Why is it important to focus on family food and family lifestyle?
Families share hereditary factors, environmental factors and lifestyle risks, all of the three major factors which impact health of an individual. Often, children pick up the eating habits and physical activity patterns that they see in the family and people with lifestyle diseases (such as diabetes or high BP) have meals prepared for the whole family. Therefore it is important that we attempt to change our family’s food and habits for the better.
What can you do to improve and preserve your family’s health?
First important step is to assess the health condition of every member, and then manage their diet, physical activity, drugs and supplements accordingly. Below are the important steps you should take:
1. Health check up for all members as per their age/gender
Most of us believe and are even advised by doctors to get health check ups done after 40, whereas the lifestyle related diseases such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, all start much earlier than that, especially in Indian population and you will benefit from early lifestyle changes immensely. Not only that, these diseases have no characteristic symptoms that are present in all patients and silently lead to complications that can not be reversed, getting these diseases detected early and getting treatment means you can avoid the complications
In most families some family members, who have a health check-up at work, get their health check-ups done whereas others are oblivious to these needs and therefore miss the period of opportunity when knowing and therefore managing risks can mitigate chances of getting a disease
Therefore it is important that all members get age and gender appropriate health check-up done and repeat them at appropriate intervals
Talk to Dr Binita Priyambada and book a preventive health video appointment to understand your family’s health check up needs: 0731-4900900
2. Healthy family food choices and habits
a)Food Shopping in the right way
What we end up eating at home is largely influenced by what we stock our kitchen and fridge with. Therefore it is very important to plan food shopping right
- Learn to read the food label and ingredient list information and chose really healthy stuff by looking beyond the information (or misinformation) given by advertisements etc.
Check-out ‘Making healthy choices while food shopping‘
- Do not stock unhealthy food and beverages at all or buy in limited quantity
Check out ‘Tips for everyday eating for the foodie‘
- It is important to choose healthy ingredients to cook for everybody, to find out more, go to ‘Food FHI tips‘
- Choosing the right method for cooking is very important; make a shift away from deep fried stuff, use the oven and the steamer to explore healthy methods of cooking such as grilling, roasting and steaming
Serving the food correctly
This is a very important step in helping your family avoid ‘portion distortion’ and thus avoiding excess weight gain. It includes how you serve food at home and how you pack food for office
For serving at home
- Get the right portions of each food group that each of your family member should eat in a meal. Check out our ‘Food FHI Ideal diet plan ‘
- Get your mental measurements of serving sizes for different food stuff : e.g. one serving of rice means ½ cup of cooked rice. You need to understand how much rice from your usual serving spoon is equal to this quantity. Then it is easy to keep track how many servings each one should have.
- Serve food in ready portions in the plate and only keep second helpings of low calorie stuff such as salad on the table
Packing for office/tours:
- Pack not only lunch, but also healthy snacks such as fruits and nuts (in the right portion sizes, in different boxes). Also try to pack healthy drinks such as milk, chanch, coconut water etc. This will help in avoiding visits to canteen and vending machines!
- When you or a family member is going on a business trip, pack the healthy snacking options which can keep for a few days safely, such as nuts, packaged chhanch, roasted chana etc.
- People who take drugs on regular basis for diabetes etc., should keep ready a travel kit including drugs, glucometer etc., etc.
3. Exercising together
All families have some members who are interested in exercise and some that are not. It is important for families together, to find some time when all members indulge in physical activities as per their need and choice
Therefore family members should help one another get more active
Check-out ‘Exercise FHI‘ to find out more about appropriate exercise activities and precautions
4. Helping family members who have lifestyle disease
If a diabetic has just a kaju barfi in Diwali time, everybody would go ‘you should not eat that’! Often, because of lack of specific knowledge, we end up giving wrong advice to our family members. This irritates them rather than motivating them and decreases their pleasure in life
You should find out about what your loved ones should actually do, and educate and motivate them accordingly
CHECK OUT: Our references for recommendations on diet
CHECK OUT: FHI references for preventive health checks