As a parent, you want to do anything you can to protect your family’s well-being. It all begins with safeguarding their health.
How can you increase the physical and mental fitness of those you love most? Here are eight ways to support your family’s health this winter and all year long.
1. Get in the Kitchen
If you think of your body as a giant chemistry experiment, you understand how any substance you add to the mix has the potential to do something really cool — or extremely yucky. You might disagree that food is medicine, but too much junk and not enough nourishment will quickly destroy your family’s physical and mental health.
Ultra-processed foods are typically high in sugar and salt and may contain unhealthy fats. Excess sodium ups heart disease risk by increasing blood pressure and too much sugar can lead to insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. The best way to avoid such products is to get in the kitchen and prepare whole foods from their natural state.
Many nutritionists recommend a Mediterranean-style diet for impressive health benefits. Enjoy tons of seafood — regularly doing so slashes heart disease risk by more than a third. Consume plenty of fruits and veggies for vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. It helps to look at your plate as a clock and fill half with the rabbit stuff at each meal to improve nutrition while cutting calories.
2. Motivate Everyone to Move More
If your family’s favorite thing is a Netflix binge, there’s nothing wrong with that — but spending too long on the couch increases health risks. If you want to support your loved ones’ well-being, get them moving more frequently.
One way to do so is to take a post-dinner walk together. Scientific evidence suggests that doing so might aid digestion, and it ups your exercise quotient without making you break a sweat.
Another idea is to sign up for community sports leagues once your children get old enough to participate. Sports like volleyball and softball increase your calorie burn while making your family feel more like a team.
3. Improve Your Oral Health Care
Do you floss daily? Only around a third of folks do, but failure to whip out the silly string can lead to gum disease and other health woes. Oral bacteria can enter your bloodstream through infected gums and travel to your brain and heart, sometimes with fatal results.
Ideally, each family member should see their dentist every six months. At a minimum, please make sure everyone brushes twice daily and flosses once. Contrary to earlier wisdom, you should wait before brushing after meals so that you don’t damage your tooth enamel. The best times are before breakfast and bed.
4. Stay Nice and Toasty
It’s not true that the cold can make you sick — only a germ can do that. However, bugs spread more readily in chilly air, and catching a chill can lower your immune response.
Get your family bundled up before they venture out on frigid days. While you may need to save money on heating oil this year more than ever, don’t make the mistake of freezing your loved ones — doctor’s visits also cost money.
5. Take Your Vitamins
Although certain supplements may not lower your risk of infectious disease, they can shorten illness duration. Look for vitamins containing zinc and vitamin C to ease your family’s misery during cold and flu season.
Another nutrient that might cut your family’s risk is the sunshine vitamin — vitamin D — a hormone your body produces when exposed to sunlight. Scientists are now investigating whether deficiency makes you more susceptible to COVID-19. In the meantime, you might consider either a supplement, getting outdoors more often or both.
6. Tame Your Tension
Anyone who has a chronic pain condition can tell you that too much tension can cause excruciating flares. Stress makes every existing disorder worse, and it can contribute to the development of new ones.
For example, the stress hormone cortisol increases cravings for sugary and fatty foods because it’s your body’s way of preparing for an extended battle. However, you don’t need any calories to deal with overbearing supervisors or ever-increasing rents. The extra pounds contribute to everything from low self-esteem to heart disease.
Likewise, stress can contribute to substance abuse. Participant data from 18 separate studies show that those who work more than 40 hours per week run an increased risk of alcoholism.
You can decrease stress through practices like yoga and meditation. However, talking things out with someone you love is another way to tame tension.
7. Discuss Big Feelings
If your family shies away from discussing big feelings, please make it okay to do so. If nothing else, your kids deserve a safe place to work through their issues with emotional intelligence and compassion.
One way to encourage open communication lines is to bring back the family dinner. However, it’s every bit as vital to express in no uncertain terms that your kids can approach you about issues like bullying, sex and drug use without getting themselves in trouble. Please don’t leave them wandering in the dark — tell them it’s okay.
8. Keep Each Bedroom an Oasis
Finally, a good night’s sleep boosts mental focus and enhances physical well-being. Encourage better shuteye by making each bedroom an oasis.
If your kids share a room and want a bed tent for privacy, indulge their wish if it helps them to get their Zzz’s. Create a charging center in the kitchen and leave phones and tablets plugged in out there, not under the sheets where blue light can interrupt sleep.
Support Your Family’s Health This Winter With These Tips
As a parent, you need to nurture your loved one’s well-being. Support your family’s health this winter with these eight tips.