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While in Australia recently, the Naked Chef, Jamie Oliver announced that his successful Ministry of Food Australia program is coming to Victoria and becoming part of the Victorian Healthy Eating Enterprise. The aim of both programs is to promote healthy eating and the skills involved in preparing healthy food.

Coming on the back of the success of a similar venture in Queensland, the program will involve a fixed cooking school, healthy eating classes in fourteen local government areas and is set to reach more than 10000 Victorians.

Working with governments
The Victorian Government has committed $2.87 million to the program while Jamie’s ‘The Good Foundation’ is set to chip in an additional $2.54 million.
The basis of the program can be found in the following:
• Teaching people how to conduct healthy shopping;
• Cooking lessons;
• Looking at food provided by canteens and cafes;
• Mobile kitchens to provide education

The program aims to educate parents which will then, in turn, take steps towards preventing childhood obesity since children eat what parents provide for them. Education that begins early will lead to better food choices now and later in life.

Fighting Obesity
There are 5 main steps involved in the fight against childhood obesity:

1. Prepare kids lunch boxes and snacks. Despite many tuckshops adopting better food choices many options are still not considered healthy enough on a regular basis. By preparing the lunch box yourself you know exactly what your child is eating (and how much). Encourage your child to be involved –
‘Today would you like a banana, an apple or a pear?’ While you are stilling controlling that the lunch box is containing a healthy option, you are empowering your child to make decisions regarding their food choices. A good rule is to make sure that the lunch boxes and other school snacks have at least one of each of the main food groups. Get your child to help with the checklist – a dairy, a fruit, a vegetable, a protein, a grain. Make it a game, make it fun, make it a habit.

2. Reduce pocket money for play lunch. We all remember how enticing the school tuckshop was and how exciting it was to have our own money to spend there, but do you remember ever buying anything healthy? By reducing the amount of money they have to spend, you are reducing the amount of unhealthy purchases your child makes. Ask the tuckshop for a price list or visit the tuckshop with your child and talk to them about healthy choices and sometimes foods. This will also educate you on the prices of what is available. If a small, fruit ice-block costs 50c and a sugar-packed slushie costs $3 – give your child the 50c. They still get to make their own purchase but in a controlled way.

3. Encourage games that are physically challenging. There are so many ways that you, as a parent, can encourage your child to get physical. Instead of driving the shop to grab milk – walk. You can even turn homework into a physical activity. Learn spelling words by bouncing a ball as they spell out the word or playing hopscotch – spell the word written in the chalk on the square they land on. Aim for at least 30 mins of physical activity every day.

4. Read the labels of perceived healthy foods for high sugar. Particularly, pay close attention to yoghurts and breakfast cereals. Because of the dairy and grain content they are assumed as healthy but some sugar contents are amazingly high. Educate yourself to give your kids a healthy start.

5. Drinking water only. There is no need for children to consume soft drinks, fruit juices or flavoured milks. They offer little nutritional value and content high levels of sugar. If you want to give you child a treat throw together a smoothie or make a juice yourself. You will know exactly what is in the drink you are giving to your child.

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Keeping fit and healthy shouldn't be a chore. In fact, exercise should be a regular part of life just like brushing our teeth. Fitstyler helps you create healthy habits. We make it easy to look good and feel great, just by showing you simple changes you can make to what you eat and how often you exercise.

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