Not happy your children munch on crisps and guzzle pop? Here are 7 tips from badminton Olympic silver medallist and mum, Gail Emms, how you can change your ways to cultivate healthier eating habits in your kids.
In a world where unhealthy fast food is so readily available and unhealthy food is frequently marketed to children, teaching healthy eating habits is not only important for your kids now, but also for their long-term wellbeing.
World, European and Commonwealth badminton champion and Olympic silver medallist, Gail Emms MBE, has two children – Harry 5 years old, and Oliver who is 2 years old.
Gail has shared with us her seven healthy eating habits she teaches her kids.
1. Breakfast Is The Most Important Meal Of The Day
It sounds like a bit of a cliché, but it is so important for everyone to eat breakfast, especially kids as it sets them up with the energy they need for the rest of the day.
I usually serve my kids a healthy breakfast that is not too loaded with sugar like so many cereals are these days. Whole grain and proteins are also better than carb-heavy foods and will also help to give them the concentration they need when they’re at school.
2. Teach Them To Love Water
I often hear parents say their kids "won’t drink water", but I think this is only because they’ve become too used to drinking fizzy pop or sugary fruit drinks.
We all know how many health benefits water has, so I think it’s important to get kids into good habits from a young age. Drinking water regularly throughout the day has so many positive effects including energising muscles and helping the kidneys to functional at their optimal level.
3. Create Reward Charts To Make Eating Healthy Food More Fun
If you’re part of a competitive family like mine, creating a reward charts is a good way to encourage your kids to eat healthy foods. You can even turn it into a competition – you wouldn’t believe how much broccoli my kids eat when they know they’re up against each other!
This is a great way to make eating healthy foods more fun and will hopefully also encourage your kids to try food that they may not have wanted to before.
4. Don’t Use Food As Treats
Even as adults, it’s very easy to get into a habit of "treating ourselves" if we have done something good. After a long day of work, many people think "I deserve this bar of chocolate or glass of wine".
It’s the same with kids, and they can get into a similar mindset of thinking they deserve a bag of crisps or sweets every time they clean their room or empty the dishwasher.
I think treats can be a good thing, but why not reward them with trips out to the cinema or the park instead of unhealthy food?
5. Meal Times Should Be Family Time
This is one I feel passionate about. We have so much more technology in our houses than we used to and so many more distractions – iPads, iPhones, laptops, TVs, toys – but I’m a firm believer that meal times should be family time.
For my family, meal times are a great social occasion when we spend time together, communicate with each other and become closer as a family unit. It’s not easy nowadays, but I think if you’re firm with the rules, it becomes more of a routine than a punishment.
6. Teach Them Where Food Comes From
I think it’s important that my kids know where their food comes from and they know about techniques like farming and fishing so that they learn to appreciate fresh, non-processed food.
It’s a good idea to get kids involved in cooking from a young age so they grow up being able to cook for themselves which gets them into good habits when they are older.
Hopefully they will then begin to eat healthy food themselves rather than take-aways and processed food.
7. Teach Them To Wait For Food
When it’s coming up to dinnertime, kids will often ask for a biscuit or sweets, but I think it’s important they wait.
Not only have you taken time to prepare their meal, they will get into bad habits which may mean they expect the same treatment every day! We live in an instant gratification society so I think waiting is a great skill for everyone to learn.
These are just a few simple and straightforward tips you can incorporate into your daily routine which will hopefully form the basis of a happy, healthy and active family life.