7 healthy habits a mother can teach her daughter
August is National Women’s Month and Child Health Month. Mothers are important role models for their daughters. Showing them how to be healthy and create healthy lives for themselves as they grow into young women is the most vital gift a mom can pass on to her girl child.
Here are 7 ways mothers can lead the way with health:
1. Go see your doctor and get checked up
If you are already ill with a chronic disease, you have a family history of cancer, or you are over 50, you should be especially aware of the need to visit your doctor more regularly. Breast cancer and cervical cancer can be life-threatening. If caught early, the difference in time could save your life.
Teach your daughter about pap smears and mammograms in particular, as these are not the kind of subjects that daughters can usually talk to fathers or husbands about. Go for pap smear tests every 3 years if you are between 21 and 29, and pap smear and HPV testing every 3-5 years if you are between 30 and 65. HPV is a leading cause of cervical cancer in women, so this is essential.
Mammograms are also a must for women, especially starting between the age of 45 and 50 (in most cases, your mom will still be alive when you reach this age). You can commiserate together about how cold and impersonal the instruments are, and how brave you have both been for taking the plunge and getting checked!
2. Spa days
Women are the backbone of our society, and every woman needs a good pampering now and again. Make it a day to bond and get to catch up with each other, chat about life, love, dreams and difficulties, and what the future holds. The health benefits of an aromatherapy massage, a good exfoliation and facial, a mani and pedi, and a delicious healthy lunch will lift both your spirits and invigorate you.
3. Do the fruit & veggie thing
It cannot be stressed enough, as more and more research shows that we must eat our greens if we want to live to see our grandchildren. Moms, this can be an especially important lesson for your adult daughter if she has young kids: she will want them to grow up healthy and strong, so she must herself lead by example.
The recommended dose is 5 portions per day, in a combination of fruit and vegetables. A portion is generally considered to be the size of your hand or about 100g. A banana for breakfast with a glass of orange juice (be aware though that fruit juices are high in sugars), a healthy salad for lunch which includes a whole tomato, half a cucumber and a helping of lettuce (or these on a wholewheat roll), and a sweet potato with your dinner would be considered a good portion of 5.
4. Go easy on the sugar
The irony of life is that as we eliminate dreaded diseases and remove threats to humans from other catastrophes, we have become our own worst enemies, often with what we eat.
While we’re not advocating a complete removal of sugar from your life, cutting back is a good thing if you want to stave off the effects of metabolic syndrome and other lifestyle diseases such as diabetes. South Africa has one of the highest obesity rates in the world, so it’s not for nothing that government opted to introduce a sugar tax.
Switch to honey if you can afford it, and raise your children to have less sugar – learning healthy habits at a young age will carry through to adulthood. If you do have a sweet tooth, then take up walking. Research has shown that a good walk for 20 minutes every day lessens sugar cravings, so ask your mom or your daughter to meet with you for a nice walk and a chat, even if only on the weekends.
5. Bond with and grow to love H2O
Yes, we know you’ve heard it a lot, but even so, water is absolutely essential for good living. It gives the kidneys a boost, helps with digestion, and has been linked to longevity of life. Give your children water to drink from a young age and drink water with them. Ensure that the family drinks at least 1 litre (children) to 2 litres (teens and adults) of water a day. Whenever you go out, take bottled water with you and always order a glass of water when bonding with your family at a restaurant. Make water your go-to beverage in your home.
6. Burn the calories
Especially after giving birth, women can tend to battle with excess weight. If you’re a young mom with small kids, make it a habit to get and keep your children active and burning energy. This will help them into adulthood. If you’re an older mom with grown children, see how the two of you can exercise together.
7. Ditch the cigarettes
There are absolutely no health benefits to smoking. As a mom, consider a programme or aids to reduce your craving and addiction to tobacco (speak to your doctor for more guidance), and lead by example. If you smoke, how can you expect your daughter not to?
For more information please contact:
Dr S Silvester MD
Emergency Room Physician, ER Manager
Maputo Private Hospital
Telephone: +258 214 88 600
Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis.