Heart Health in the Family: How to encourage healthy eating habits for all ages

Do you find yourself worrying about the health of your family?

You’re not alone. It’s very easy to get caught up thinking about the health of your children, your partner or your parents and almost everybody does it at some stage – especially if conditions such as heart disease run in the family.

More than 7.6 million people in the UK currently have some form of heart or circulatory condition – they kill 460 Brits every day.

The good news is you can take proactive steps to reduce the risk of heart disease, even if it runs in the family.

Here are our top tips for ensuring your family has good heart health:

Start early

Instilling healthy habits early on in your children’s lives can go a long way to preventing heart disease. Encourage your kids to eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, play sports, get out for walks or runs and maintain a healthy weight. And if they can ditch the screens for at least part of the day you’ll be helping their heart health as well as their eyesight. Often these habits will extend long into adulthood and give your children the best chance of staying fit and healthy for longer.

Lead by example

As a parent, you are a role model. If your kids see you drinking lots of sugary drinks or alcohol and eating takeaways every night, don’t be surprised if that’s what they end up doing too. Make healthier choices for yourself, eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly and avoid unhealthy habits such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption and chances are your offspring will follow suit.

Make healthy eating a priority

A balanced diet is central to a healthy heart. Regularly cook fish dishes for your kids such as salmon, tuna and trout as these are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Lean meats such as skinless chicken, eggs, seeds and soy products are also good. Berries are great as they are rich in antioxidants that protect against oxidative stress and inflammation that contribute to the development of heart disease. Saturated fats including butter, cheese, lard, ghee, fatty meats and cheese should be kept to a minimum as they are linked to an elevated risk of heart and circulatory disease.

Stay active

Regular physical activity is crucial for maintaining good heart health. Encourage your family to be active for at least 30 minutes a day. This can include things like walking, cycling, swimming or playing team sports. Make it a family affair too by planning outings and activities. Exercise improves the ability of your muscles to pull oxygen out of the blood and reduces the need for the heart to pump more blood to the muscles. This brings down stress on the heart and ultimately improves its health.

Get enough sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is key for many reasons, including muscle recovery, cognitive function and good heart health. During sleep, your blood pressure drops – don’t get enough sleep and this benefit is not felt. High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of heart disease and strokes. Encourage your family to have a regular sleep routine that gets them between 7-9 hours of sleep every night. And caffeine before bed is a bad idea if you want good quality sleep.

Manage stress

Stress batters your heart. Chemical changes caused by stress can give you chest pains and make you feel faint while long-term stress can lead to plaque build-up in your arteries. Blood sugar can spike and dive while blood pressure increases, heightening your chances of  heart disease. Maintain healthy stress-releasing habits such as exercise, meditation, yoga, and time outdoors. Encourage open communication and provide a supportive environment for family members to discuss their stresses.

Quit smoking

Smoking increases the formation of plaque in blood vessels. Coronary heart disease occurs when arteries that carry blood to the heart are narrowed or blocked by clots. Smoking causes the blood to thicken and it increases the chances of clots in your veins and arteries leading to heart attacks. If you smoke around your children, they will likely suffer similar effects due to second-hand smoke. Struggling to give up? The NHS can help you.

What can ECG at Home do for you?

Worried about your heart’s health?

If you are worried about any aspect of your family’s heart health, a simple ECG test could answer your questions. But waiting times are long and getting longer all the time, adding to your anxiety.

Our fit-at-home ECG test is an easy way for you to access the fast, reliable test results that could save your life. Read our blog about the benefits of an at-home heart test here.

Learn more about ECG At Home and forget having to wait on an NHS waiting list. Instead, work with our experts to identify any heart problems you might be facing.

Still have questions when it comes to heart disease? That’s what we’re here for. Send us a message and we’ll help you stay informed when it comes to your heart.

Other Blog Posts

Man sleeping peacefully

Sleep your way to a Healthier Heart

Wooden heart in 3 sets of hands

Heart Health in the Family: How to encourage healthy eating habits for all ages

Red heart with stethoscope

Heart Health Matters: Top Tips for a Stronger Happier Heart