else.

10. Eat nuts and seeds

Eating small quantities of nuts and seeds close to their natural state (meaning without added salt or sugar) is a great addition to anyone’s diet. Just a handful alone packs a nutritional punch. They are rich in vitamins, minerals and essential fats. They supply a good source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are essential for managing inflammation and maintaining the normal structure of every cell in our bodies. Nuts and seeds are also high energy foods containing a lot of calories and can be a good source of protein. Some of our favourite nuts and seeds due to their properties and taste are pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans and peanuts. Just remember they can be a choking hazard for small children.

11. Eat whole grain

Grains, especially whole grains, are an essential part of a healthy diet. Whole grains are unrefined grains that haven't had their bran and germ removed by milling. Whole grains provide a better source of fibre and other important nutrients, such as vitamin B, selenium, potassium, iron and magnesium than refined grains. They also contain antioxidants which help keep your body strong and healthy. In fact, there are antioxidants present in whole grains that are not found in any fruits and vegetables. A diet that is rich in whole grain foods can also help to regulate blood sugar levels as most whole grain foods are low to moderate GI. Some common examples of whole grains in single foods are fresh corn on the cob, popcorn, oats, quinoa, and brown rice. Whole grains can also become part of the ingredients in products such as buckwheat in pancakes, waffles and baking or whole wheat is commonly found in breads.