A healthy family lifestyle always begins with a disease free lifestyle. A hundred years ago, people succumbed to communicable diseases like small pox, cholera, malaria, dysentery, tuberculosis etc. To a large extent, these diseases are well under control today if not totally eliminated from the face of the earth, thanks to advances in scientific research. Nowadays, we are plagued with different diseases. The world is plagued with modern diseases like AIDS, obesity, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases etc. Here are some alarming statistics:
o Cardiovascular diseases and stroke claim almost 18 million lives a year worldwide
o 750 million people worldwide are overweight of which 300 million are obese. Obesity is a more serious form of overweight and has been classified as a chronic disease
o This year about 547,000 Americans will die of cancer. Globally, approximately 7.6 million people die from cancer each year
o According to the American Diabetes Association, Type 2 diabetes grows annually at a rate of 5% since 1990
Prevention is better than cure. Healthy family lifestyle will mitigate many health risks only if you are aware of what is at stake. Educate your family about the diseases, and what they must do to prevent them.
Role of parents as role models: Children often look up to their parents as role models. Parents can influence children to a large extent to make a good start in life by inculcating in them good values. A healthy family lifestyle is a good starting point. It will instill in them the right values that they can pass on to their own families in future.
Healthy family lifestyle will require attention to the following areas:
1. Foods: Fundamentally important to healthy family lifestyle are foods and diets we ingest daily. It is a well known medical fact that foods have a very large role to play in the state of our health. Educate your family about good and bad food habits, but what better education there is than providing wholesome and nutritious foods for the family as a starting point. For example:
o Eating a balanced diet is important for the heart as well as making sure your family gets all the nutrients they need to grow.
o Avoid or reduce the intake of certain foods for example fast foods; these are often loaded with fats, salt and sugar and low in complex carbohydrates.
o Eating more plant based foods like fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes.
o Reducing sugar intake and avoid sugary drinks, salt and salt related food products like preserved meats (bacon, ham)
2. Maintaining right body weight: This is the single most important factor in maintaining a healthy family lifestyle. Many dreaded diseases owe their origins to overweight and obesity. Foremost among them are Type 2 diabetes, thyroid problem, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and many types of cancer. The importance of maintaining a healthy body weight can never be over-emphasized enough.
3. Exercise: Impress upon the importance of exercise. It is highly recommended for all of us to have half an hour of vigorous exercise or one hour of less vigorous exercise a day. Set a good example by doing it yourself. Lead a more physically active lifestyle and get the whole family involved. Get the children to play less computer games and more outdoor sports. Lead by example; don’t be a couch potato yourself! Do everything together the healthy family lifestyle way.
4. Smoking: Quit smoking. Cigarettes are known to be a leading cause for lung cancer and a host of other serious ailments. Besides, you don’t want your family exposed to second hand smoke, do you? Educate your children about the dangers of tobacco.