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Child Health, News | 18 days ago

Healthy Habits for Families: Building Strong Foundations Together

Creating a healthy lifestyle for you and your family doesn’t have to feel overwhelming. Dr. Debbie Chavez-Mitchell at Atrium Health Levine Children's Rea Village Pediatrics offers five key habits to incorporate into your daily routine that will help you and your family thrive

Nurturing healthy family habits can set your kids up for success in the long run. Making well-being a priority not only promotes physical well-being but also strengthens emotional connections and improves mental health.

Creating a healthy lifestyle for you and your family doesn’t have to feel overwhelming. Dr. Debbie Chavez-Mitchell at Atrium Health Levine Children's Rea Village Pediatrics offers key habits to incorporate into your daily routine that will help you and your family thrive.

Ditch the Distractions at Mealtime

Family meals are more than just a time to refuel; they’re an opportunity to connect. In today’s technology-driven culture, it can be tempting to eat meals in front of the TV or with phones in hand. However, making mealtimes a screen-free zone can have significant benefits.

Eating together without screens encourages conversation, which not only improves family relationships but also helps to decrease portion sizes.

“When families engage in meaningful conversations during meals, they tend to eat more mindfully, recognizing when they are full,” Chavez-Mitchell says. “This simple practice can contribute to healthier eating habits and stronger family bonds.”

Move Together as a Family

Physical activity is crucial for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but it doesn’t have to feel like a chore. Turn movement into a family affair! Whether it’s a formal workout session or an impromptu dance party in the living room, the key is to make it fun and enjoyable.

Chavez-Mitchell shares that when physical activity feels like play, everyone is more likely to participate. Plus, you’ll be setting a positive example for your children, emphasizing the importance of staying active.

“It becomes a positive experience that the whole family looks forward to," she says. “From weekend walks to evening bike rides, incorporating regular physical activity into your family's routine can improve everyone's fitness levels and create lasting memories.” Getting some outdoor time is also very beneficial for children and parents alike. 

Avoid Weight Talk

Chavez-Mitchell reminds caregivers that discussing weight can have unintended consequences, especially with children. Focusing too much on weight can lead to low self-esteem and unhealthy behaviors, potentially contributing to eating disorders.

She also recommends instead of focusing on numbers, shift the conversation to healthy habits.

"You can talk about how prioritizing well-being can make you feel better, both physically and mentally,” says Chavez-Mitchell. “Explain how healthy foods serve as fuel in our bodies, and staying active makes us feel stronger and more energetic."

This positive approach helps children develop a healthier relationship with their bodies and food, which can promote a positive body image and reduce the risk of unhealthy behaviors.

Celebrate Healthy Choices

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool. When your child makes a healthy decision—whether it’s choosing an apple over chips or joining you on a bike ride—celebrate it! Acknowledge their efforts and praise their choices. This encouragement reinforces good habits and encourages consistency.

“Positive reinforcement builds their confidence and encourages a lasting commitment to health," Chavez-Mitchell says.

Snacks: Mini-Meals, Max Nutrition

Snacking doesn’t have to mean mindless munching. Snacks play a significant role in a child’s diet and should be treated with the same importance as meals.

“Treat snacks like mini-meals by including a protein source (like yogurt, nuts, or cheese) along with fruits or vegetables,” Chavez-Mitchell says. “This balanced approach keeps energy levels stable throughout the day and prevents overindulgence. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to introduce different food options to your family.”

Incorporating these habits into your family’s routine can help set the foundation for a lifetime of wellness. By encouraging screen-free meals, moving together in fun ways, avoiding negative talk about weight, praising healthy decisions, and treating snacks as mini-meals, you create a supportive environment that promotes health and happiness for everyone. The journey to a healthier lifestyle is a family affair, and every positive step counts.

To learn more about helping your child thrive, find an Atrium Health Levine Children’s pediatrician near you.