As an all-star defensive back in the CFL, it was Tommy Europe’s job to keep up with some of the league’s fastest receivers.
Now, more than 15 years after playing his final pro game, Tommy faces a new challenge: Keeping up with his wife and two young daughters!
When the family visits the local park, he says, people ask “How do you get your kids to jog like that?” Tommy’s reply: “They’re not jogging, they’re playing tag!”
Setting aside time to get active isn’t the only way Tommy helps his loved ones lead healthier lives. What makes a healthy family? What is a healthy family lifestyle? Here are three of his key tips:
Make time to get active
Kids being kids, Tommy says his 7- and 8-year-old girls aren’t always enthusiastic about the family’s regular weekend walks, hikes and bike rides. “But at the end of the day, when I ask them, ‘Aren’t you glad we did that?’ the answer is always ‘yes.’ It’s our routine, and it makes all of us healthier and stronger.”
It’s true: From pick-up road hockey out front of your home to “Dad vs. The World” basketball at a local community court, getting active with the brood doesn’t have to cost a single cent. “There are lots of different ways to get your family active,” Tommy adds. “And the best part? They’re all lots of fun!”
Show them the way
Of course, families don’t have to be together to get active. When it comes to his daughters, Tommy says, getting them moving can be as simple as opening the front door. “Just let your kids go outside and play! Sometimes they don’t need things to be all that structured.”
Those quiet neighbourhood streets and local parks are also ideal for letting the kids do their thing without you. They’ll clamber over rocks and climb trees while you rest up for the next big game of tag.
At the same time, Tommy says, there’s nothing stopping you from being the one who ducks out the door for some healthy time in the great outdoors. “When the kids ask where you’re going, saying ‘for a walk’ or ‘for some fresh air’ sets a great example.”
Keep the veggies coming
“From the beginning we’ve served our kids plenty of veggies,” Tommy says. “Peppers, broccoli, green beans, asparagus, the whole gamut. It’s something we incorporated early and often. People ask, ‘How do you get your kids to eat vegetables? And I say: ‘Well, first of all, they can’t cook!’ We never gave them a choice, so they grew up loving vegetables.”
After all, what kid wouldn’t want to eat their veggies when these quick and easy recipes make them taste so delicious? Here’s how to cook healthy family meals:
- Grilled Broccoli and Tomato Kebabs with Garlic Herb Sauce
- Steak Wrapped Vegetable Rolls
- Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry
- Grilled Avocado & Albacore Tuna Salad
Photography by: Ken Cheng
Adam Bisby is a Toronto-based freelance journalist and father of two. His award-winning stories have appeared in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and National Post newspapers, in magazines like Explore, Reader’s Digest, International Traveller and Canadian Family, and on websites including MSN, MSN Canada, and DontChangeMuch.ca. Visit Adam’s website for more details on his award winning work.