Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Back to School: what are they going to eat?

A new school year is about to start, and the question of what children are going to eat during their school day again becomes a hot issue. Recent studies have shown what should have been long dictated by common sense alone – that children who get better nutrition also perform better in class and get better grades.
But the role of good nutrition for school kids extends beyond children's achievements in the short and long run. It should be an educational goal, which is every bit as important as grades. Schools aim to not only teach but also educate; educating children about good nutrition and how important it is for their health should be among the top priorities of our educational system.

Swedish schools have taken a major step in this direction, adopting the idea of "pedagogic lunches" that teachers eat alongside their students.
In many other countries, education for good nutrition by schools remains sadly underdeveloped. Despite initiatives as Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" to fight children's obesity, children are still exposed to a wide variety of unhealthy food products – especially snacks and soft drinks. They consume these products in quantities that threaten their health no less than smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol.
Parents should therefore keep a watchful eye over what their children eat in school, even if the school their children go to has adopted policies aimed at providing its students with healthier nutrition. Parents' involvement in their children's nutrition is the only way to teach healthy eating habits. Here are a few useful advises parents should follow.
Children Should not Go to School on an Empty Stomach
The old saying about breakfast being the most important meal of the day reflects a very basic nutritional truth: the level of children's performance and attention in class, especially in the early hours, will be much higher if they attend lessons after eating breakfast.
Eating breakfast at home should always be the preferred option, even for children whose school's cafeteria offers breakfast. Children may not have enough time to eat at school, and parents have a much better control over what their children eat at home.

Children's Lunch Should be Carefully Reviewed
Preparing and packing the children's lunch is always a better option than sending them to eat at the school's cafeteria. Again, keeping control over what children eat is the best way to ensure that they get the healthy food they need.
Parents who don't have the time to prepare their children's lunch should visit their children's school to see what is offered by the school's cafeteria and vending machines. They should pick the healthy products in the menu and explain to their children that these are the things they should be eating.
Involving the children in the process is important. The choice of food for the school lunch should be agreed upon between parents and their children; otherwise it will be ineffective in the long run. Parents should explain the importance of healthy food to their children, and why certain food products should be avoided even if they are sold within the school. Parents should also be willing to compromise if their children want to add an unhealthy product to his lunch, as long as it mostly consists of healthier products. This is true for both lunches prepared at home and those sold in the school's cafeteria.

The Children's Nutrition outside School Should also be Monitored
School meals are only a part of the children's daily nutrition. It's important to keep an eye over what the children eat with friends or at dinner. It is equally important to set a personal example – if parents don't eat healthy, they'll have a hard time convincing their children to do so. Again, monitoring the children's nutrition should be a collaborative process, not a struggle.
Parents should explain to their children the importance of healthy nutrition, and avoid a strict ban on all unhealthy food products. Instead, they should make it clear that eating such products should not become a habit.

No comments:

Post a Comment