Health tips for busy parents

Health tips for busy parents

It is crucial for parents to stay well for their children. Here are some health tips by a dad and certified fitness instructor.

According to the Ministry of Health' statistics, hypertension, diabetes and high total cholesterol are the top three diseases that are most prevalent in adults aged 18 to 69. More than one in six Singapore residents aged 18 to 69 years old have high total blood cholesterol. Elevated blood cholesterol, in particular, LDL-cholesterol, causes atherosclerosis and increases the risk for coronary heart disease. Health tips for busy parents are in order.

Like most individuals, Tan Chin Hock leads a hectic lifestyle and is also exposed to the daily temptation of tantalising food that are high in sugar content, saturated and trans fats. He says, “As a father of three children and caregiver of their grandparents, I strongly believe in taking good care of my health so that I can look after them well and enjoy a better quality of life at the same time. However, I do not subscribe to any particular diet fad or count my calories.” 

Chin Hock recently went for his annual screening and his health indicators were all within the healthy range. He lives by the philosophy “We are what we eat and calorie intake vs output is a key component to effective and sustainable weight management.” 

However, he does not believe in strict calories counting as that is too bothersome and adds more stress to one’s life. Instead, he suggests that one should look at his or her diet in totality. He rationalises, “It is backed by scientific research. Any caloric excess of 3,500 would add one pound to your weight. My strategy is simple. Out of the three main meals a day, I will consciously try to choose food that is lighter in calories for two of the meals. Usually, these meals are soup based, grilled or pan fried. I also try to limit fast food intake to less than twice a week.”

The certified fitness instructor also shares that there are some foods that he always has in his everyday diet. He also attributes the following practices as the most likely contributing factors to his healthy and energetic disposition. Read his health tips in his own words...

Diet

My first meal of the day, breakfast is always the heaviest and healthiest. I believe in having a good start to the day, and since it is prepared at home, I can have full control over it. It is actually not very difficult to enjoy a healthy breakfast at home.

health tips

For instance, two slices of wholemeal bread accompanied with a 250ml low-fat milk or multi-grain ready-to-eat cereal with raisins and low-fat milk should do the job for most of us. You could refer to the Health Promotion Board website for more useful tips on breakfast preparation. 

Out of my three meals per day, two meals will be a conscious selection of foods that are lighter in their calories. If somehow, you do not have such luxury, you can always make it up on other days. Remember the science, “Any caloric excess of 3,500 would add one pound to your weight and vice versa”. It doesn’t matter when you accumulate the excess or deficit.

Snacking is encouraged so that they can fill you up with energy between meals. Just note that these will also add up to your total calorie intake and thus sensible food selection is essential.  My favourite snacks are dark chocolate (those above 70% cocoa), assorted nuts and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

Eat your greens first, it helps to make you feel fuller faster due to its fibre and hence reduce the probability of overeating for that meal. When it comes to diet health tips, I believe in the mantra - Too much of anything is not wise. A balanced and moderated diet is still a key factor in maintaining good health.

Detoxification

Detoxification through bowel movement is one of the ways our body discards waste. Constipation may make us feel sluggish and bloated. Thus, it is imperative to ensure bowel movements are as regular as possible. 

As part of my detoxification routine, the first thing that I do after waking up every morning is to drink a cup of warm water. It helps to trigger my visit to the toilet and flush away the toxins in my body. It is the easiest and most cost effective detoxification method that I known of.  

Three more expert health tips on the next page...

Mental health

The mind and body are linked. No list of health tips will be complete without addressing mental health. You can’t be feeling great or coping well with stress when you are feeling lethargic most of the time. Having some form of physical activity not only helps to improve our physical well-being, it also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals that energise and lift your mood.

health tips

Stop procrastinating. The longer you put that impending task on hold, the longer it will keep staying on your mind and keep on haunting you, sucking up precious energy out of you. I always have a daily to-do list and would stick to it as much as possible. Writing this article in the wee hours when my family is sound asleep is one of them. Do note that the daily list has to be realistic. Having too many items may be counterproductive and create unnecessary stresses.

There are a thousand and one challenges in our everyday life but we only have 24 hours a day. Hence, I try to channel my thoughts and energy in matters that are most important to me and that I can have control over. 

Exercise

Weight bearing exercises not only helps to keep bones strong, it helps to strengthen muscles and improve strength and flexibility. Some of these exercises include hiking, jogging, stair climbing or any other activities that require movement of the large muscles such as the leg and the back muscles.

Although I do not have time for the gym, I usually do calisthenic exercises at the neighbourhood’s fitness corner. A good 30 minutes rigorous workout, three times per week would be enough for one to benefit from the routine. 

I jog at least twice a week, each session lasting not more than 30 mins.  Each session is ended with a 20 seconds sprint till the end. By maintaining an intensity of 70% - 90% of my maximum heart rate throughout the session, the health benefits are a strengthen heart and lungs. I also swim occasionally to allow recovery of the leg muscles and to work other parts of the muscles as part of my cross-training regime.

There is a useful article on the Health Promotion Board website with physical activity health tips that should get you started. Remember to seek your physician’s advice before embarking on any strenuous exercise regime.

Regular health screenings

According to HealthHub, an initiative by the Ministry of Health and  Health Promotion Board, early detection followed by treatment can result in better outcomes. For me, an additional reason is not to burden my loved ones and dependents with medical bills and that is why I started to go for regular health screening in my early thirties.

health tips

Apparently, certain health screenings will be more beneficial for some but not others. Do seek your physician’s advice regarding the type of screening that is more suitable for you. There are schemes provided by the Ministry of Health to help lower income families to fund the health screening. Do check that out and forward to someone you know could benefit from it.

Note: The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have. 

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Written by

Tan Chin Hock

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