Amra Silajdžić - Džeko supported UNICEF's project “Nutrition Friendly Schools”
We enjoy the most when we prepare meals together
In spite of numerous business obligations, Amra Silajdžić-Džeko’s dedication to her family is in the first place. The most successful Bosnian model, actress, TV host, and entrepreneur has already achieved many professional goals, both in our country and abroad. She says that she has many more plans. However, for her, the healthy growing up of her children is a priority above all others.
Amra is known as a person, who devotes great attention to health and often promotes a healthy lifestyle in public. Like her husband. The best Bosnian soccer player Edin Džeko, Amra is also engaged in humanitarian work. It is therefore not a surprise that she gladly responded to our invitation to support the project “Nutrition Friendly Schools,” which UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina conducts under the slogan “Eat Well, Grow Well", with the aim of raising awareness about the importance of adopting and nurturing the principles of healthy nutrition among children in kindergartens and schools throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina.
During her career, she changed her address of residence many times and currently lives with her family in Rome. She says that every country has its own local customs, but that everyone agrees in one – the health of children is in the first place. As the mother of three children – Sofija, Una, and Dani, Amra thinks that it is very important in early childhood to teach children the importance of a healthy lifestyle, not only in terms of food but also sports, socializing and understanding. Despite many responsibilities and a very dynamic life, she shared her thoughts and experiences with us about the importance of a balanced diet for a healthy growing up of children.
Except as a professionally accomplished and successful woman, you are known as a mother and a wife, who is very dedicated to her family. Can you tell us what are the experiences with the diet of the children in your family, how much time do you devote to preparing healthy meals, and how do you plan your meals?
I must admit that I am a very dedicated mother and that I am fortunate that I can spend most of my free time with my children. As my three children are of different ages, so are our meals adapted to it. We enjoy preparing meals together, where everyone participates on his or her own. Mostly we eat meals with a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, cereals and dairy products, which we all like.
Through the program “Nutrition Friendly Schools” UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina want to raise awareness of the importance of healthy nutrition for the proper growth and development of children. In your opinion, how important is it to promote a healthy lifestyle since early childhood?
I think that it is very important to learn the importance of a healthy lifestyle in early childhood. And not only in terms of food but also sports, socializing and understanding. I love spending hours playing with children and in outdoor activities when we are all relaxed, whether it is sunny or rainy. Is there anything better than jumping in puddles or running barefoot on sand. We were doing all of that when we were children…
You have achieved a successful international career, and you are currently living with your family in Rome. Can you tell us what kind of diet is promoted among children in schools and kindergartens in Italy? Have you had a similar experience in other countries and how much does that experience differ from that in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
Every country has its own local customs, but I think that everyone agrees in one – the health of children is in the first place. Although we live in a time of digital media in which trends are imposed overnight, I think it is important that, when it comes to food, we keep what our mother taught us. When it comes to comparison between Bosnia and Herzegovina and other countries in which I have lived, I think that the basic difference is that in foreign schools, there are canteens in which children can have a real warm meal during classes, as opposed to our schools where children are mainly buying sandwiches or snacks in the closest stores.
Very often we can hear that parents say that they do not have the time or money to prepare healthy meals every day. How do you coordinate your professional duties and commitment to preparing healthy meals for your children?
Yes, parents are very busy nowadays and often uncoordinated in their commitment to children and work. But I personally think that each of us can find time to prepare fresh salad, juice or homemade soup.
Often children refuse to eat fruits or vegetables. How do you manage to convince your children to eat healthy food?
I spend most of my time playing with my children and in that way, I try to make healthy meals interesting to them. So, babies eat fresh fruits and vegetables, and Sofija is already aware of how healthy nutrition is important for the health and vitality of the whole organism. Of course, like all children, sometimes they reject certain food, but mostly we make “arrangements”.
Consumption of sweets, snacks or so-called fast food is something that causes headaches to many parents. How do you approach this type of food?
We all like snacks, but I am trying to make them somehow different in our house. So, for example, we often make popcorn, the classical one made of corn and children truly enjoy and join me in preparation. With popcorn we serve freshly squeezed juice, tea or water.
Parents often use different “tricks” in order to persuade their children to eat in a balanced and healthy manner. Do you have any advice that you would like to share with other mothers?
There are no magic tricks for raising children. We must provide an example for our children, in everything, including diet and lifestyle. If we adhere to healthy lifestyle habits, then our children should follow this path.
What are the favorite healthy foods that are consumed in your family?
Carrot, pepper, cabbage, all kinds of citrus, apple as the queen of fruit, then nuts, pumpkin, potatoes, green root plants, legumes, fresh cheese, and yogurt. I find it very sweet when Dani eats fresh peppers while I am preparing wok.
You, as well as your husband, through your professional and humanitarian work, often promote a healthy lifestyle. What would you tell the parents in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
Our only message is to be with your children, participate in their lives and be an example when it comes to important things. Time passes so quickly and now is the right time to give your children what they need the most, and that is attention, love, and healthy growing up.
UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina conducts the project “Nutrition Friendly Schools” in cooperation with the competent ministries, public health institutes, NGO Public Health Partnership and the Association of Chefs of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Under the slogan “Eat Well, Grow Well", our goal is to, together with children, parents, and teaching staff, develop awareness of the importance of adopting and nurturing healthy lifestyle habits.
The goal of the project, which is implemented according to the methodology of the World Health Organization, is not only to promote healthy diet among children and youth, but also to influence the adoption of appropriate policies at the level of educational institutions that would place healthy living habits in the general program and continuously promote them.