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John Laurie

Business Development Officer, Young Enterprise Scotland

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What do we need to teach our kids about healthy eating and exercise?

Is it enough to be teaching our children about what foods are good and what foods are bad or do we need to do more than that, do we need to take the leap into leading a healthy active life ourselves and leading the next generation by example.

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    Feb 28 2012: Certainly to lead by example but that is only a part of the childs environment. Kids spend 6 hours (or more) a day at school. Teachers become role models not just by words but also by actions. Probally the most influencial people in your kids life is their friends and their parents. They go to their pals house and snack, play, and learn. If you restrict soda pop, intendo, and TV to minimums they will sneak them at Tommies house. The best we can do is to expose them to good habits and practices and influence their associations in a positive way. Parenting ain't easy.
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      Feb 28 2012: I honestly hadnt considered that when writing this question! thanks!! as a father of two (all be it, 3yrs and 1yr) I have already seen this in their trips to the grandparent house where they are given Treats at almost every visit.
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    Feb 28 2012: Avoid unhealthy eating and lethargy.
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      Feb 29 2012: succinct and to the point! i like it...
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    Feb 28 2012: Yes, and those tools include the ability to assess and challenge the information that's presented to them. There's also a need to provide them with the experience of a healthy lifestyle and that's where adult example comes in. If the adults don't practice what they preach then it's not unreasonable for a child to assume that, for example exercise and healthy eating, are something that is imposed on children and that, when they are older, it's part of growing up to abandon the childish way of living.
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    Feb 27 2012: I believe no food is 'good' or 'bad' , only a starting point which explores our individual attitudes towards it. With so many children with eating disorders, I say we are actually at risk in developing mass 'disordered eating', that is say an unhealthy relationship with or around food. At our school we are striving to improve our dining facilities because we value children's relationship with food and importantly what it can bring to socialization. The simple maths of calorie intake versus calorie use is often forgotten and I have seen many children clearly 'eating their feelings', that is to say using food as a substitute for love, care or affection. This I understand but it nevertheless is upsetting to see. Keeping children active and educated is crucial. I agree John, more leading by example is needed by adults, we can after all so easily fall into these unhealthy habits ourselves.
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      Feb 28 2012: Totally agree Stuart! i hesitated when writing good / bad food but i left it in as thats what this forum is all about!! the energy imbalance is something im really passionate about and feel it is the most simplest of lessons that instead has been replaced with a myriad of fad diets, checks, points & slim shakes.
      Eating their feelings is a great term and so relevant. We have so many simple carb foods available to us that when we are feeling low, our body doesnt have to reach very far to get a dose of glycogen.

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        Feb 28 2012: I agree John, I worry that people, in trying to gain control of eating, are vulnerable to fad diets and heavy marketing campaigns. Many of the over priced and over packaged diet foods provide an 'illusion' of health and intelligent people are taken in by it. I also have concern for 'bargaining' that goes on in diets such as: ' I've had a chocolate bar today so I will only have milk in my coffee until Thursday...' I know some people do feel powerless around food and I do sympathize but all the time the adults are making poor choices then children will pick up on it too. Easy to say and hard to do I know.
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    Feb 27 2012: The best thing to encourage is the ability to analyse and assess all the information out there. There's a deluge of information about what people should and shouldn't eat. That changes over time, and much of it is contradictory anyway. Pragmatic guidelines is enough teaching if kids are brought up with an intelligent scepticism. Then kids will be influenced by the attitudes and habits of the family, so good example matters.
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      Feb 28 2012: thanks for that! so i think what you are saying is we need to give them the tools to do the job and not try to over direct them
  • Feb 27 2012: I think self discipline is a huge issue at the heart of this. I basically believe that if children are taught stronger self discipline then they become more likely to choose what is right over what is easy. For example going and buying fast food rather than cooking a healthy meal or sitting around all day playing video games instead of going outside and getting proper exercise. Children need much stronger self discipline, taught so that they learn what is right and how to control their choices.
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      Feb 27 2012: i think i know what you mean. we should encourage self discipline in general rather than trying to tackle the symptom
  • Feb 27 2012: My kids love watching videos of Erwan Le Corre. They want to do the same... And they do to some extend!
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      Feb 27 2012: wow! I have to admit I hadnt heard of Erwan Le Corre but just youtube'd him. He is my new hero!
      What an awesome role model for kids
      • Feb 27 2012: Kids in the right environment naturally tend to do that. But adults, nowadays tend to stop them.
  • Feb 27 2012: I think children learn from their parents first and by leading a healthy life by choosing healthy food and exercise as a daily routine, parents will automatically inculcate healthy living style for their children. Moreover, to add to that, just by letting them know facts about the benefits of eating carrots/apples (how Carotine in Carrots and Quercetin a chemical found in apples) help in keeping eyes healthy, etc. will inspire them more.
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      Feb 27 2012: Yeah im a big believer in educating rather than indoctrinating. Making it fun is so much more impact full
  • Mar 1 2012: Just a quick comment: have a look at www.schoolsforhealth.eu to see how great ideas are generated and shared in over 40 countries. Truly inspirational stuff.