Rahul Education

school promote healthy eating among students

HOW CAN SCHOOLS PROMOTE HEALTHY EATING AMONG STUDENTS

School communities are increasingly becoming places where healthy habits can flourish. The responsibility for teaching children healthy habits does not fall only on teachers though.

A healthy school community involves all partners and sends children the same message in the home, school, and community. Children who attend a healthy school can make informed, healthy decisions that affect their own lives and the lives of their families. It doesn’t take a lot to create a healthier school. 

Some changes include:

  • Incorporating healthy eating and physical activity across the curriculum in fun and creative ways.
  • Creating partnerships with the broader community, for example local food growers, sporting clubs, library etc.
  • Providing professional development opportunities for teachers and other support staff to teach and promote healthy eating and being active.
  • Healthy eating

Schools can encourage good nutritional habits by:

 

Developing a whole school food policy:

  • Involving pupils and parents in guiding food policy and practice within the school, and enabling them to contribute to healthy eating, and acting on their feedback
  • Offering healthy foods in school canteens
  • Providing clean, cool-water fountains
  • Assessing the food provided at the school canteen and vending machines
  • Providing parents with information on healthy food choices and active living
  • Developing a school vegetable garden
  • Offering regular snack breaks for students to eat fruit and vegetables
  • Allowing students to bring their water bottles into the classroom with them
  • Providing a welcoming eating environment that encourages positive social interaction.
  • Physical activity

Ways in which schools can help students to become more active include:

      • Developing a whole school physical activity policy, which encourages all staff and students to be physically active, then implement, monitor and evaluate it for impact
      • Providing a school environment that encourages being active, for example adequate playground facilities, access to equipment, walking paths etc.
      • Providing secure bike racks or storage to encourage students and staff to ride to work
      • Scheduling more physical education and physical activity
      • Involving students in decisions about the school environment
      • Including students when deciding the type of physical activity to be undertaken, making them more committed to participation
      • Providing parents/carers with the opportunity to be involved in the planning and delivery of physical activity opportunities
      • Ensuring that adequate time is spent on developing fundamental motor skills.

Be a role model:

Positive modelling by school staff is important to support healthy eating and physical activity policies and actions. It helps to show leadership and commitment that others, such as students and parents, can be inspired by.

Teachers are in a good position to act as positive role models for students, parents and the community. As a teacher, you know that students watch what you say and do very carefully. Any difference between your words and your actions is picked up quickly. This can be frustrating, but keep in mind that students learn by watching and copying the behaviour of others.

A teacher who makes healthy choices – including healthy eating and regular physical activity – can have a good influence on the health of students, others and most importantly, yourself.:

Schools and teachers can model healthy eating and being active at school by:

  • Packing a healthy lunch and taking the time to eat it.
  • Providing healthy snacks at school and staff functions.(staff meetings, parent-teacher interviews, etc.)
  • Using non-food rewards (pencils, skipping ropes) instead of lollies and sweets.
  • Walking rapidly during yard duty.
  • Joining in the activities during physical education classes, recess or lunchtime.
  • Using public transport for school excursions – it is often cheaper and you can get in your physical activity for the day.
  • Taking activity breaks during classes.
  • Supporting physical activity opportunities during and after school.
  • Sharing your physical activity interests with students.

One exceedingly challenging task is getting kids to eat right. Implementing right eating habits is necessary. Let us look at how it is possible to encourage healthy eating in school.

Green Ain’t Always Mean:

Kids must be made to realise that while the greens on their plate may look dismal or taste yucky, greens add to their mental and physical growth. The methodology used should kick in, so that they comprehend the advantages of kale, spinach, or any other green that they detest.

Healthy Junk Options:

Children hardly ever gravitate to the best eating options available. If you want them to eat right, stop forcing them, lead by example instead. That will get the child’s attention before insisting on a greasy alternative.
In school, a wide range of options that also include the so-called junk food can be included in the meal. Instead of a greasy patty on the burger buns, use a healthier alternative. French fries with the burgers can be baked not fried. Schools should also make a note of children prone to allergies.

Involve children in creating a veggie and fruit garden in school:

As an activity, it is a wonderful medium for them to plant seeds and saplings and watch them grow while they nurture their little plant baby. Once they nurture the plants, they will want a piece of the pie. It is as simple as that – kids love projects that offer them something in return.

Snacking is not Bad:

Schools should also include snacks for kids, Snacks that are not oily, buttery or have excessive trans fats. Children should be able to pop their favourite snacks. If not they are bound to get cranky, throw a fit or lose attention. The snack should not be bad for the system.
The school can also offer a cheat’s day off, when they include something interesting for the students to indulge in, like chocolate cake or a dessert. That will get them thinking on the lines of eating right.

