Do you want to encourage your family to be more healthy?
This webpage can help you and your family take small steps to become more active, eat better and feel healthier. At the bottom of this page you will find useful links, games, apps, recipes and family monitoring worksheets.
As a parent or carer you can play an active role in helping your family make changes that will last a lifetime.
Eating habits today
Our eating habits have changed over the years, everywhere we go, whether it be the supermarket, petrol station, cinema or local leisure centre we are constantly bombarded with less healthier choices such as sugary drinks, sweets, crisps and chocolates, tempting us to eat more than our body needs. Alongside this more and more people are becoming less active, sitting for long periods of time watching tv, playing computer games or web browsing. This has led to more and more children and adults becoming overweight in recent years.
Are you concerned about your family’s weight?
- Use the Healthy Weight Calculator to check your family’s weight and follow the links to find out more about what these weights mean.
Remember children are growing and on occasions their weight may overtake their height and they need time to stay the same weight until they grow taller (into a healthier weight range.)
Important first steps
- Focus on the whole family and be a good role model.
- Review your family’s day to day routine and decide on small changes that the whole family can keep to.
- Focus on healthier family food choices.
- Make fitness fun for the whole family.
- Limit sitting time and stock up on sleep.
Focus on the whole family and be a good role model
Children feel secure and more confident at making changes when they see other family members becoming involved.
Whether you’re an adult or a child, managing your weight can be an ongoing struggle. Support and encouragement from friends and family plays a major role in the success of managing family weights.
A family based approach is best – research has shown that getting the whole family involved is key to managing your family’s weight successfully. Family support can help you stay on track and keep you focused on changes you want to make.
Parenting can be tough and challenging at times, but one way to get the best out of our children is to set a good example in the lifestyle changes we want our family to make.
Our children watch and learn from what we do and say – so ask yourself :-
- Am I acting like a good role model?
Children are more likely to keep to changes when they are taught by example rather than being faced with a list of rules for them to obey.
Setting a good example makes it easier for the whole family to keep to changes although this could be supported with some simple family rules.
- Download our Family Rules Worksheet
Review your day to day routines and plan changes
One of the best ways to get started is to come together as a family and note down your daily routines and agree one or two changes that the whole family would be happy to do.
- Download the ‘Family Change Checker’ to help get you started.
Children are happier choosing activities like playing in the park or going swimming and are less likely to want to give up treats. As a parent, take a lead on the changes agreed, you are in the best position to make sure these changes are realistic and that they will work.
Offer support and positive encouragement to your children. This will have a long lasting effect!
Things to remember when considering lifestyle changes:
- Involve the whole family when setting and working towards changes.
- Focus on one or two realistic changes at a time.
- Write down the changes you want to make and display them in a visible place – on the fridge or next to the calendar – this reminds everyone what they are working towards.
- Ensure changes are clear and specific (put dates, times and amounts next to them this will help you measure progress – Use our Change Checker Worksheet).
- Set aside time as a family to check your progress.
Remember long term lifestyle changes can be broken down into smaller more manageable steps.
Examples of family changes you could try:
- We will drink water with our evening meal instead of cola every day.
- We will go for a 20 minute walk after dinner, on 3 nights a week.
- We will eat a piece of fruit as our morning snack on 5 days a week.
- We will eat together as a family four times a week.
- We will go a family cycle for at least one hour at the weekend.
Making small, simple changes to family activity and eating habits can make a big difference.
Once your family has reached a significant goal, remember to reward yourself and your family for their efforts. Plan a family trip to the cinema or ten pin bowling, buy new trainers or buy a favourite magazine.
It’s a good idea to keep a diary of any achievements and successes. This can increase the family’s confidence that they can be healthier and manage their weight.
- Download ‘My Daily Thinking Diary’ sheet to record your feelings, achievements and thoughts.
Focus on family food choices
Get children involved in choosing healthier foods:
- Plan a family menu for the week, get your child to write the shopping list or to help you do the online shopping. Download our free Shopping List / Meal Planner Template.
- Ask your children to become involved in preparing after school snacks, packed lunches and meals – it’s a great way to spend time together.
- Try to eat together as a family even if it starts off as once a week and builds up over time – Family mealtimes are a good time to talk.
- Let your children become involved at mealtimes – ask them to help set the table and clear up.
We, as parents, often create barriers to our children helping us – not enough time, too much mess, we could do the job better and get it done quicker. Involving our children in preparing food and helping at mealtimes increases their confidence and skills to make healthier food choices throughout their life.
