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Learning the importance of healthy cooking, nutrition, fitness, and overall wellness is not only important for us parents to practice, but also extremely important to teach our children. The sooner we implement healthy habits into the family, the better. Parents have the responsibility of being role models for their children so that they too can pass these healthy habits to their children and generations to come.

Mighty Mama Danielle Formaro dishes out her favorite "Family & Fitness" tips to keep you and your family healthy and happy for our 85th Healthier Habits campaign! Watch her video and read her tips to learn how you too, can make simple changes for a healthier lifestyle.

1. Incorporate Healthy Food Substitutes into Your Meal Planning.

Some of my favorite alternative sweeteners for baked goods include Goya organic raw honey, applesauce, organic maple syrup, Goya blue agave nectar, and coconut sugar. Another healthy substitution is to try replacing white flour with more wholesome flour such as almond flour, coconut flour, whole wheat flour, or Goya chickpea flour. These whole grain flours contain nutrients, fiber, and healthy compounds naturally and are great for your digestive health.

Incorporate Healthy Food

2. Teach Your Children the Importance of Nutrition at an Early Age.

Some of my favorite ways to do this would be to explain the importance of foods and how they help our bodies, show them what a healthy meal looks like and make it a routine. Teach them about portion sizes, and lastly, be a role model each day so they see this as a routine behavior.

3. Take Time to Meal Prep.

I like to create a “Grab and Go” concept in my house. We are most likely to grab an unhealthy or unbalanced meal when we are hungry and do not have the patience or time to cook at that moment. The Sunday before your workweek I recommend batching two proteins, three vegetables, and two whole grains and keeping them in large containers in the refrigerator. This way when you are hungry, you can easily create a balanced plate in seconds through the week.

Incorporate Healthy Food
Be active as a family

4. Reward Your Children with an Activity and Not with Foods.

Medical professionals suggest adults avoid using food or cooking as a reward for children. Research shows that many teens and adults who experience stress, sadness, depression, anxiety, etc. tend to overeat or reach for unhealthy food options that they remember from childhood to help them feel better. Experts say using things like physical activities and crafts are better rewards. Some ideas would be planning a special trip or a favorite outing such as the zoo, police or fire station, library, or a movie. You can also do even more simple rewards such as letting them get some new school supplies, extra reading time before bed, or perhaps letting them have a sleepover with a favorite friend.

5. Plan Ahead to Help Manage Your Time.

Time management can be a simple task if you have a system. For me, it is a three-step process. First, you will want to make a master list of all tasks, big or small for the entire month. Next, you will then break it down by week, then by day of the week. The last step is to make a daily checklist of when you will get each task done during that specific day. The biggest tip with this is to be realistic about how long each task will take, and how to break down larger goals into smaller parts to efficiently schedule them into your daily checklist.

6. Stay motivated.

Motivation is a scientific equation. The first step is to reshape your belief system into a positive mindset. Once you feel positive about something you will have good feelings about what you want to do. These feelings turn into actions. Actions then produce results and results are what start to create a lifestyle of that wonderful habit.

7. Be active as a family.

Pick activities you and your family can enjoy together! Keep it fun and you’ll be more likely to stick with it as a family. Some recommended activities to stay active are going to the beach, camping, picnics at a favorite playground, riding bikes, going for a nature walk with a scavenger hunt, or going fishing.

Be active as a family

8. Eat Together as a Family.

Turn off all electronics at mealtime. In a recent Columbia University study, 71% of teenagers said they consider talking, catching up, and spending time with family members as the best part of family dinners. A report by CASA found that teens who have between five and seven family dinners per week were twice as likely to report receiving mostly A’s and B’s in school. Another research examining 5,000 teenagers has shown that when children eat with their parents regularly, they are more likely to be emotionally strong and have better mental health.

Eat together as a family

9. Create Healthy Eating Habits at Home.

Enforce a rule that food must be eaten in the kitchen at a designated table rather than the living room or couch. This prevents the bad habit of binge eating while watching TV which is a major contributor to obesity.

10. Save Time In the Kitchen by Purchasing Frozen Items or Slow Cooking.

Frozen vegetables are already cleaned and prepped for you which will be a time saver. Slow cooker meals often have fewer ingredients and are low maintenance which means you can get your checklist done without fear of burning your roast.

Eat together as a family
Build a garden with your family

11. Build a Garden with Your Family.

Not only is this a great activity to get the kids outside, but teaching them skills of cause and effect can help build their appreciation for fresh fruits and vegetables.

Build a garden with your family

12. Teach Your Family The Importance of Hydration.

Clinical studies have shown that 37% of people mistake hunger pains for thirst. To understand how much water you should consume in a day, take your weight, divide it by 2. This will be how many ounces of water you should drink a day. Goya Coconut Water is a great beverage to stay hydrated!

13. Prepare More Home Cooked Meals.

The average restaurant meal has as much as 60% more calories than a homemade meal because there are more options to choose from and the portions are often a lot larger.

Danielle Formaro
Mighty Mamma, LLC