How I’m teaching my children to embrace a healthy lifestyle

This post is sponsored by Nuffnang

As a toddler I wasn’t overweight, but it was mid way through primary school that my weight increased. I was teased a lot, I was short, freckly and fat.  However, looking back at my school photos I wasn’t ‘fat’ I was a little chubby which most kids outgrow as they get older, but sadly I didn’t.  Looking back I didn’t have the most active lifestyle when I was younger.  I was an inside child, I sat in my bedroom most afternoons writing letters to my friends and I also played the organ, which I had to sit and practice for one hour each day.  When I graduated grade 12 I was a size 14. My weight ballooned again after I got married, then more after I had my kids and finally after losing my mum.

I don’t want my kids to follow in my footsteps of being unhealthy (which I am now on a mission to improve my health and increase my activity).  I do believe I can teach my kids how to embrace an active and healthy lifestyle, they will form good habits and help them develop the skill to live a healthy life.  Some of they key factors are:

Participate in an active sport

My kids all started karate in their first year of school.  At the time it was to help them learn self defence and help boost their confidence and self-esteem.  But I am grateful there has been so many more benefits.  Not only that it has helped them to improve their coordination and balance, build strong muscle tone (my son has low muscle tone), become very flexible, maintain a healthy weight, it really improved my sons posture, teaches them to respect themselves and others,  and most of all encourages them to have fun and make wonderful friendships.

 Encourage active play

  • playing in the backyard
  • riding a bike or scooter
  • running races
  • swimming
  • jumping on the trampoline
  • a game of soccer or basketball

Limit TV time

We limit the amount of time the kids watch TV, it is rarely on during sunlight hours. After the kids have completed their homework I like them to go outside, run around and have some fun.  On the weekends we have set a parental control onto the Xbox that they can only play it for 1 hour, after 1 hour it turns off.

Be an active role model

Up until recently I wasn’t exercising enough, but over the past few months I have regularly been walking and visiting the gym.  On the weekends the kids have joined me on my walks, either scootering, riding or walking with me.  It’s also a great opportunity to spend time together.

Teach my children healthy eating habits

Now that my children are older we can talk more about why I say no to them eating certain foods and eating bad foods in moderation, to give them a better understanding about food and nutrition.

  • having healthy snacks always available
  • always have a water bottle on hand
  • never reward the kids with food
  • eating meals together as a family, this has been a priority of ours since the kids could sit up in a high chair.  Eating dinner is not a race, we eat slowly and take the opportunity to chat about our day.
  • get the kids to help with weekly meal planning.  Give the kids an opportunity to choose and help you prepare a meal, being involved in the process can help them learn further about food and more than likely they will eat what they help you prepare.

How Communities & Institutions can help

The school that my kids attend is focussing really well on teaching the following, I hope that most schools follow the same practices:

  • ensure the schools practice a healthy eating policy via the canteen and fundraising activities
  • that schools have a good balance of activity in the curriculum
  • encourage children at school to learn how to grow fresh fruit and vegetables
  • teaching children good food choices.  My kids had an assessment recently on how to make a healthy sandwich.
  • promote water consumption and discourage sugary drinks
  • the younger kids get a fruit break
  • and lastly they recently ran a fun program to encourage kids to walk/ride to school rather than travelling via the car.

 How can we teach our children and local community to improve our health, nutrition and become more active? 

I’d love to hear your thought, please leave a comment below:

Queensland is currently running a survey, were QLDers can have a say and share our views to shape the 30-year vision for Queensland.  A unique way for you to help directly shape the future of Queensland.  They asked me my opinion on “How do we empower and educate individuals, communities and institutions to embrace responsibility for an active and healthy lifestyle?”

This blog topic was commissioned by the Queensland Government to raise awareness of The Queensland Plan. Content and ideas are entirely the author’s own

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Carly Joyce July 30, 2013 - 10:16 AM

Love it Kat, great work! My cousin is a nutritionist and she has taught me quite a lot even though I felt I was already nutrition conscious. Firstly to limit fruit intake to two-three pieces a day but to have loads of veggies. Fruit is great but also tends to be high in sugar so moderation is definitely important. I now send my daughter to school with one piece of fruit and some cherry tomatoes or carrot sticks and then she has something similar for afternoon tea. We almost always have veggies in our dinner.

