3 Ways to Encourage Healthy Eating in the Classroom (or at home)
There is a movement in education. As we begin looking at the holistic individual, schools are now looking at school lunches, breaks and productive ways to spend breaks. The following tips bode well for both parents and teachers looking to create a conversation about food.
- Start a conversation:
Changing habits consciously is a choice. As we see teachers continuously make a presence in the day to day life of our children, we see new conversations arising about food and how it affects bodies and minds. Simply put, begin a conversation about healthy foods. One great way to begin the conversation is to have children create a portrait of themselves using only food items. First, begin by partnering up students into pairs. Have each sketch (or trace) a photo of their buddy. Cut the portraits and leave room for food items. If you’re on a budget, consider using images from the internet. If you want to take it to the next level, use foods purchased from the store. Encourage children to fill their portraits with items they eat for lunch, dinner or even breakfast. Create a gallery walk of each child’s artwork. See Food Face for more.
- Model snacking:
As a teacher or parent, we must practice what we preach, eh? It’s a challenging mantra to follow, but can be done. If you’re a teacher, consider beginning the day by discussing the snacks each child brought that day. Then, towards the end, introduce the healthy snack option you, yourself, brought. Create an environment where children feel comfortable talking about their lunches, what’s in them, who made them and what they enjoy about them. When snack time makes its way onto the agenda, pull out a Luna bar. If your school allows (or hey, this applies to a home environment too), create a taste test. Buy canned foods and fresh foods (canned green beans vs. fresh green beans) and allow students to blindly taste and note observations. Share the findings.
- Encourage parents and staff to work together:
Encourage the community, the school or the staff members to make a change. Make a Healthy Snack Zone in the breakroom. Start a themed picnic and encourage parents and children to cook together. Invite the cafeteria staff and chefs to be a member of the classroom. Learn where the cafeteria food comes from. Make changes, make suggestions.
The important message isn’t about what you bring to school. It’s about how we view food and the conversations surrounding our food choices. As the movement continues, the mindsets altar and the choices become increasingly difficult, create a conversation.