Good Habits for Life is a part of the Healthy Weight Initiative, the ACT Government’s commitment to supporting a healthy, active and productive community.
In the ACT, over 63% of adults and around one quarter of children are overweight or obese (Source: Chief Health Officer Report 2016).
We know this increases risk of chronic disease such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. It’s never too late to do something about it though.
If we address this high rate amongst children, we’ll be setting in place real change.
We all know kids copy the behaviour of the adults around them – after all, it’s how they learn.
Good Habits for Life is all about taking some simple steps to healthier eating, being active and being connected to the people around us. You’ll be encouraging good habits in your kids – good habits that will stay with them for life.
Everyone knows that eating the right foods is important. Healthy foods leave you feeling good, give you more energy – and if that wasn’t enough, they can protect you against chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers, too.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the information out there about how you and your family can eat well.
But a healthier lifestyle doesn’t have to mean a complete diet overhaul. Small, simple changes to your lifestyle – such as planning what you eat and reducing the size of your meals – can make a big difference over time, helping you feel good, stay healthy and maintain a healthy body weight.
To get your family on the road to healthy eating habits, drink plenty of tap water and eat from a wide variety of these foods each day:
•Plenty of vegies, including different types and colours, and legumes/beans
•Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties, such as breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley
•Lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans
•Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives, mostly reduced fat (reduced fat milks are not suitable for children under the age of 2 years).
Foods which contain saturated fat, added salt and added sugar – which can easily lead to unwanted weight gain – should be only eaten sometimes.
You can read more on this subject in the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, developed by the Federal Government Department of Health – you’ll find it at eatforhealth.gov.au
Sitting less and moving more every day is vital for your family’s health – and it’s a great excuse to have some great times together. There are lots of fun, easy and free ways for you and your family to get moving.
You can start slowly and gradually increase the amount you do. Consult your GP or health professional for advice on the best types of physical activity for you and your family. If you’re not currently doing any physical activity, you can ease yourself into it by breaking up your exercise into smaller, more manageable sessions, or you can do it Or you can choose to do it all at once but
Moving more and sitting less will:
•reduce your risk of, or help manage, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers
•help you feel good and look good, and
•build strong muscles and bones.
From the age of around five until we’re in our 60s, we should be accumulating at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Check out the guidelines for what is recommended for your age.
When you and your family are physically active you’ll feel better, sleep better and will find the task of managing your weight to be much easier. And of course, being active is a whole lot of fun!
If you want to read more on the National Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines, released by the Federal Government Department of Health, you can visit their website.
When you make time to play together as a family, visit friends or make new ones, or just get out there and be part of the community, you and your kids will get a lot more out of life. This kind of approach to life will do wonders for your family’s health and wellbeing, and along the way the kids will learn valuable social skills for their lives ahead.
We all know that being physically active is great for your kid’s health and physical skills. But evidence shows there’s more to it than that. Moving more can also improve their general wellbeing, and even their academic performance. It creates opportunities for making new friends and developing all important social skills.
So encourage your family to get away from the television, computer or mobile screens and get into life. Your children will benefit more from talking, singing, reading, listening to music or playing with a family member or a friend.
On 30 March 2016 the Assistant Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris launched the Sugar Swap Challenge. Part of the Good Habits for Life campaign, the challenge encouraged Canberra families to swap sugary cereals, snacks and drinks for healthier options over the month of April. By registering for the Sugar Swap Challenge, families were able to access tools and ideas that support healthier choices. The Sugar Swap Challenge has finished for now, but you can still check out some of the tools on the Resources page. You can also play the fun Sugar Swap Memory Challenge game to help you and your family swap sugary food and drinks for healthier options.