Being A Healthy Family

Hi, everybody!  I’ve been asked to give a talk in 2 weeks at the Broadview Heights Health Fair about raising a healthy family.  As I started to prepare for it, I realized I have a great audience to help me make the best presentation possible!

This week and next I’m using my blog as a sounding board to prepare my talk.  I really need you to give me feedback!  Is there something I’m not discussing that you want to hear about, regarding staying healthy as a family?  Should I scrap something?  Let me know!

I think everybody agrees that for the most part Americans are pretty unhealthy.  Right?  Two-thirds of us are overweight or obese, almost 10% of us have diabetes (and among the over-65 crowd about 25% of us have diabetes).  Among the top 10 causes of death are heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, chronic lung disease and suicide, all of which are largely preventable.  It’s estimated that about 90% of illness in the United States is preventable.

Raise your hand if you’re a parent of kids under 18.  Yep mine’s up too.  Raise your hand if you’re confident you are raising your kids to be healthy.  Hey where’d all the hands go?!  Raising kids is hard!  There’s so much information and advice out there, it’s hard to know what to trust.

Today I’m going to keep it simple, and avoid throwing a lot of numbers at you.  These are broad concepts we’re going to talk about.  After all, being healthy shouldn’t be rocket science, right?  It should be easy for even a child to understand.

First let’s talk about the most important choice you need to make about your body and it’s health.  Can anyone guess what that might be?  (Pause for guesses)

That’s right.  The most important choice you need to make is what to put inside it.  Your diet affects every part of your health.  The scientific research about the effect of diet on your body is just exploding and some of it can be pretty confusing but I want to outline some broad concepts that even your kids will understand.

First of all, food should be fun!



And it should taste good.  Healthy food can be fun and tasty too.



Everyone should be involved with food!



Food shouldn’t be complicated.  Read ingredient lists.  If you don’t recognize it, don’t eat it.  Don’t eat food that isn’t food.  There’s a display in Iceland of the last McDonald’s cheeseburger and fries meal sold in the nation.



Sold in 2009.  Still looks pretty much the same.  There’s a YouTube video.  Sorry, that’s not food.  If mold won’t eat it, you shouldn’t either.

I’ve written a lot about diet over the last almost-3 years blogging.  I have 4 simple rules that cover most of it:

  1. Eat real food, not fake food or food that’s got a lot of unrecognizable chemicals in it.
  2. Eat mostly plants.  There’s lots of research that the healthiest people on the planet eat meat rarely, like a few times per month, and only on special occasions.
  3. Eat organic if you can.  The way we grow food in this country is nuts.  Pesticides are found in breast milk and urine samples.  A family in Sweden switched to organic food for 2 weeks.  Here’s what happened.  Little is known about what pesticides do to humans, and most of what we do know isn’t good.
  4. Don’t eat too much.  Obesity is a huge (pun intended) problem in the US.  Watch your portions.

The second lifestyle area I want to discuss with you is fitness.  Note I don’t say exercise.  Exercise is part of it, but not all of it.

Fitness is moving your body in a way that you enjoy.  I love yoga, and I love to run and to dance.  Not that I’m particularly good at any of them, and I’m not offering to demonstrate, but I love them.  I USED to like to swim but as I get older I have found I don’t enjoy being cold and wet.  So I don’t swim for fitness anymore.

How do you like to move your body?  Do you play a sport?

How do your kids like to move their bodies?  Here’s a hint.



They play!  They run, chase, jump, fall down, roll around, and get up to do it all over again.  They might ride a bike, scooter or roller skate.  They might play a sport (but they might not).  The key is helping them find a way to move their bodies that they love and WANT to do.  We want fitness to be fun and a lifelong thing.

The best form of fitness is something the whole family can do together.  My family studies martial arts together.  Make fitness something you all look forward to and it will integrate itself into your kids’ lives forever.

Next week I will discuss two more areas to focus on to help your family be healthy not just physically but emotionally/spiritually as well, and also to help your kids grow up with skills to make good choices all their lives.

QUESTION:  What do you think so far?  Got a suggestion?



7 thoughts on “Being A Healthy Family

  1. Great article! I was wondering since you said we should be eating mostly plants….is that still true even if we cannot afford to buy organic? We have very limited income and get some of our produce with WIC coupons. Those coupons forbid you from buying organic so we have no choice in it. Even if we can’t buy organic should we still eat mostly plants? Thanks for your input!

    • First of all, I’m shocked that WIC coupons can’t be used for organic produce. Second, if you think about it, how much plant food goes into making an 8-ounce steak? You can get that same nutrition eating plants, eating a lot LESS plants. It’s better for the environment and much better for you. Unless you buy organic meat and dairy, the pesticides that were on the plants fed to the animal whose meat and milk you’re consuming will leave residues. And animal-based foods increase inflammation in the body. So yes, even if you can’t buy organic you should still eat mostly plant foods.

  2. I love reading your blog Dr. Wurst! I try to make sure my family and I eat right and make healthy choices, but sometimes it’s challenging when certain family members have unhealthy habits. For instance, my husband is a smoker, (he quit for a short time but fell back into the habit) and loves sugar, way too much. I can’t really force him to quit, and it know I sound like I’m nagging him if I bring it up all the time. How can I encourage him to get healthy, not just for himself, but to set a good example for our kids?

    • Ask him lots of questions, Lindsay. If quitting isn’t important to him, make sure periodically (not nagging) to remind him that it’s important to you and for the kids’ health. Guilt is OK, LOL! Ask him how he’ll feel when Michael starts smoking in a few years. After all, if his son idolizes him (which I know he does) he won’t have any moral high ground to stand on to tell Michael not to smoke. If he quits, Michael will see first-hand how difficult it is and will be much less likely to start when he’s a teen. As far as sugar goes, make sure to have healthy snacks like fruit in the house, and try not to buy the junk. Wait until this week, I’ll discuss the parenting part of it 🙂

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