For inspiration and ideas for quick and easy family meals and snacks visit:
Focus on family fitness
Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for you and your family’s overall health. Not only does it help to control your weight, build strong muscles and healthy bones but research shows that being active can also boost self-esteem, improve mood and can be great fun for all the family especially when you find an activity that everyone enjoys.
Current activity recommendations:
- Children (aged 5 to 18) should try to be active for at least an hour every day. Find out more about physical activity guidelines for children and young people at NHS Choices.
- Adults should try to be active for 30 minutes on at least 5 days each week. Find out more about physical activity guidelines for adults at NHS Choices.
Remember doing something is better than nothing!
Even short bouts of 10 minutes of activities can increase fitness and help you control your weight!
Get your children to write or draw a list of activities that the whole family enjoys. Plan ahead to ensure that you, as a family, can fit these activities into your week.
- Download our Family Fitness File. This will help you keep a track on the amount of exercise you have achieved over the week.
Get Active Together!
- Being active should be fun for everyone – find an activity you enjoy whether it is skateboarding, dancing, mountain biking, football, trampoleening or swimming.
- Gradually build up the amount of activity your family is doing.
- Involve the children when gardening, sweeping the path, washing the cars or even hoovering. At the weekend plan active outings such as a walk to the park.
- Set chores for family members such as stacking the dishwasher, making the beds, taking the bins out…
- Set a good example to your child – show them that you are active and are having fun and enjoying it.
- Getting your family fit doesn’t have to break the bank. Visit NHS Choices Get Fit for Free.
- How could you and your family become more active on your journey to and from school – Watch this NHS Choices Video clip.
For more ideas on activities in your local area visit:
Remember it’s not all about losing weight, for children it’s more about keeping your weight the same as you grow. Try to be more active and don’t sit around for too long.
Limit sitting time and stock up on sleep
Children nowadays are becoming less active and are sitting longer watching TV, surfing the internet, listening to music or playing online games. Being sedentary results in an alarming number of children becoming overweight and putting their health at risk. Too much screen time can lead to a number of health related problems including weight gain and sleep problems. Visit NHS Choice – Why sitting too much is bad for your health for more information.
- Limit screen time to no more than 2 hours a day or 14 hours over the full week.
- Encourage children to get up and move around during TV adverts or after one game
- Avoid snacking when sitting in front of a screen.
Reducing screen time could be one of the changes you decide to make as a family, this is an example of where parents could take the lead as the children might not look upon this as a good change. Managed well, if substituted with a fun physical activity children will be totally on board with this.
Stock up on sleep
It is important that children get enough sleep each night, not only does sleep improve general well being, alertness at school and mood but it can also help children stay in shape. It’s been shown that children who don’t get enough sleep may be at a higher risk of becoming overweight. Parents, should try to encourage their children to get a better night’s sleep by setting a consistent bedtime, limiting caffeine drinks late in the day (coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks) and cutting out high tech distractions in the bedroom.
Visit NHS Choices for more information on children’s sleep.
Further Information (Websites)
- Activity Guidelines for children and young people
- Activity Guidelines for children under 5
- Activity Guidelines for Adults
- Child Health 6-15 years
- Cooking with Kids
- Get Active with your children
- Free Family Activities
- Involve your child in being healthy
- Overweight Children – Advice for parents
- Healthy Drinks
- Healthy Eating
- Healthy Lunchbox
- Healthy Snacks for Kids
- Healthier Takeaways
- Get healthy as a Family
- Kids in the Kitchen
- Sleep in Children
Apps and Tools
Family Worksheets (pdfs)
- Focus On Your Family Full Workbook
- My Daily Thinking Diary
- Family Change Checker
- Family Rules Worksheet
- Active Scotland
- Family Lives
- Families Online
- Food, A Fact of Life
- Let’s Get Cooking at Home
- Teen Weightwise – BDA
- Young Minds
- BDA Children Diet Behaviour Learning
- BDA Children Healthy Eating
- BDA Getting the balance Right 16+ years
- BDA Quick Cheap Easy Food
- BDA Quick Recipe Ideas
- BDA Weightwise – Getting the balance right teenagers
- BDA Weightwise Teen Packed Lunches
- BDA WeightwiseTeen Eating Out
- Get Active Your Way Everyday Resources
- Healthy Happy Kids Resources
- Focus on Your Family Postcard
- Focus on Your Family Poster
- Focus on Your Family Worksheets
Continue to work through our ‘Choose To Lose’ webpages, take control, self monitor and manage your own weight.