Helping your children develop good eating habits early on will help them set good habits for life.
Helping your children develop good eating habits early on will help them set good habits for life. jacoblund

Good health habits lead to fewer struggles in life

LIVING NATURALLY with Olwen Anderson

WE'RE just oversized kiddies, really. Although we've outgrown our toddler-size pyjamas, relocated that favourite stuffed bear to a cupboard, and swapped our school case for a briefcase, some elements of childhood stay with us.

One is that we just have to keep on managing ourselves away from bad habits.

Your parents and teachers knew: without a routine, regular meals, time to run around, quiet time, room for play and regular sleep time you'd become difficult to manage.

They would be even busier than they already were just trying to manage you; and what parent wants to add to their workload?

They knew that good lifestyle habits weren't something you were born with; you had to develop them.

So they put you to bed at the same time each night, hid the lolly jar, and made you show up for physical education classes and group sports. It was a big job, and they had to constantly reinforce the good habits so they stuck and you didn't slide into bad habits.

As you grew up responsibility for your self-management was gradually shifted from your parents to you.

By the time you left home you were expected to put yourself to bed and ensure you get up in time to catch the bus to work. You became the person responsible for eating well. Beyond high school, regular physical exercise wasn't automatically scheduled into your day, but had become something you had to make happen. Now you had to manage yourself.

Ideally, you've maintained many good health habits and developed even more. Many of them are probably unconscious, happening without a struggle.

And when life gets busy it's these routines and unconscious habits that will support your well-being.

For example, if you don't maintain the habit of getting to bed early enough for a solid sleep, and instead allow yourself to stay up surfing social media, then you know you'll be as grumpy as any over-tired toddler the next day.

Let yourself loose to eat fast food and soft drink every day and you know the long term outcome won't be pretty. And neglecting to exercise?

You know countless health benefits emerge from movement.

Keeping your habits and routines on track takes life-long energy and effort. But if you continue to manage yourself through pursuing the helpful good habits and routines, you'll probably struggle less to stay healthy and enjoy your life more.

Olwen Anderson is a naturopath and counsellor.