Parents Helping Parents of Wyoming State Parenting Center

School lunches have changed dramatically over the years since I was in school.  There were no offers of salad bar or fresh fruits and vegetables, wheat or whole grain products, baked rather than fried foods and 1% milk instead of whole milk.  I think you get the picture.

Healthy eating is tied to improved classroom performance.   Providing nutritious hot lunches is a challenge and an ongoing process of providing better nutritious meals in schools.  Many schools have risen to the challenge and are continuing to find new ways to achieve this.

Almost one out of three children has weight issues.  All of us need to work together (school, community and home) to achieve healthier eating habits in our kids.

So what can parents do at home?

1)      Focus on good health.  Teach and model healthy eating habits.

2)      Change the whole family’s eating patterns.  (The whole family may lose weight and become healthier)

3)      Have healthy foods on hand at home.

4)      Don’t force a child to “clean his plate”.   Let him decide when he’s full.

5)      Make healthy lifestyle changes not changes based solely on weight issues.  Forgo that slice of cheese on your hamburger. 

6)      Let children help in planning, shopping and preparing meals.  They’ll learn from your example.

7)      Help children understand that sweets such as candy, cookies, cake etc. can be eaten in moderation-just not every day, like everything-moderation is the key.  If you deprive children of occasional treats they will likely overeat.

8)      Plan healthy snacks.

9)      Don’t overdo on fruit juices.  They provide calories but not as many nutrients.

10)   Encourage exercise alone or with the family.  Make it a family affair where everyone benefits from increased quality time, potential weight loss to decreased health issues. 

11)   Become knowledgeable about healthy eating and exercise. 

Any other suggestions that I may have missed? What do you think about the timing of this post, is healthy eating at school even realistic during the holiday months?

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Comments on: "Nutrition at School and Home." (11)

  1. Julie said:

    Such great discussion about kids and nutrition. This is an issue that my family has committed to changing over the years. One of the most important things we have done is committed to never eating fast food (occasionally we make an exception for Subway)We also have a rule that something fresh has to be eaten with every meal- fruit or veggie not frozen or canned. This has made a huge difference in the kinds of foods my kids eat. Now at 8 and 11 they automatically eat their friet and veggie with out being asked (or bribed) I agree that school lunches have a long way to go. We decided to allow our kids 3 hot lunches a month- they hardly ever chose them though and often complain they are gross.
    The school that Juantita’s and my daughter attend, did something really cool this year. They flip/flopped Lunch and Recess- the kids have a full 30 minutes to eat their lunch and are not rushing out the door!

  2. Blanca Moye said:

    I love all your tips, but also I think the importance to do family out activities during the year is important.
    Hike, bike, play with snow, walk, etc is very fun and healthy skill. Plan weekly activities as family help too.

    • Jan jones said:

      WOW, how things have changed for the better. Rather than the normal mac and cheese now there is a choice. Favorite menu in the Cheyenne Schools are cinnamon rolls and chili!

  3. Downeychick said:

    I see great strides in our school lunches, offering many more choices, and most of them healthier, I feel. I would hope the school lunch would continue to be healthy during the holidays, with the parties being the issue. As many have pointed out, balance is the key! Working with the teachers to plan the menu is a good option, as a former First Grade teacher, I didn’t care to see all of the “junk” that came to parties! I started requesting that anything sent to school be individually wrapped so that many of the treats could be taken home and enjoyed over a span of time! Thanks for the information.

  4. I think modeling appropriate food choices, healthy grocery shopping, hobbies that include outdoor pursuits, etc. all play an important role in shaping our children’s thoughts about food.

  5. Michele said:

    I like that ours schools are not only trying to focus on healthier lunches and making breakfast available to the kids, they are also offering opportunities for excersing. Some schools offer an after school gym class and others offer excercise in the morning.

  6. Parent2 said:

    Our school lunches are fairly healthy where I live. We have a fresh fruit and vegetable daily. I do not like the option for chocolate milk at lunch,though. Too much sugar. Also, I would like to see more unprocessed meat. Ours has soy filler in it.

  7. Janet,

    I liked this article a lot, very relevant to my family situation. My 4th grader likes hot lunch, but they only have the salad bar option once or twice a week. On the other days, it is filled with fruit drowned in syrup. With the holidays coming up, there will be many classroom parties with goodies & sugary sweets. As the classroom “mom,” I always make sure that there is a good balance of food at the parties, such as fruit & veggie tray, and I ask for bottled water donations instead of juice or Kool-Aid. Of course, we still have cookies, but I believe that balance is the key.

  8. Tammy Dexter said:

    Janet great suggestions and advice. I agree with Tammy that the school lunches are healthier than what they use to be, but still need improvements. Districts are slowly making progress towards providing healthier choices at school for our children and limiting the access to junk food. Hopefully, they will continue improving the meals and choices.

  9. Janet, I agree with you. I don’t feel like school lunch is that healthy. Schools need to take a closer look at what they feed our children. This year, my daughters’ school eliminated the salad bar. Although their idea of fresh was frozen strawberries in syrup and iceberg lettuce (that has next to no nutritional value). It was better than nothing. Now the majority of what she eats is processed. So, I have to make sure that she gets her fresh fruits and veggies at home.

  10. Tammy Wilson said:

    Alot of good information Janet. I feel that school meals have became alot healther in the last few years. The one thing that still bothers me is how fast the children are exspected to eat. Meals should be more relaxing, I realize alot of children have to be fed in a short amount of time but 15 minutes is to short for most children. It seems to me even ten minutes longer would help. Children are either gulping down there food or not eating most of it. Even healthy food needs to be consumed in a moderate amount of time.

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