Changing Behaviors to Impact your Health

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Just as we have developed bad habits such as playing video games for hours on end or eating in front of the television – it will take time to develop healthy habits.

“It takes the average person 30 days to make a new behavior a habit,” says Christie Bernard, registered nurse at Dayton Children’s. “Setting simple and attainable goals to achieve a healthy lifestyle is important for every family.”

Healthy habits are for everyone.  Here are some simple behaviors that you can develop into healthy habits:

  • Eat at least 5 fruits or vegetables each day.
  • Limit TV time to less than two hours each day.
  • Make sure everyone in your family gets at least 1 hour of activity or exercise each day.
  • Limit sugar-containing drinks and drink more milk and water.
  • Help your child relate positive feelings with healthy activities. Instead of rewarding your child with a candy bar for a great report card, consider spending a day at the park with him or her.
  • Praise your child when he or she practices a healthy habit.
  • Set a good example as a parent – children will imitate what you do.

Kids will eat mostly what's available to them. That's why it's important to control the foods that you serve for meals and have on hand for snacks to help your child get in the habit of eating well. 

Follow these basic guidelines:

  • Work fruits and vegetables into the daily routine. Be sure you serve fruit and/or vegetables at every meal.
  • Serve lean meats and other good sources of protein, such as fish, eggs, beans, and nuts.
  • Choose whole-grain breads and cereals so kids get more fiber.
  • Limit fat intake by avoiding deep-fried foods and choosing healthier cooking methods, such as broiling, grilling, roasting, and steaming. Choose low-fat or nonfat dairy products.
  • Limit sugar-containing drinks, such as soda, sports drinks and fruit-flavored drinks. Serve water and low-fat milk instead.

Combining regular physical activity with a healthy diet is the key to a healthy lifestyle. Here are some strategies to help you make sure your child is getting the recommended one hour of activity each day:

  • Help your child participate in a variety of activities that are age-appropriate.
  • Establish a regular schedule for physical activity.
  • Incorporate activity into daily routines, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Turn family time into active time by planning active outings.
  • Embrace a healthier lifestyle yourself, so you'll be a positive role model for your family.
  • Keep it fun, so you can count on your child to come back for more.
  • Help your child relate positive feelings with healthy activities. Instead of rewarding your child with a candy bar for a great report card, consider spending a day at the park with him or her.

“And remember, it’s important to stick to your expectations and give your child consistency,” says Bernard. “Make sure all of your child’s caregivers support your new lifestyle – this includes the babysitter, grandparents and others.”



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