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Habits to Maintain for a Healthy Family

Curious how families stay so fit and thin? Dr. Oz for has put together a few of his tips on how to build a healthy family strategy. Dr. Oz says families that make healthy lifestyle choices together, stay healthy together. Here's his game plan for your family.

Don’t Go Hungry. To stay at a healthy weight, you have to eat, not starve yourself. “If you don’t fuel up regularly, you’ll become insatiably hungry, causing the ‘hunger’ hormone, ghrelin, to spike,” Dr. Oz says. “The problem is that it takes a half-hour for that hormone to return to normal once you start to eat, but in that 30 minutes you’ll likely chow through many more calories than if you hadn’t eaten on an empty stomach.” Dr. Oz keeps nutritious and filling almonds on hand.

Automate Breakfast and Lunch. Without a healthy go-to option for each meal, you’re far more likely to make bad instant gratification grabs. Having a staple of one or two healthy “usuals” makes grocery shopping easier. “You don’t want to reinvent the wheel every day,” says Dr. Oz, who starts each day with a bowl of steel-cut oatmeal with flaxseed oil, a few walnuts, and some raisins or agave for sweetness. For lunch, Dr. Oz recommends a vegetable-based soup like tomato soup, or a tuna sandwich on whole-grain bread. For the children, you can make a reinvent the typical PBJ sandwich; since the jelly is all sugar, using less jelly or turning it into a plain PB sandwich with a piece of fruit is a good substitute.

Exercise for 20 minutes a day—at home. Why stay at home? “If you have to go somewhere to exercise, you’re automatically going to need more than 20 minutes, and it violates the flow of your day,” Dr. Oz says. “An hour is a long time; 20 minutes is nothing.” Keeping your daily workout goal short and convenient works, he explains, because none of us want to admit that our lives are so disorganized that we can’t carve out 20 quick minutes. “What we find is that if we tell people to do 20 minutes, they enjoy it and end up doing more than 20 minutes,” which is even better for your heart, Dr. Oz stresses. Simple ideas that work: Skip rope in your driveway, and alternate with crunches and push-ups; do 20 minutes of a workout video; or even walk in your neighbourhood.

Be the food decider in your house. “I know this can be tough for parents, but the big decisions about what to eat must be made by you at the supermarket,” Dr. Oz says. Here’s why: If you bring chips and cookies home, your kids (as well as yourself) will naturally want to eat them. If you try to restrict them, you’ll actually cause your child to crave them more. But if you don’t buy the sweets to begin with, kids won’t even miss them, Dr. Oz promises. Keep good and healthy snacks on hand like nuts, pretzels, fruit, and veggies washed and chopped in your fridge. “Kids will eat healthy snacks when they get hungry enough,” Dr. Oz says.

Eat dinner together every night. . This simple ritual improves not just kids’ eating habits but their grades and willingness to open up to you, too. “I can talk about the importance of nutrients for good health all day. But studies show that if you want your kids to have an appreciation of how precious their bodies are, you can’t beat just sitting down together,” Dr. Oz says. “When families come together to eat, they create an emotional harmony that I think is pretty sacred for long-term health.” If dinner doesn’t work, turn breakfast into your family sit-down instead.

Play Together Every Day. Just like with exercising at home for 20 minutes, the key is to carve out a reliable pocket of time when you can actually get active as a family. “In our house, we put on 50 Cent and the kids bop around,” Dr. Oz says. “It’s our very own dance party.” Working up a sweat together is an anti-aging move, too: Using your mind to activate your muscles, either to dance or catch a ball, is one of the best ways to keep yourself young,” Dr. Oz says. Play a pick-up game of soccer, have a dance party, or shoot hoops after dinner.

Let your children police you. Talk to your kids about smart-eating goals, and encourage them to call you out if you grab junk food. “Kids love feeling empowered,” Dr. Oz says. It makes them feel like part of the solution, instead of feeling singled out as the only ones who have to follow healthy-eating rules.

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