How Can Families Be Healthier?

Involving the whole family is the best way to promote better eating habits and healthy activities for your kids.

A whole-family approach simply means that everyone — parents and kids alike — works together as a team to achieve good health and well being. As with any team, there's a leader or coach — and that's you!

  • Lead by example. Adult family members are important role models for healthy eating and exercise. Talk about why you eat fruit as a snack, take an exercise class, or go for walks.
  • Start 'em young. Don't wait until your child is at an unhealthy weight to institute good eating and activity habits. It's much easier to maintain a healthy weight than to lose pounds later.
  • Be active together. Make it usual for the family to be active, not sedentary. Being active as a family allows kids to expend energy in a positive way, and adults get the health benefits, too.
  • Cook together. It may not be possible to do it every day, but invite kids into the process of preparing food. Little kids can learn math skills by measuring and they'll begin to understand the chemistry of cooking. They'll also gain an understanding of healthy ingredients.

    Older kids will enjoy having the authority to choose and prepare foods they like and will be more likely to eat what they've made. It might even inspire them to make healthy choices on their own.
  • Eat together. Eating a meal as a family sends the right messages about nutrition. Kids will see their parents eating healthy food and may want to try new foods. They'll also see mealtime as a time for socializing and sharing. Parents get a chance to offer nutritious food, note their kids' likes and dislikes, and talk about daily triumphs and troubles.

Family Goals Chart

If you're trying to build healthier family habits, a goal chart is a good way to keep score. A chart, posted on the refrigerator or other highly visible spot, can remind family members to pay attention to eating and exercise habits.

Choose family goals, such as exercising every day and eating fruits and vegetables. Keep track of and praise those who meets their goals. And when the whole family achieves the goals, do something fun together to celebrate.

Related Resources

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
    The USDA works to enhance the quality of life for people by supporting the production of agriculture.
  • American Academy of Family Physicians
    This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.
  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
    Offering nutrition information, resources, and access to registered dietitians.
  • American Council on Exercise (ACE)
    ACE promotes active, healthy lifestyles by setting certification and education standards for fitness instructors and through ongoing public education about the importance of exercise.
  • ChooseMyPlate.gov
    ChooseMyPlate.gov provides practical information on how to follow the U.S. government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It includes resources and tools to help families lead healthier lives.