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Being healthy is easier than you think, and these six tips can help you and your family get there.

Timberly Whitfield and her children, taken by J. Quazi King for mater mea

Establishing healthy eating habits and regular exercise patterns is essential for setting your family on the path toward a healthier lifestyle. Developing those habits can prevent the risks associated with obesity such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.” You can help your family develop good practices early—ones they can carry into adulthood—with these six tips to help get your loved ones on the right track toward healthy living.

1. Ease into it.

Start by making subtle changes to familiar recipes. Use whole wheat noodles for your pasta, low-fat dressing on salads, and fat-free milk instead of 2%. Replace processed food with fresh fruits, vegetables, and protein-rich salmon or chicken breasts.

2. Plan ahead.

Cut up apples, oranges, broccoli, carrots, and celery to store in the refrigerator. They are perfect pairs for low-fat side dishes like hummus or nut butter. .

3. Get everyone involved.

Encourage your children to share ideas for healthier eating and exercise habits. They can help come up with an activity the whole family can participate in or come along during grocery shopping trips to select the foods they want to try.

4. Lead by example.

Kids are observant. If you’re eating junk food, they’ll do the same. On the other hand, when your children see you choosing healthy foods or having a great workout, they’ll feel inclined to participate.

5. Have fun with it.

If your family enjoys the activities it takes to get healthy, they are more likely to follow through with them. Make it fun by letting your kids help cook in the kitchen and get them involved in outdoor activities like team sports.

6. Make it meaningful.

Share the benefits of making these healthy changes, such as becoming stronger and more fit. By helping your family understand the connections between their lifestyle choices and the benefits, you can help them want to make these changes for themselves.

You don’t need to put the entire family on a week-long cleanse to get them to make better health choices.

Implement small changes for lasting results.

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