Do you want to raise a healthier family in 2011, but not sure where to start? Follow our 10 tips that will have your entire family looking and feeling better by this time next year.
Kids are more likely to follow your lead in actions more than talk. "The old phrase 'lead by example' works when raising a healthier family," says Jessica Spillane, owner of Jumping Frog Pilates. "I take a monthly cooking class with my two boys. It has taught them about healthy eating-- not just going for the processed junk in plastic bags. When I do yoga at home, I set up two mats for the kids to follow along. They join me on dog walks and I often walk to get them from school."
"If you are a smoker or have friends or relatives who smoke, avoid exposing your children to smoke," says Sarah Shank of Legacy, a public health organization that directs the TRUTH campaign, which is aimed at youth smoking prevention. "It is estimated that secondhand smoke exposure causes approximately 3,400 lung cancer deaths and 22,700-69,600 heart disease deaths annually among adult non-smokers in the United States," says Shank, who says that kids exposed to secondhand smoke have a higher risk of developing asthma, ear infections, cavities and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
Talk to your kids about what they are seeing in movies and on TV and make them aware of the ways certain companies, such as those sugary cereal commercials, try to influence them. Help them not buy into every product they see on TV or be influenced by the actions they see on TV, for instance smoking in movies.
"A recent federal government report concluded that smoking in movies causes youth to start smoking, and we know that smoking in youth-rated movies account for nearly 200,000 new youth smokers each year," says Shank, who says the tobacco industry spent $12.4 billion in 2006 on marketing. She suggests checking our www.scenessmoking.org to find out what movies contain smoking.
Switch out your harsh cleaners for more gentle and eco-friendly products. Marie Stegner, consumer health advocate at Maid Brigade says common household items can be used as disinfectants. "Ordinary household disinfectants contain neurological toxins that can be harmful, especially to children, pets and the elderly. Eliminate harsh chemicals from the armory of cleaning supplies built up over time and look for ecologically sound disinfectants, such as baking soda, vinegar or orange oil to replace them."
"Teflon, Silverstone and other coatings emit harmful perflourochemicals (PFCs)," says Stegner. "The EPA classifies them as carcinogens."
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