Hally Healthcast: Family Wellness – Fitness, Nutrition and More for the Whole Family

Hally® Healthcast is the monthly wellness podcast from Hally health.

This month we’re talking about family wellness. With summer in full swing, kids and adults alike are enjoying the beautiful weather and the season’s festivities. It’s the perfect time to chat about fun, creative ways to help keep the whole family active and healthy.

We have two guests with us today. Dr. Nicole Florence is a bariatrician and medical director at Memorial Weight Loss and Wellness Center, based at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, Illinois. And Alison Jones is a Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian and Nutritionist, and Health and Wellness Coordinator at Health Alliance Medical Plans, based in Champaign, Illinois.

Listen here, or read a quick summary in the article below.

Caitlin Whyte (Host): Welcome to Hally Healthcast, the monthly wellness podcast from Hally health – your partner in helping you live your healthiest life.

Every month on our podcast, we address a new topic important to your health, bringing in expert doctors, nurses, therapists and specialists who offer advice and answer your most pressing questions.

This month we’re talking about family wellness. With summer in full swing, kids and adults alike are enjoying the beautiful weather and the season’s festivities. It’s the perfect time to chat about fun, creative ways to help keep the whole family active and healthy.

We have two guests with us today. Dr. Nicole Florence is a bariatrician and medical director at Memorial Weight Loss and Wellness Center, based at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, Illinois. And Alison Jones is a Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian and Nutritionist, and Health and Wellness Coordinator at Health Alliance Medical Plans, based in Champaign, Illinois.

Welcome to both of you, and thanks so much for being here.

So let’s jump right in. It’s summer. It’s beautiful out. What a perfect time to be outside exercising, playing sports and running around with the kids. So Dr. Florence, we’ll start with you. Why is physical activity so important for all ages, and how can parents and guardians get their kids – and themselves – moving more?

Nicole Florence, MD (Guest): Of course. Well, we have to understand that moving and having routine exercise does so many wonderful things for us physically – helps us normalize our blood pressure, our blood sugars, helps us strengthen our muscles, our bones – and we understand that we all will sleep better, as well as improve our mood. So, from any age, you know, child to adult, it’s going to be really important to have routine activity as a part of your lifestyle.

So, one thing that we try to encourage is we want a family to figure out something that they’re going to like to do that’s going to be fun and engaging, so that way they will do it more routinely. And it doesn’t have to always appear like exercise. And there’s so many activities.

Just going for a bike ride, maybe doing a scavenger hunt, a jump rope, you know, challenge, dancing, maybe even making an obstacle course in the home or outside the home. Just anything to get your whole family moving is important.

Host: Yes. Thank you, Dr. Florence. Anything more to add, Ms. Jones?

Alison Jones, RD LDN (Guest): Just like she said, physical activity definitely is important for children through adults, so all phases of the lifespan. It can help with our brain health, can reduce risk of depression or anxiety.

And as we get older too, it can improve our ability to do just our everyday activities. You know, and preventing falls too, that’s definitely important as we age. And with the children, like she said, helping to strengthen our bones and helping to build muscles. Some activities that kids could do to help with that would be, you know, jumping, running, skipping, even you know, climbing on the playground, tug of war. And then for all ages too, physical activity definitely helps in controlling weight and then maintaining our weight.

Leading by example, you know, monkey see, monkey do. If we’re out there exercising and, you know, moving our bodies and our kids are going to see that and hopefully want to participate in exercise and moving their bodies.

You know, routine too, setting aside time each day for the active play, you know, and that could be after the family meal. So, maybe you’re eating your dinners around five or six o’clock; maybe always after dinner, you could go for family bike ride or walking the dog, or you know, a dance party in the house, something like that after dinner.

And then also even planting a garden together, doing yard work together, chores together, and kind of turning it into a game. I know the younger kids, especially, if you turn it into a game, it doesn’t, it doesn’t seem to be so much of a chore for them. So, those are just a couple of other suggestions, you know that I had.

Host: Great information. Thank you, thank you. Now, in addition to exercise, we know that eating well is important again, for all ages. Ms. Jones, we’ll stick with you this time. Why is healthy eating so important for kids and adults? And what’s some advice for parents and guardians planning their family’s nutrition?

Alison: Yeah, sure. For children and adults, you know, eating healthy is definitely important. Just like with exercise, it can help reduce health conditions, obesity, you know, diabetes, so much more and can also help us achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.

And if we’re eating healthfully, we’re going to be consuming those important nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, carbohydrates, all of that. The carbohydrates, you know, help give us energy. And then with the children, you know, if we can teach them to eat healthfully while they’re young, that will help set the tone for their future and the food choices that they make. So, hopefully they would continue to make those same healthy food choices as they get older.

It also helps them grow and develop to their potential and not to mention it can help reduce their risk of iron deficiency and cavities too. So, limiting that sugar intake to help reduce the risk of cavities.

This year, the dietary guidelines have actually been changed to provide guidance for the different phases of life. So, this is the first year that they’re providing guidance by each stage of life. So, birth through older adult. So, healthy eating is definitely important, you know, throughout the lifespan.

Host: Absolutely Ms. Jones. Dr. Florence, anything to add?

Dr. Florence: Yeah. You know, I, I definitely, everything that she just said and more. And from what I do as a Bariatrician – and I manage people who have difficulty with their weight and other illnesses – one of the things that I see all the time is when I am evaluating a child or a teen, typically they’re not eating healthy, or they’re not getting enough vegetables because their parents aren’t. And so a lot of times, it’s a whole family support that we have to manage.

