On April 20, 2012, KevinMd published an excellent article by Barbara Bronson Gray, RN entitled “How to create a health culture at home for your kids.”  Since it’s hard to improve on perfection, I have reprinted, below, some of her tips on raising a healthy family:

“Here are some more proven tips for creating a health culture within your family:

  • Don’t use food as a reward for anything. Food is about nutrition, food can be fun, food can be celebratory, but you don’t get a candy bar for exercising or a cookie for turning in your homework. People who have learned to use food as a reward tend to develop weight issues and sometimes even eating disorders.
  •  Be calm about visits to the doctor and don’t make a big thing about injections or simple procedures. Explain why the “shot” will help them, dry their tears if they cry, give them a hug and move on. Kids will benefit if they don’t learn to associate health care with drama. Don’t reward kids for getting a shot. Make health care a regular part of life.
  • Serve balanced meals and avoid fast food.
  • Kids aren’t cows; they don’t need to graze constantly. Snacks, if really necessary, should be fruits and vegetables, a small handful of nuts. They should sip water, not juice (because it’s high in calories and natural sugar and can cause cavities without brushing soon after drinking).
  • Make sure your kids brush their teeth thoroughly twice a day.
  • Set a bed time that ensures enough sleep and stick to it. (You’ll benefit from this, too!)
  • Make sure everybody gets 30 minutes of exercise every day, including you. If you can, do things together. Shoot baskets. Take the dog for a walk. Play ping-pong. Grab a bike. Run around the neighborhood. Take a walk. Swim. Rollerblade. (Helmets, please; my only addition)
  • Go outside together. It’s far more likely to get you moving than staying between four walls.
  • Refuse to start the car unless everyone has their seat belts fastened. Period.
  • For teenagers who drive, set an ironclad rule about the car: no talking on the phone, texting, or eating while driving. Period.
  • Together, read books and watch videos that teach kids about their bodies and how they work.

Model healthy living for your children: no smoking, responsible drinking, exercise, stress management and active engagement in health care.”

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