6 Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle

This week's episode of "Perfectly Imperfect Parents" on The Chopra Well focuses on how parents can teach and model healthy living habits to kids. Dr. Cara Natterson from the show shares her own tips for a healthier, happier lifestyle.

Watch the "Healthy Living" episode here!

By Dr. Cara Natterson

Frankly, that phrase is pretty intimidating: "Healthy Living." If you aren't abiding by it perfectly when you read it, it actually even feels judgy. It's not meant to be, though. Healthy living is a goal, and so maybe the better term would be "healthier living."

What is healthier living? It is taking whatever you are doing a step in the right direction. You know when you are really, really craving that chocolate chip cookie after lunch and you fight the urge and choose a juicy tangerine instead? And then you are completely floored that you sweet craving is gone because you have actually consumed something sweet? Yeah, that's healthier living. It doesn't mean you will never have the cookie - of course you will - but you are finding ways to make better choices some of the time.

applesHere are six keys to healthier living:

1. It means eating better by eating more whole foods and fewer processed ones. I do think it means eating more organic foods, but I don't think organic brownies count.

2. Healthier living means choosing water over juice or soda.

3. It means exercising regularly, which for most people means forcing themselves to get out of the chair and start moving.

4. Healthier living means going to bed earlier and aiming for 8 (or if you are a growing kid, 10) hours of solid sleep. Like I said, it's a goal. But it is a goal that is far easier to reach when you turn off the TV.

5. Healthier living means reducing screen time and chemical exposures.

6. It means finding ways to reduce stress, which for one person might be a yoga class and for another might be getting through a towering pile of mail and paying the bills.

Perhaps most importantly, healthier living means that you are doing better today than you did yesterday. And so that means it is never too late to start. Sometimes I sit down with families and talk about nutrition and exercise and sleep, and their eyes glass over. If a thought bubble could emerge above their heads it would say, uniformly, "You want me to do what?! That's waaaaay too much to change." But if you take little tiny steps and make small changes day-by-day and week-by-week, it really is doable. And you'll feel better. And one day, you'll go from aiming to be healthier to just being healthy.

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and stay tuned for more inspiring lifestyle tips on "Perfectly Imperfect Parents."

Past Articles:

Managing Grandparents: How to Be a Parent When You're Still Someone's Child

How to Teach Our Kids About the Perils of Lying

Should Parents Allow Their Kids On Social Media