Starting healthy eating habits in early childhood will jumpstart children to a healthy lifestyle. It encourages them to continue the same in the course of their lives, ensuring that many health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, etc. are kept at bay.
School Nutrition Education offers an environment that can positively shape how children think about food and promote healthy eating habits. However, a perfect blend of teacher and parental involvement in a child’s nutrition education will help lay a solid foundation for proper eating habits that will stay with children throughout their lives. Research shows that home support for early learning complements learning at school.
Parents are a child’s very first teachers. Children will be highly influenced to pick nutrition and food behaviours and habits from their parents. The parental role therefore plays a huge role in how a child's eating behaviour takes shape.
Nutrition Tips for Parents to Support School Nutrition Education:
Be involved in homework assignments and aligned with the nutrition education being given to children at school.
Send healthful meals and snacks not just to school but also be consistent in serving the same at home.
Encourage the consumption of whole foods. Include whole grains, a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in meals through the week; for you and your entire family.
Share healthy eating ideas with other adults like caregivers and other family members who play a role in your child's life.
Serve whole foods for snacks instead of processed foods. Vegetable sticks, fruits, nuts and seeds are good snack options.
Reward children with positive feedback and praise not junk food like chips, chocolates, soda, etc. which only undermines the healthy eating habits that needs to be inculcated in them.
Keep mealtimes consistent offering age-appropriate foods and portion sizes.
Make mealtimes important. Do not allow the use of television, mobiles, video games, etc. during mealtimes.
Ensure your child eats at least one meal with family, and having pleasant conversations during mealtimes.
Give children an opportunity to be part of the cooking process and assist you in meal preparations. Being part of the cooking process in an age-appropriate way, has a positive impact on the way children accept and eat their food.
They can help in the kitchen by helping in washing fruits and vegetables needed for meal preps, squeezing lemons, measuring ingredients, beating eggs, setting the table during mealtimes, etc.
Take them grocery shopping occasionally and let them pick out some vegetables and fruits of their choice.
Both parents being involved in meal preps can also help children learn that helping in the kitchen is not role or gender-based. Everyone can help and be part of mealtimes and meal preps.
Teach by example and be a positive role model for your child/children. Eat healthy and stay active each day.
The way children eat influences their growth and health during childhood, during adolescence and for the rest of their adult lives. When parents support the nutrition education being imparted to children at school and reinforce the same by following good eating habits at home, it will translate into children effectively learning and inculcating these healthy behaviours.