For parents and teachers, getting children to eat a balanced diet is a real challenge. It is a normal phenomenon for a child’s appetite to change through different growth phases. When it comes to food habits, understanding a child’s needs and catering to healthier options must be encouraged by parents and teachers.
Parents can start educating them at home, while teachers may have the task of explaining the need for doing so. How can teachers tackle this crucial matter?
Dear teachers, we have listed down ten fascinating ways to promote healthy eating for your students. This could probably be an eye-opener to your bunch of students, making them wish they had water instead of cola!
- Food for thought
Start from scratch, teach your students the basics of a balanced diet. Use simple terms like ‘good food’, ‘food that is not healthy’ etc. to stimulate interest in them to know more about what they hear.
The food pyramid models can be demonstrated through charts or a simple blackboard diagram which involves some common food items they usually consume. This will also motivate your students to make the right choice, when packing snacks or lunch from home.
- The first important meal
Breakfast is, and should be, the very first meal of your student’s day. No matter what, encourage parents to make their children a wholesome and healthy breakfast before school hours. Without having a meal before an active day at school, children are bound to be lethargic and unproductive.
Educate your students about the importance of having a healthy breakfast. As a class activity, ask your students to talk about what breakfast they had on that day and ask them to group it as healthy or unhealthy. In this way, other students will also learn about good breakfast options.
- Looking at the labels
Teach students to look for the ‘ingredients’ that go into the making of packet foods and beverage cans. Help them to look for the titles on the food pyramid. In this way, students will learn how to choose healthy food over junk food.
As a fun classroom exercise, ask your students to collect food labels from their homes and see if they can figure out which foods are the healthiest.
- Think before you drink!
Children love fizzy drinks. But they are unaware of the fact that it contains a lot of sugars, which make them crave more. Educate your students that soda is not the answer for thirst. Instead, they should have drinks which are loaded with the ‘good stuff’ like fruits. Even a cold glass of milk is a perfect drink for children, especially when they are growing every day.
Encourage your students to take water breaks between classes, so that they are well hydrated throughout the day.
- Plan a cooking demonstration
This is an exciting way to demonstrate healthy eating and picking wholesome snacks. Organise a cooking class by sharing with your students a healthy recipe, like a fruit salad, vegetable wraps, or a trail mix. Not only would it excite students but teach them better snacking options too.
- Schedule a fun field trip
Take your students to a farm or a local market, where they will learn about the different food channels, and how it is procured. Teach them the importance of farming and growing different plants for nutritious food. As homework, ask your students to plant vegetable seeds in their own homes and see how they nurture.
- How much is too much?
The portion size of whatever food they consume is important. So, teach them a few good rules which will allow them to make the right decisions when it comes to food. See to it that they take foods like rice and grains matching to their fist size, proteins like meat, cheese, and fish in palm-size, and fatty foods like butter in thumb size. Always ask your students to analyse what and how much of it goes into their plates.
- Smart on sugar and fats
Tell your students to be wise about choosing foods, especially snacks and drinks which contain high amounts of sugar. Not that you should restrict them from bringing sweets to classrooms, but teach them how a lot of sugar and fatty food like butter in many snacks can give them stomach aches. Fruits are a good alternative to sugary snacks.
- Keep it positive
All your students may be from different cultural backgrounds with different kinds of eating habits, and appearance. Teach your students about various cultural differences and to accept their peers by being ‘food positive’, and not making comments about anyone’s appearance or eating patterns. If negative remarks are made, they tend to food shame others and develop eating disorders.
Always ask students to try a food item before saying ‘No’ to it. This will help them to have a clearer judgment of other foods.
- Enough is enough
Ask your students to listen to their stomachs. Tell them it is best to avoid overeating and undereating, and that they should stop once they think their ‘tummy feels full’.
Teach them how to serve food for themselves, in the quantities they prefer. This will also teach them about food waste and how it impacts the environment.
Most often, parents stress over what their children eat and how other children eat. Ideally, they should decide what’s best for their families and not worry about what others do. The more children know, the more likely that they’ll make better food choices. Teachers should tell students that eating healthy should come naturally as brushing their teeth.