Remember Heinz Winckler? He has advice for you.

Heinz Winckler with his wife and three sons.
Heinz Winckler with his wife and three sons.
He will probably always be known locally as the first winner of South African Idol back in 2002, but this singer with his huge voice and witty, charismatic stage personality has a number of other significant notches in his belt including: 4th place in World Idol, being a Disney soundtrack artist and 3 SAMA nominations.

Heinz is the proud husband of Aletté-Johanni Winckler and father to three boys, Lian, Simeon and Reuben. Here's how he manages food choices at home.

Q&A with Heinz Winckler

1. What, if any, are your absolute non-negotiables when it comes to feeding the boys, e.g. no sugary sodas, no bread, must-have vegetables etc.?

We don’t have any absolutes, we just try to keep a balance. They can have soda or sweets, but we limit it to for example one cream soda over a weekend, and a small sweet after their meal.

They are of course quite picky and specific (like their dad) about what they eat. But, their oumas have an amazing gift to get healthy food into them, that we don’t have! 

2. Do you insist on sitting down to eat as a family, or do you sometimes eat on the run?

The kids still eat quite early, so they have breakfast and dinner at their own little table. They normally eat lunch at school.

Read: Breakfast cereal tied to lower BMI for kids

3. Do you get takeout? If so, what do you prefer and how often do you do it?

Yes, but not so often, and when we do it’s over weekends. We normally get pizza.

When we drive long distances we treat them with a Wimpy or a Steers meal, but even then they would prefer a toasted cheese sandwich.

4. How do you handle the "aisle of death" at the local supermarket which is lined with sweets and chocolates?

Sometimes it’s not an issue and they don’t even ask. Sometimes they ask, but react well to "We have sweets at home, so we’re not getting that now."

Read: Top 10 healthy eating tips for kids

Otherwise, what works well is to get them something small like a Kinder Joy just before you hit that aisle to keep their attention away from the other options.

5. How do you handle parties or play dates where the other children are eating sugary snacks?

Honestly, we don’t do much about it. We know they have all these crazy options at parties, and they eat cupcakes and sweets, but when they’re full, they stop. If we get the idea it’s getting too much, we’ll step in, but usually we allow them to go a bit crazy at a party. 

6. Do you try to make meals fun for the younger boys to encourage them to eat, like using sauce to add smiley faces on their plates? If you do, how do you make meals fun?

Not always. It’s a busy home and meals are mostly functional. But every now and again, on a "chilled" weekend, we have some fun making pancakes or something similar.

Read: How to create healthy party snacks for kids  

I find they like being able to see what you do on the stove and help in some way.

7. Which foods and drinks do you keep at home for when the kids want to snack, e.g. yoghurt, fruit etc.?

Yoghurt, snack bars, bananas, apples and grapes. They also like cheese and viennas.

8. Do any of the boys have food intolerances or allergies like gluten intolerance or a peanut allergy? If so, does the whole family’s diet work around this or do you cook separately?

No, luckily not. 

Read: Teach your kids good eating habits

9. How much water do the kids drink per day? How do you get them to drink enough water?

They like to rinse out their mouths with a cup of water when they brush their teeth. I always encourage them to rinse with some and drink the rest. We try to encourage drinking water when thirsty instead of a cold drink. It’s difficult, but most of the time it works. And after 17:00 they’re only allowed water, milk or rooibos tea if they’re thirsty.

10. Are you strict with getting the boys to bed early enough for them to get the right amount of sleep? (Studies show that insufficient sleep is one of the factors that contribute to obesity.)

Yes. We’re quite strict about that so that they have a steady routine and get enough sleep. They get between 10–11 hours of sleep each night.

Read: Kids who sleep less tend to eat more

11. Do the boys get regular exercise like playing outside instead of sitting in front of screens? If yes, what do they do to keep active?

Yes, we encourage them to play and do physical activities as much as possible. They’re in great schools where they also get a lot of play time on jungle gyms. My oldest is also doing Rugga kids rugby once a week. Whenever I play with them it’s a lot of running and wrestling which is great exercise for all of us! 

12. How do you ensure that the boys get all their minerals, vitamins and omegas?

They all get a vitamin tablet to chew each morning, as well as a shot of super juice into which we squeeze an omega-3.

13. Which vitamins and supplements do you choose for you and your family, and why?

We find that we can get everything we need in one place on

14. Please share your top three tips to help other families keep their kids healthy.

The best way to show your kids you love them is to spend quality time with them. This will keep them healthy and spiritual!

The rest is fairly obvious – help them eat healthy and get daily exercise .

Read more:

Pizza adds too much fat and sodium to kids' diet

Can more time outside keep our kids' eyes healthy?

Tips for healthy school lunches kids will actually eat

Image: Supplied

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