She also told me that it’s not what you eat in a day that matters, but what you eat in a week. If you have a ‘naughty’ day, just make sure to be extra vigilant for the rest of the week. We had bacon, eggs and sausages for tea one night and then grilled chicken and steamed veggies, chicken stir-fry, tuna casserole etc. for the rest of the week. You have to let loose sometimes!

Merryl Chantrell July 31, 2013 - 5:19 AM

Don’t be too hard on yourself about being overweight. There are a lot of us around. We were not all meant to be stick thin. I am now 60 and I have found the easiest way to look after my weight is to make sure my portion sizes are not humungous and to make better food choices. Beware of added Sugar or anything derived from Sugar such as Glucose or Fructose. Don’t cut out Dairy or your bones will suffer. Not too much fat reduced either because the Sugar content is often higher with these products and remember fat is flavour.
I have only been thin twice in my life and both times I was very sick. With a little extra weight there is something to fall back on.

Mishelle Smethurst July 31, 2013 - 8:21 AM

I have just started clean eating and decided to get the family on board. Funnily enough, my 4yo daughter LOVES eating clean and is actually enjoyiong food more now that it is clean. There is absolutely no flour (we use almond meal) and NO SUGAR (we can use a little natvia) and definitely NO BREAD but have selected recipes that have foods with such rich flavours, you don’t need to add them in… I have just bought a food dehydrator so I can make my own raw onion bread, because I do miss being able to just have a sandwich for lunch 🙂

Emily C July 31, 2013 - 9:55 AM

What a fantastic post Kat! I love to see people making healthy choices but even more so, I love to see them teaching those to their children. I have been blessed to have parents that live very healthily and have passed their habits and knowledge down to me and my sister. In the past year I have struggled to maintain a healthy weight through a series of traumatic events falling on my family, but those habits have been strong and I have pulled through mostly ok. I understand very much how hard it is to keep yourself healthy through the rough times. Though I don’t yet have my own children, when I do have them I hope I can bring them up to embrace a healthy lifestyle too.
You are doing a wonderful job making positive decisions with your own health. Well done!!! From your pictures, it certainly looks as though your kids are happy, healthy and active and that is such an excellent start in life for them. Thank you for sharing your journey and keep up the fantastic work!

Marita Beard August 1, 2013 - 6:22 PM

My 10yo asked yesterday for a letter to excuse her from sport at school because one of her friends mums had written a similar letter. I was not impressed and told 10yo that she had no reason to miss out on sport at school and it helped her brain be smarter to do sport. Between 2 hours of swim squad, 1 hour taekwondo after school and Step Into Life, Athletics and Zumba at school she does a fair bit.

Kirsten McCulloch August 3, 2013 - 7:54 AM

I think it’s great that you are focussing on getting them moving Kat. My kids’ school does pretty much all of those things you talked about (though there’s not been an assessment on making a sandwich yet!) which I love, including not having any junk at all in the canteen.

I was also a chubby child – well, from puberty really – and it saddens me no end to look back and realise that’s all I was, a little chubby, for most of my teens and twenties. And yet I felt fat. My mum was always (it seems to me) focussed on losing weight, and she too was no more than a little chubby. But she also is tall with a large frame so she didn’t meet the current ideal of beautiful women.

So for me, I want my children to eat healthy food and stay active, and I am realising as they get older that that is easier with organised sports (my 3 and 7 year olds are still very active naturally, but my 11 year old has discovered books in a big way, so I could see him really slowing down over the next few years without some kind of sport and/or family activity), and also that I need to be a better role model. If we get out as a family to kick the ball around or yes, go for walks and let them scoot along with us, it can make all the difference I think.

AbouttheGarden December 10, 2013 - 11:23 AM

I was an overweight vegetarian kid & teen (I hit a size 16), I was busy playing piano & reading. It was awful to be teased at school & be nick named ‘the fat kid’. I didn’t eat crap, we didn’t have any in the house!

I’ve just reached my weight loss of 25 kilo’s down after my last pregnancy. It’s the 3rd time in my life I’ve had to make the journey (once as a teen, twice after pregnancy). I’ve really been conscious this time round that I have a 5 year old little girl that watches everything I do, so I’ve taken a different approach I really want her to consider her ‘health’ over being ‘skinny’. So I get outside with them, kick a ball, garden & jump on the trampoline (although I’m sure I look like a complete idiot to my neighbours…lol….).

Thanks for sharing your story Kat

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