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7 STEPS TO A HEALTHIER LIFE


Healthy Kids, a program from Alere health management systems, provides parents with seven, easy-to-implement strategies for helping children develop healthier lives.

1. Talk about it. Sit down with your children to discuss healthy changes to their habits. Changing your children's eating and activity habits means committing to changing your own habits, so look for changes the entire family can embrace. Make sure to listen to what your kids are saying when it comes to food and activity. Then, commit to providing the support and encouragement they need to be successful.

2. Make healthy choices easier. You can't always control your kids, but you can control the environment at home. Encourage better choices by:

Keeping healthier foods on hand such as whole-grain, low-sugar breakfast foods and portable healthy snacks.

Eating together often at least three or times a week.

Having active games available for use during "no TV" times.

3. Make healthy food fun. Children can and do understand the importance of healthy eating. It's the parent's job to show a child that healthy eating is not only important, but it can also be fun, help them to feel better, and get more from life. When possible, families should grocery shop together to find healthy, new foods. Make it interesting for younger children by going on a scavenger hunt in the produce aisle, and challenge older kids to see if they can find healthier ingredients for their favorite burritos or pizza.

4. Make it taste good. Kids won't eat, if it doesn't taste good. Look for recipes starting with favorite and familiar foods that can easily be made healthier. Also, encourage youngsters to get involved in preparing foods with fun, age-appropriate activities.

5. Get active together. Make being more active a family affair. Your children will learn healthy habits from watching you. Find activities you can do together as a family, everything from walking to school together to spending the day hiking or biking. Remember, this is a long-term commitment. If you go back to old habits yourself, your children will probably follow suit.

6. Keep track. Record your family's food choices and activity level. Over time, this can be a useful tool in noticing changes and keeping you and your family accountable. Remember, if you stray off course, don't quit. Determine what led to the lapse a busier schedule, lack of planning, etc. and find ways to get back on track. Remember to stay with it. Your family will benefit.

7. Be positive. This may be one of the most important things you can do when encouraging better health for your kids. Maintaining an upbeat attitude and avoiding nagging or negative comments can help build confidence and make your child more willing to stay with a plan for a healthier lifestyle.

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