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?