Maintaining the health and happiness for you and your family is not always easy. From diet to mental and physio health, it takes a lot to support a healthy and active lifestyle – so you should never feel embarrassed about asking for support when it’s available.

To mark World Health Day 2021, we’ve created a some resources that provide practical advice on how you can improve the health and wellbeing of your family, with useful help and advice on exercising safely, a balanced diet and eating well, and supporting foster children’s mental health. Our guide is an excellent resource for anyone who’s looking for effective new ways to boost their family’s health, happiness and wellbeing in 2021 and beyond.

Our guide is an excellent resource for anyone who’s looking for effective new ways to boost their family’s health, happiness and wellbeing in 2021 and beyond.

  1. Eating Better for Children and Young People – Managing a child’s or young person’s diet can often be challenging when healthy habits haven’t been enforced from an early age, and Foster Parents often face an uphill battle to get children in their care eating well. But with childhood obesity at an all-time high, it’s important that you make smart choices when it comes to feeding your family.
  2. Start the Day with a Proper Breakfast – The benefits of a healthy and nutritious breakfast have been well documented for some time; it fuels the body for the day ahead, aids concentration and reduces the likelihood of unhealthy binge-snacking. Some foods are better suited to the breakfast table than others, so try swaping sugary cereals (which are proven to cause dental issues, weight gain and behavioural problems) for healthier alternatives such as porridge oats, fresh fruit, poached eggs and granola.
  3. Try to Hit 5 Portions of Veg a Day – There’s an enduring stigma attached to vegetables which make them unappealing to children and young people. Getting children to eat their greens has long been a challenge for Foster Parents, but with a little effort, it’s easy to introduce vegetables into children’s diets using smart ways to get them eating their daily dose of veg.
  4. Include Children in the Meal Planning Process – Educating the children and young people in your care in the process of buying and cooking food will not only introduce healthy eating habits, it will also encourage them to cook and help nurture a lifelong love of food. Try to include them in the complete meal plan process, from searching for new recipes and sourcing ingredients to getting their hands dirty in the kitchen. Seeing how a meal is brought together is a powerful experience for children and young people, and is a great way of bonding with your foster child while ensuring they’re introduced to healthy food choices.
  5. Choose the Right Snacks and Consider Vitamin Supplements – One of the most challenging aspects of fostering is adapting to the needs of different children who may come into your care – be it their dietary requirements, fitness level or personal food preferences. Wherever possible, children and young people should adopt your family’s eating habits, but there does need to be some flexibility so try choosing healthy snacks that will give children plenty of energy without being overly fattening.
  6. Exercising as a Family – Family-Friendly Sports – While many children and young people choose to play sport with schoolmates or as part of a club, it’s rare that families play sport or exercise together. Encouraging children to be active is to take part in sport as a family, whether that’s running, football, swimming or cycling. Keeping the family healthy actively encourages exercise so try to make it part of everyday family life.
  7. Stay Active at Home – Keeping children and young people active doesn’t always mean you have to go outside to participate in sports and activities; even the smallest amount of physical activity around the home can quickly build up into a healthy level of exercise. Try to limit sedentary time spent watching TV or playing computer games and swap them for more physical activities such as helping with everyday chores such as gardening. While it might not sound all that appealing at first, these activities are a great way to get active and bond as a family.
  8. Supporting Children’s Mental Health – For Foster Parents, maintaining and understanding a child’s mental health is a fundamental part of looking after their physical health and wellbeing. Given the diverse and often turbulent backgrounds of some children and young people in care, supporting their mental health can be challenging, but it’s also one of the most rewarding and worthwhile aspects of fostering.
  9. Understand the Signs of Deteriorating Mental Health – Whether you’re caring for a young child or a teenager, mental health problems can affect people of any age, particularly during the COVID lockdown situation. If you are concerned a child or young person in your care may have a mental health concern, there are lots of resources available to help you understand the condition, including the NHS website. By understanding the signs of poor mental health in children and young people, Foster Parents can get help before the condition disrupts the child’s life, health and wellbeing.
  10. Spend Time Doing a Quiet Activity with Children in Your Care – Encouraging an open dialogue with children and young people can help them to talk through their feelings, mitigating the risk of their mental health disrupting other areas of their life. Try not to force the conversation if they’re not ready to have it. Instead, spend time with them enjoying a quiet activity such as drawing, exercising or gardening, which will make it easier to have a more informal chat and encourage them to open up to you naturally. And always try to lend an ear to a child or young person, and encourage an open door environment in which they feel supported.

If the current Covid pandemic is affecting your career, or if you’d like to talk to someone about what being a Foster Parent with Flourish Fostering involves, get in touch on 0808 129 5311 and start your journey today.