A national emphasis on childhood obesity has prompted many parent groups to seek out ways to promote healthy eating. From labor-of-love pursuits such as a school garden to the subtle inclusion of healthy options at school events, parents are making smart food choices fun and educational. Students who eat full, balanced meals everyday are more likely to perform better academically and behaviorally. The USDA has suggestions for schools to make meals more appealing:
Boost flavor with herbs, spices, or lower-sodium sauces. Use heart-healthy fats like vegetable oils. Encourage frequent selection of whole fruits and vegetables rather than juices. Consider innovative offerings like baked apples, potato-based breading and salads. Prepare pastas and soups with more vegetables and legumes. Engage students in recipe contests and kitchen tours. Create attractive fruit displays, give dishes mouth-watering names, and place fruit and veggies ahead of the main dish. Give students enough time to select and eat their entire meal.
Often, the breakfasts and lunches provided by the school are the best way for children to get the nutrition that they need to concentrate in the classroom. In order to encourage your students to participate in the school lunch program, try these tips for modeling and promoting healthy eating habits.
Healthy foods tend to make you feel better and ready to take on the worldвЂ”encourage students to realize this for themselves through activities that promote healthy choices. For example, have students talk about how they feel after they eat a banana versus how they feel after eating greasy fries. Allow students to make their own choices regarding snacks, but help guide them toward the вЂњrightвЂќ answer. Use this as an opportunity to point out the nutritious snack foods that your school offers and draw attention to the fact that you are eating those yummy, healthy snacks.
If students understand why their body cannot thrive on a constant stream of junk food, they may be more likely to change their eating habits by utilizing school lunches.
Showing students how and where school lunches are made will personalize the food process while acquainting them with the staff. Once students get a firsthand look at the food program, they will see how clean and well-thought out each meal is which will encourage them to eat school lunches.
If you find that there isnвЂ™t enough time to talk about all of the benefits of the school lunch program, help provide students with more information in an age-appropriate way. For younger children, open up a dialogue using this superhero exercise to empower children and prime them for healthy eating. Then play games that teach them about basic nutrition. For older students, provide pamphlets or helpful websites like those of the CDC or USDA so that they can find out more information on their own time. The more they know, the more likely they are to make the right choices.