Eat, Play, Love

by Christine Houde, PHEc, Heart and Stroke Foundation

Spring has finally come to the prairies. The threat of snow is waning, the crocuses are blooming, the garden is beckoning and it’s time to get out there and get active with our families.

But shaking off the winter hibernation habit can be tough. Really tough.

Not to worry, the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s (HSF) got your back. May is physical activity month, and to help families get motivated, HSF is offering a chance to win a specially selected prize, worth $200, and all your family has to do is participate in a physical activity together, and submit a form to HSF explaining what you did (entries must be received during May, 2014). You can get rewarded for something you would do anyway.

And don’t stop there, PLAY IT FORWARD. Over the long term, you’re much more likely to stay active if you have a physical activity buddy to help keep you motivated and having fun. Encourage everyone in your family to participate in physical activities with their friends and colleagues for even more opportunities to submit and win. For more information about the month long challenge, go to heartandstroke.mb.ca/playitforward.

With Play covered, let’s get back to the Eat. Spring is a great time to plant the seed – or re-visit the roots – of investing in family meal time.

Children who eat with their families are more likely to

  • eat more fruits and vegetables
  • eat less saturated and trans fat
  • get more key nutrients such as calcium and fibre
  • accept new foods more readily

Families are more likely to eat together if they eat at home. Families who eat at home are more likely to eat healthy, home-cooked meals.   So what’s holding everyone back? For many people it’s time. Meals from scratch take time to plan, time to shop, and time to prepare. The good news is there are many online tools to help the busy family make heart-healthy choices. Visit the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s meal planning resources for weekly meal plan templates, grocery lists, and time saving tips.

Another great way to save time in the kitchen is to have the kids help. Cooking with children is like having an extra tutoring session while assembling a meal. They can strengthen their math skills, reading comprehension, and manual dexterity. Home cooking with the kids also reinforces messages about healthy eating, encourages independence, and it can be great fun too.

Download the free PDF of kid friendly recipes at Quick and Healthy, recipes the whole family can enjoy, Kids’ Edition, Volume 1.

Wishing you a happy, heart-healthy spring.

Christine Houde is a professional home economist working with the Heart and Stroke Foundation as nutrition and research manager.  With a background in Foods  & Nutrition, she has promoted heart health, healthy eating and family mealtimes to kids and adults across Manitoba for over 12 years; one of her favourite projects is the Quick and Healthy cookbook and media segments initiative produced in partnership with HSF and the Manitoba Canola Growers Association.  Christine also works with the prevention research initiative of HSF, with a focus on reducing chronic disease risk factors for Manitobans. She loves Friday night homemade pizza night with her busy family.