And it’s really important for us as adults to model that healthy eating for our kiddos. So, like she said, as they grow up, they will have a healthier routine and then hopefully have less issues, not only with their weight, but with other diseases that are associated with obesity.

Host: Wonderful, thank you again. And I guess we couldn’t have a discussion about health and wellness without mentioning the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In many ways, the pandemic has changed many of our routines, keeping us in the house, more, keeping kids from running around as much with their friends. And making those quick stops at the drive-through just a little easier to justify. So, any advice – specifically with the effects of the pandemic in mind – for how parents and guardians can get their whole family back to healthier lifestyles. Dr. Florence, go ahead.

Dr. Florence: So, one thing that we have tried to set the tone for – because we, this is probably the busiest we’ve been as a weight loss and wellness center with the pandemic – and we try to set the tone with what I call the three Rs.

So first routine, you have to maintain a routine of your healthy eating throughout the day, making sure you’re getting enough fluids and also make sure you have time for rest.

Make sure that you are not only taking that time to get a good night’s sleep, but even those small breaks throughout the day, because I think we’re starting to get a little too stressed and trying to do too much where it’s really causing a lot of the stress eating and poor habits that I think we’ve seen through the pandemic.

And then the last thing is to recharge right? Schedule time for fun, for joy, enjoying each other. It’s not always about those Zoom meetings and making all the activities and getting all the chores done. It is okay to recharge and have a little fun during your day, as a family.

Host: Of course, of course, Dr. Florence and Ms. Jones, your thoughts?

Alison: Yep. Nope, I agree with her as well. I know in our case, you know, I’m working from home, my husband’s working from home – just like a lot of families out there – our kids have had schooling from home.

So with that, our kitchen is readily available all day long. So, I would suggest planning out your meals, even planning out your snacks. Limiting your time going into the kitchen, limiting the time that you spend looking in the pantry.

And then also we kind of got into a habit of ordering takeout, which was not a typical activity for us, but I think others kind of did that too, just with not a lot going on, people were ordering takeout.

So, I would just suggest, you know, getting back on track and limiting your takeout meals or limiting your going out to eat meals. Um, and then just, you know, what we’ve discussed previously with, you know, healthy eating, getting into that routine of healthy eating and fitness or exercise workout routine.

Host: Beautiful, thank you. Now, switching to a completely different topic, we all know the physical health benefits of what we’ve been discussing, exercise and nutrition, but talk a little about some of the other benefits that parents, guardians and kids get when a family exercises, cooks and eats together. Ms. Jones, we’ll start with you.

Alison: Yes, no, I love this. I think a family that eats together, exercises together, cooks together, you know, I feel that that’s their time to come together during the day, even though they may be busy, you know, with work or with school or with activities, that’s a time for them to come together. They can talk about their day. They can talk about their next day. They can talk about plans, dreams, whatever it is that they want to talk about.

It also gives the parents an opportunity to be the role models, you know, and set that example for their kids, for the healthy eating and the physical activity. I believe it also encourages teamwork, you know, working together and also builds the self-esteem with those young kids, too.

Host: Thank you. And anything to add, Dr. Florence?

Dr. Florence: Yeah. You know, I totally agree. And the studies have shown us that a family that eats dinner together – no devices, no TV – that goes through that, you know, communication, they are more mindful eaters, but also they have children that are less likely to do risky behaviors, right? Which we’re trying to avoid as a family, making sure our children make good choices.

So, the studies show that a family that does all of these things together, they are actually supporting their children to be healthier physically, emotionally, as well as take less risks when they’re out of the home.

Host: Now, finally, I want to wrap up today’s discussion on another important note. Even the best parents and guardians aren’t superheroes. They can’t do it all themselves and most are experts in fields other than medicine and healthcare. So, getting to my point, how can parents and guardians best lean on their family’s doctors, and other experts like dieticians to help keep their family healthy? How about you, Dr. Florence?

Dr. Florence: Well, I think it’s important that we all know it takes a village, right, in order to support our physical, our emotional health. And I would hope that everyone would want as many people on that team with their expertise to make sure that they are going to be successful or their family.

So, making sure that you’re talking to your physician, making sure you have that dietician, that consultant. I always say phone a friend, right? As well as maybe even a behavioral health provider or trainers, physical therapy, you want to make sure that you have that whole supportive team to help you have that healthy lifestyle, but we really want you all to thrive, right, thrive physically as well as emotionally.

Host: Thank you. And Ms. Jones, any final thoughts?

Alison: I mean, just echoing what she said, but yes, taking advantage of the annual doctor’s visits, your checkups, your preventative screenings, getting the vaccines for all family members, you know, children through adult, and, you know, even taking advantage of the virtual visits that we have nowadays and just not being afraid to ask questions.

Host: Well such wonderful information and advice.

Thanks to both of you for taking time out of your busy schedules to talk with us today, and for all you do to care for the well-being of so many families in central Illinois, and beyond.

That concludes today’s Hally Healthcast. Tune in next month, when we discuss yet another topic important to your health and well-being.

And remember – Hally health is your partner in helping you live your healthiest life. Visit hally.com for resources, information, tips, and much more. Let us help keep you and your family healthy and well.

Thanks for listening. We hope you tune in next month.

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