We all want our kids to grow up eating nutritiously, getting plenty of exercise, and having a good outlook on life. How can you make that happen? Live healthfully yourself! You are a powerful influence on your children. If they see you "walking the talk" instead of just telling them what they should do, there's a great chance they'll grow up copying your good behaviors. Here's how you can instill in them the knowledge to take care of themselves, now and in years to come:

  • Eat together. Making family mealtimes a priority is key, according to the American Dietetic Association. You don't have to eat all three meals together, or even dinner if your evening schedules are tight-breakfast or lunch will do fine. But make sure you're eating quality foods. Plan your meals in advance, perhaps with some input from your kids, and enjoy cooking and eating together. This will go a long way toward reducing your kids' tendencies to grab fast food and other junky snacks.
  • Be flexible. Speaking of fast food and junky snacks....don't ban them completely. This strategy can backfire, leaving your kids craving the things they're denied at home and making them overly focused on food. One or two less healthy items on the pantry shelves can serve as a reminder that no one is perfect-and that a small treat once in awhile, or even once a day, is okay. Just remember to keep offering healthy snacks such as fruit, and don't dangle junk food as a reward.
  • Lace up your sneakers. If you end up vegging out in front of the TV at the end of every day, how can you expect anything different from your children? Leave the dishes in the sink, and go for a walk together. It doesn't have to be far, but try to make it interesting. Have a contest to see who can skip the longest, or have your kids race to the nearest lamppost. At the playground, join in the fun by trying your hand on the monkey bars or climbing the slide. Buy inexpensive bicycles with baskets, and pedal to the supermarket for your dinner fixings. Just keep moving.
  • Nurture your relationships. Our health isn't all about what we eat and how we move. Emotional health is a vital part of our overall well-being. Show your children the proper way to treat others by listening carefully. Show you care by hugging, kissing, and telling them you love them. Allow them to get angry when it's warranted, but help them understand appropriate ways to deal with their anger and live respectfully and peacefully.