Tips for getting your kids to eat better, move more

Family Health, Fitness
May 21, 2024

Don’t overcomplicate it. Exercise doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym and workout for 45 minutes every day. Throughout your day you can add in movement when you think about it, says our Bē Health & Well-Being Navigator Sarah Hanson.

School is out and Memorial Day is just around the corner. Summer is officially here. So what are your plans? We have a suggestion for families: Get moving.

Many kids may fall into the trap of sitting around the house on their electronics and eating foods that really don’t support their bodies’ positive growth; encouraging your kids to practice healthy habits at a young age is something they may carry with them throughout their lifetime.

“Your body is not meant to sit all day. It’s meant to move,” says Sarah Hanson, Bē Health & Well-Being® navigator at the St. Joseph’s/Candler Richmond Hill Campus at Heartwood. Hanson is certified in teaching children’s yoga/mindfulness and is a mother of two. “When you are sitting, you are increasing your risk for heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, back/neck pain and other orthopedic issues.”

Sarah Hanson, Be Health navigator

Encouraging healthy habits in your child is one of the best things a parent can do to try to guarantee a healthier life for them. Physical activity and a well-balanced diet can assist in the prevention of heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Being active will help both kids and adults have healthier weights, less excess fat and stronger muscles and bones – not to mention better self-esteem and less stress.

“For me, the mental component achieved by an active lifestyle is just as important, if not more, as the physical benefits” Hanson says. “I also believe that proper nutrition is incredibly important as not only are we feeding our body for optimal output but we’re also feeding our brain.  Foods really dictate how we feel and how we feel really dictates how we move.”

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends kids ages 17 and under get at least 60 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Adults should aim for 150 minutes a week.

One of the best ways to meet those goals? Work on them as a family.

“Be a role model for your kids in all areas possible,” Hanson encourages. “You don’t have to overcomplicate it. We think exercise means you have to go to the gym and workout for 45 minutes every day. That’s not true. Throughout your day you can add in movement when you think about it, you can park in the back at stores, walk to the bathroom furthest from you, put down your electronics and take a walk around the block or do five squats every hour. The opportunities are endless when you think about it.  Something I try to implement daily is simply, ‘Eat better and move more.’”

Need help getting the kids off the electronics and into exercising or eating better? Here are some tips:

  1. Group/family activities. It’s oftentimes easier and encouraging for everyone to do activities as a group. Hanson suggests instead of sitting around the television after dinner, take a family walk or even play a family game. Schedule time, actually put it on a calendar, for activities that move your body.  When it’s written down and all are aware you’re more likely to do it.
  2. Get active outside. Many kids love their electronics, including her own, Hanson admits, but it’s important to set time limits and encourage your children to get up or outside and move. You’d be amazed at what kids can come up with to play when they have no other options, Hanson says. This is another area we can be a role model for our kids, get off of our screens and get outside. Hanson also encourages enrolling your kids in extracurricular activities when it works for your family. 
  3. Increase their chores. It may not be a popular suggestion with your kids, but getting the kids involved with chores not only gets them moving but teaches them responsibility. Hanson encourages parents to also hold their children accountable and remember, “You’re in charge.”
  4. Get them involved with meals. In addition to having them help prepare meals and snacks, Hanson encourages parents to be the taste setter and try new foods. You may have to have a backup plan, but encourage them to try at least a few bites of something new. And, whenever possible ditch electronics for dinner and sit down together as a family to eat. Research shows that when we watch electronics while we eat we lose sight of satiety signals and may overeat. We generally won’t savor the joy of our food, and may lower your metabolic rate and cause indigestion.
  5. Find ways to motivate them. Some kids may need motivation, especially if exercising or eating better is new to them, Hanson says. “If you need that motivation to get started, there’s nothing wrong with that. I know many adults that need motivation; it’s no different with our kids. Find what works for you and your family and make it happen.”

“Good nutrition and physical activity are very important building blocks for strong growth, healthy development and lifelong well-being for our children,” Hanson says. “When you start healthy habits young, it’s more likely those habits will continue with you as an adult.”

Hanson acknowledges it’s not always easy. We live in a very fast paced environment, always on the go where convenience generally plays a huge factor for us. As parents, we are dealing with our child’s peer pressure at school, fast-food opportunities on every corner, increasing social life just to mention a few, but being an advocate for a healthy lifestyle now while making it a family affair can really go a long way toward building lifelong habits together. 

Get moving this summer with our Bē Health Kid’s Camps. Children will participate in children’s yoga, mindfulness activities and trail walks, Generation POUND and other summer-related activities including a nutritional section in preparation of an afternoon snack. The camps are designed to help children, ages 5-12, gain a better understanding of health and well-being through group Fitness, Mindfulness and Nutrition FUN.

Summer camp dates are June 17-21 and July 15-19. Drop off starts at 8:30 a.m. at The Outfitters at Heartwood in Richmond Hill. The cost is $35 per day/per child. You can register through the Bē Health app available for download here or email


How can we help you?