Children are likely to eat the same as their parents. As parents, you can be a positive role model for healthy eating. By purchasing and preparing nutritious balanced meals, you can establish a healthy diet at home.
A healthy environment at home is a good start, but the kids take most of their meals at school. By sending your kids to school with nutritious lunches and encouraging healthy choices for school events, you can also help to create a healthy nutritional environment in schools.
The offering healthy foods at school improves student learning. Research shows that children who have a healthy diet are:
• more willing to learn;
• more likely to achieve better results at school;
• less likely to have chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer.
The government is working with schools, educators and parents to encourage healthy eating at school. In April 2008, the Act on Healthy Food for Healthy Schools was passed to make schools healthier learning environments. By working together and making all our part, we can help our children to make healthier choices.
Create a healthier school environment
The idea supporting the Act on Healthy Food for Healthy Schools is to help children make healthier food choices. This means that healthy and tasty foods should be made available to children in schools.
In September 2011, the Ontario schools will implement the policy on food and beverages in schools. It provides guidance on the types of foods that can be sold in school cafeterias, vending machines and at school events. Policy helps schools determine which foods they can or can not sell.
Your children need YOU
Wherever possible, try to participate in the school life of your child, making sure that the foods offered in the school are healthy. Make your voice heard. Here are some ideas:
• Talk to your child and tell him why healthy foods are important in school and why some food he could buy during the previous school year are no longer available.
• Prepare lunches and healthy snacks to school with your child.
• Join a parent / teacher committee to help make good decisions on proposed school food.
• Opt for healthy recipes at bake sales and fundraisers with the proposed ideas Bake it Up!(English only).
What can you do to encourage healthy eating?
The Policy on food and beverages in schools covers only food sold at school. It does not apply to meals from home. Does this mean that you should not put anything in any lunch box for your child? No, especially if you encourage healthy eating! It is important to be consistent and to provide healthy meals for your children at home and at school. This will allow them to learn to make healthy choices for food.
At the grocery store:
Choose products from the four food groups of Canada’s Food Guide.
Go shopping with your children to teach them to make good choices. They can learn the value of food, provenance and revenue opportunities.
Teach your children to read food labels. Watch these videos on nutrition labeling with your children.
During the preparation of lunch:
Involve your children in the selection and preparation of food. When children are involved in meal preparation, they are more likely to consume.
Get creative! Use cookie cutters to make sandwiches fun shapes, make fruit kebabs and pastries offer whole grain low fat. Read the FAQ Prepare lunches and healthy snacks for students for more ideas.
During the meal:
Eat together as often as possible. Children who eat with their parents (at least four times per week) tend to eat more fruits and vegetables, have a higher fiber intake, eat less fried foods and drink less soda.
They are also less prone to being overweight or obese.
Be a good role model. When you make healthy food choices for yourself, you teach your children to eat healthily.