Brisk Routine:

Include physical activity without imposing too many rules. Some children are not inclined to play sport, but they must be energised and encouraged to do something instead of staying put. Include simple exercises that should get them on the right track. It will also stop obesity from setting in. School staff should also participate in physical activities. By doing so, kids can bond with their teachers without feeling that they are being singled out. Evidence has proven that exercise and eating right are great for the brain and body.

Parents and School

The school and parents must work together in formulating healthy eating activities. Some families are vegan, some follow religious rules, some eat out often, some prefer meat for every meal. These important factors must be factored in a healthy eating plan. Children tend to be pedantic about certain foods, which may or may not be good for them. Work out a compromise with kids where they have their cake, and eat it with certain conditions attached. They must adhere to the rules like finishing everything on their plates. Once that is done they get a packet of chips (baked not fried) or chocolate. This should not be a constant though. The school staff should follow the same set of rules.

Fun Food:

Food should never be tasteless at anytime, anywhere. Everyone wants tasty food with pep. Make food appealing, not bland. Shake things up a bit with the range of grub available. Eating the same food every single day is boring for anyone. The objective is to encourage good eating habits not discourage them. Include a smiley in the potato mash for instance or something funny with the meat and veggies. Alternatively, go the sous chef way and get creative. That will be the talk of the school and kids will eat better.

Eat Right at Night:

Food benefit nights must be followed at home as well. Kids must be provided with the right amounts of fun healthy food that does not sap their energy causing them to lose interest. One rule of thumb that must be included in every home and school, is to discourage the consumption of aerated drinks.

Emphasis should be on drinking the right amount of water every single day. If the child wants a drink, include a fresh fruit juice
with limited sugar.
At the end of it all, kids will be kids. There are days when they will want something unhealthy that is natural. Adults also crave unhealthy food for that matter! Once kids start eating right, they will not be interested in greasy grub. However, if they still crave it, a day off, is not a bad deal.
It’s your health, too!
Here is the best part. When you model healthy habits, your own health improves. By choosing to eat healthy foods and be physically active, you will find that you are more alert, have more energy, smile more, remember more and generally feel better about yourself.

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mamta singh

Dr. Mamta Singh

B.A | B.Ed | M.A | Persuing M.Ed
School Principal at Rahul Education, Queen Mary’s High School

FAQS

Implement a comprehensive physical activity program with quality physical education as the cornerstone. Children and teens should participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Physical education classes, recess and the encouragement of walking and bicycling to school can all be a part of this.

The food and drink provided in schools can make a positive contribution towards giving children and young people a healthy balanced diet and encouraging them to develop good eating habits.

Schools play an important role in shaping lifelong healthy eating habits by offering nutritious meals through federal child nutrition programs  . School meals include milk, fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, and they provide key nutrients like calcium and fibre.

To improve nutrition, schools can include healthier food offerings in the cafeteria and eliminate marketing of unhealthy foods. To improve activity, schools can develop safe walking and biking routes to school, and can promote active recess time.

A vast body of research shows that improved nutrition in schools leads to increased focus and attention, improved test scores and better classroom behavior. Healthy school food can also increase school connectedness and reinforce to children, families and community that students’ health and well-being are valued.

Schools can encourage good nutritional habits by: Developing a whole school food policy. Involving pupils and parents in guiding food policy and practice within the school , and enabling them to contribute to healthy eating, and acting on their feedback. Offering healthy foods in school canteens .

Nutrition education is a set of learning experiences designed to assist in healthy eating choices and other nutrition-related behavior. Nutrition education is delivered through multiple venues and involves activities at the individual, community, and policy levels.

Schools play an important role in helping students establish healthy eating behaviours, by providing: Nutritious and appealing foods and beverages.  Consistent and accurate messages about good nutrition. Ways to learn about and practice healthy eating.

Background Proper nutrition is crucial for enhancing brain function and improving learning. Over time, large evidence has existed to show that childhood under nutrition, marked by stunting, is connected with age-long reduction in cognitive and academic achievement.

Children with insufficient diets are reported to have more problems with health, academic learning, and psychosocial behavior. Malnutrition can result in long-term neural issues in the brain, which can impact a child’s emotional responses, reactions to stress, learning disabilities, and other medical complications.

Research has shown that students are able to learn better when they’re well nourished, and eating healthy meals has been linked to higher grades, better memory and alertness, and faster information processing.

Children with insufficient diets are reported to have more problems with health, academic learning, and psychosocial behavior. Malnutrition can result in long-term neural issues in the brain, which can impact a child’s emotional responses, reactions to stress, learning disabilities, and other medical complications.

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