Much like most parents, there is nothing more important to me than my children’s health and happiness. Having a son with Type 1 Diabetes means that I am really aware of the need to keep a healthy balance for the boys when it comes to diet and exercise.
However, I know a lot of people are always shocked to hear that someone with Type 1 Diabetes can eat the exact same foods as everyone else. There’s no need for special ‘diabetic’ foods, and just like anyone else he can eat anything … well, anything he will agree to eat anyway.
I want my children to be as healthy as possible and to eat as healthily as I can manage as well. However, I don’t want this to happen in a way that makes them unhappy. Yes, I do make them eat things that they don’t want to sometimes, as otherwise, no vegetables would ever cross their lips.
I do allow them treats as well. I would hate for them to end up sneaking food otherwise or suddenly eating non-stop junk when they get older with the allure of forbidden fruit … well not fruit, but you know what I mean. Food is a big part of life, and I want being healthy to still mean being happy for my children.
This is where the balance comes in, between what we eat and what we do physically.
We love a good picnic as a family, there’s something pretty special about being able to sit together and watch waves crashing against the cliffs, or listening to the sounds of small animals and birds in the woods. Having a picnic always means a long walk for us as well.
Having a picnic ready to eat at our destination, can make the walk seem a lot more worth it and fun to the boys.
Living in Cornwall, we really are spoilt for choice when it comes to picnic locations. I even like to have my own mini picnics sometimes, when I go for a walk with my camera. Just my camera, backpack and me. Pretty much as blissful as it sounds.
For the boys, when it comes to having healthy options, I stick to ‘normal’ food. I do however choose a healthier option of that type of food. The boys love yogurts, but it is alarming quite how many of the ingredients I often don’t recognise when reading the labels. They don’t really taste like yogurt, they taste like squidgy sugar to me.
I was pleased when Yeo Valley asked me to feature them in a post, as I hadn’t actually come across their children’s yogurts before. Although I eat the more grown up ones myself. I popped out and bought the four pack Little Yeos which are creamy Yogurt, some puréed fruit (real organic strawberry, raspberry, apricot or peach) and just a little bit of organic sugar.
Everything in the yogurts is organic and the label shows all ingredients that I actually understand what they are. I do like to know what I am giving to the boys.
Yeo Valley also sells natural and fruited fromage frais Little Yeos in a smaller portion size. Perfect for weaning, as they don’t have added refined sugar and are only made wth organic British milk. We bought the bigger, more grown up looking yogurts for the boys for school, and they actually taste like yogurt.
We make other small choices that the boys don’t really notice as well. Neither of them will eat wholemeal bread as they say it is too filling. They do however, love small bread wholemeal thins. Unlike vegetables, luckily they willingly scoff a lot of fruit. I love to have a rainbow of colour for them food wise, so long as those colours occur naturally of course!
Both are also big fans of chocolate topped rice cakes, which I find a much better alternative to chocolate or chocolate biscuits for a small treat. They do still eat chocolate etc, but when I can I do get them to eat an alternative. They see the rice cakes as a fun treat though, mostly as they know that I love them, and don’t children just always love stealing your food?
I don’t worry too much about them having treats sometimes, as although I love them to keep things as natural as possible, they are so active that I feel it evens things out. Even when we are at home, they are always outside playing with their friends, unless it is raining a lot. Plus sometimes my eldest really does need a boost for his blood glucose levels.
Both of the boys love sports, one plays for the school football team and they are both always kicking a ball around. When we go out for family walks and picnics, often it turns into a fun race. A challenge to see who can get to the top of a huge hill first, to the sea first, or similar … a lot of pushing and shoving usually happens. I rarely win these days, their legs are getting too long for my little ones to keep up.
We often also take a football with us on our walks, or tennis rackets, a rugby ball or something else to keep them amused. As beautiful as Cornwall is, they are so used to it that sometimes they need an extra incentive rather than the stunning views, to get them keen to come with us.
Sometimes, they bring their scooters if we’re going to the woods, which helps to keep them happy, even if it probably ruins the tranquility for the people around us.
This is always a good exercise for us as well, trying to keep up with them!
I never claim to be a perfect parent, I worry sometimes that they do eat too many sweets or treats. However, like any parent, I do my best to keep them healthy, keep them happy and find that balance for them.
If you would like to try and get your own children a little more active, or eating a little more healthily, then here’s my little list of tips that you could try. Or you can completely ignore me, I won’t be offended!
Make gradual changes to their diet
If you suddenly try to make them eat more healthily all at once, then you could meet some heavy resistance. Instead gradually switching to brands with fewer additives and less refined sugar, can help.
Being a bit sneaky helps as well, extra vegetables cut up into very small pieces can be easily sneaked into casseroles, other dishes and even gravy. Try one change at a time, they are much less likely to notice.
Go on more picnics
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love a good picnic. Going on a picnic is a good excuse for a long walk as a family, and even if you don’t walk far, fresh air can do you all the world of good.
You can also take something to play with on a picnic. Why not re-enact your own schooldays, with a family game of rounders or cricket? Or go on the swings with the children, and race to see who can go the highest.
This might sound odd, but in our family, a hint of competition can lead to a lot more activity on a walk or in other ways. This can be a race to get to a certain point, a race to see who can tidy their toys the quickest, or even a race to see who can do 20 star jumps the fastest.
The element of competition and racing will get children (and you!) doing things more quickly. The quicker they move, the faster that heart rate will be going. Also, exercise produces endorphins for a bit of a feel good factor.
Play Follow the Leader
Or ‘I can do what you do’, or whatever you wish to call it. I have always played a game with my own children, where we take it in turn to be the leader. The leader does all sorts of random things, from 5 sit-ups or 20 star jumps to pretending to be an elephant with a trunk, who has the hiccups. It really does get that random in our home.
It’s just a really fun way to get everyone in the house moving around. We’ve always ended up in hysterics whenever we have played it.
Basically to me eating a little more healthily + exercise + endorphins = happy, healthier children. Which has to be a good thing.
Do you have any tricks for getting children to be more active or any sneaky ways that you get more vegetables into children who think they are on par with rat poison?