7 ways kids can make you healthier

Stressed and overworked? Take lessons from the kids to improve balance in your life

7 ways kids can make you healthier

Source: Web exclusive: August 2010

Sometimes thinking like a kid is the best way to sail through the gamut of grown-up challenges parenting throws your way. From getting fit to maintaining your emotional balance, acting childish is often the best way to go. Here are 7 ways that emulating your kids may make you healthier and happier.

1. Eating toddler treats can help trim that muffin top

It’s true! Eating the same healthy snacks as your toddler can help you trim down. Frozen grape halves and icy banana-on-a-stick combine vitamins and fibre’with a lot less fat than a frappuccino.

And while non-fat yogurt is de rigueur with many new-mums, opting for your toddler’s reduced-fat yogurt may be better in the long run. ‘If 2% fat yogurt’s eaten on its own, the 2.5 to 3 grams of fat (about 1/2 a teaspoon) will take a little longer to digest, helping you feel full longer,’ says Mary Bamford, a Toronto-based registered dietitian with the Newtopia weight-loss clinic.

2. Child’s play reminds you fitness should be fun

Whether it’s chasing butterflies, playing tag or body surfing, when left to their own devices, kids will burn off calories in ways that are fun, fun, fun! That’s why they don’t get bored playing. Similarly, adults should find workouts that are f-u-n’there’s no stronger motivation out there.

3. Toddlers and preschoolers recover and then keep going

If it’s been a while since we’ve worked out, we adults can come up with a lot of reasons why we can’t get back to our regimen. Too tired. Out-of-style workout gear. Cross-trainers got dirty’ Little kids, on the other hand, have a resiliency we’d do well to adopt. When they fall on their butts, they cry’and then get back up and start moving again.

4. Little kids know how to say no. No! NO!!!

Your brother asks you to babysit his kids again’even though it’s the third time this month and he has yet to reciprocate. Your colleague shows up at your desk with home-baked double-fudge cookies she wants you to try. Your supervisor thinks you’d be the perfect person to organize the company holiday party.

Make like a toddler and shout after us: ‘No! No! No!’

Okay, maybe a tantrum isn’t the best route, but there’s no reason ‘I’m sorry, but I’m overextended as it is,’ ‘You’re sweet, but no thanks’ or ‘Maybe another time’ can’t work. If ‘no’ is going to help you maintain your emotional equilibrium’or diet’then say it.

5. Kids are experts at the timeout; you can be, too

Karyn Hood, a clinical psychologist also at Newtopia, suggests, ‘Take a brain break. People often find that focus and productivity improve once they return to a task after a brief reprieve’with renewed determination and increased energy to tackle the rest of the day.’

If you’re about to lose it after spending hours on the same spreadsheet’or hanging out with a grouchy baby’remove yourself from the source of stress.

At work, go for a walk or grab a java. At home, find responsible childcare so you can get a one-hour break. Look for a community centre offering parent relief services, work out at a gym with onsite childcare, or see if a relative or friend can pop by for a bit so you can take a breather.

6. Kids know messy = fun

Kids know having fun is more important than staying mess-free. Chances are, your personal trainer and family doctor would prefer that you (and your kids) prioritize gut-busting, calorie-burning, stress-erasing outdoor fun over staying neat and tidy, too.

7. Kids ‘get’ portion control. Adults need to learn it. Badly

Kids eat until they’re full. Many adults, on the other hand, eat until their plates are clean. And with today’s outsize restaurant portions skewing perceptions of correct portion sizes, that’s a problem. So why not eat like a kid instead? Graze until you’re about 90% full, then stop. You’ll be amazed at how much healthier you feel.

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