By: Ella Mthethwa

Our choice of food should not be determined by the season or situation but by a family goal to live healthy and longer. Our trusted Nutritionist Ella Mthethwa made it her responsibility to make sure that UniQ readers stay healthy and fit even in winter.

As winter approaches and as the temperatures drop over the next few weeks imminent weight gain in most people is anticipated. We tend to think it is okay to keep your body warm by indulging in so called “Winter Warmers” / Comfort Foods which are often high in fat and are generally energy dense. This should not be the case and CAN be prevented. It’s an important period to regroup as a FAMILY that is on a mission to “fight against the unwanted fat” (#fatmustfall) and to build muscles, build healthy bodies – living a Healthy Lifestyle. The important aspect is to instil habits that will encourage long lasting behaviours and habits that will enable kids to grow up healthy and for families to BE HEALTHY.

From a Nutrition point of view the needs may vary from the littlest child in the family vs the grandparents (the two extremes) however the principles remain the same, it’s about living a Healthy Lifestyle holistically incorporating nutrition and exercise in the relevant degrees. I can personally testify as the daughter of a woman who at age 70 was holding “aerobics” classes every Wednesday for her peers – “oMakhulu” (the grannies) from her church group and circle albeit not in its intense form. The whole point was to get “oMama” to move so that they could motivate their own families to live a healthy lifestyle.

Yes – it is true! What happens at Home Base with family influences the relationship one has with food, lifestyle habits and behaviours. It is often said that “Families that pray together stick together” and to add to this, Families that train together and follow a healthy lifestyle together increase their chances of living a healthy, fulfilling life together.

The question that most families ask is: “Where do we start?”

Here are a few basic tips that the family can START within the next few weeks:

* Plan Together 

Set health goals together as a family and stick to these through teamwork and consistent support. Plan your shopping and buy a variety of healthy foods. Plan not only for home but out of home as well ie school/work lunches and eating out. Don’t forget to involve the kids in the planning as well – they learn and develop healthy habits at a young age and are more likely to follow through when they are involved.

* Eat Together

Apart from the importance of bonding during meals, when the family sits together they are more likely to stick to their nutrition goals. Chances of unnecessary snacking on high calorie foods are also minimized. Mealtimes also present an opportunity to teach and influence children about healthy eating habits…

* Eat balanced meals 

The most basic start is to eat 3 balanced meals per day. Balancing the meals means that the meals must be enough for growth of the child and to sustain an adult. The meals must have starch (carbohydrates), protein, fruit and vegetable and fibre. In addition to this it is important to drink at least 6-8 glasses of water. Avoid processed foods, Limit added Sugar, Salt and reduce the amount of Fats in your diet. 

* Exercise/Play Together 

The benefits of exercising are many and as such families are encouraged to exercise or play together. In the beginning the most important element is to just start and to get into the routine. The family can start easy by getting together and exercising or playing at least once every weekend. For the rest of the week, at least 3-4 times a week for 20-30 minutes is a good start.

* Be a Role Model

The adults in the family need to understand the fact that they are role models of healthy eating and exercise for the younger members in the family and need to heed the call by Living and Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle. Very often action is only taken when the child already has an issue eg obese and when it is very difficult to reverse the situation. 

A very good way to start them young or for a kick start is to go to a Family BootCamp (eg ELLAGENCE WellNess BoutiQue Family BootCamp)…

Don’t Procrastinate – Start TODAY…