As concerned parents who want their children to be successful in life, it is necessary for you to invest in their health. Strive to give your school-going children a variety of nutritious foods and well balanced diet so that they can grow and remain healthy. Appropriate food selection and healthy eating habits need to be inculcated among school children. The following is a general guide to help you in choosing healthy food for children so that they will be able to eat healthily and learn to enjoy nourishing food:
Inform children that all foods could meet their nutritional requirement. There is no good or bad food. The key to good nutrition is moderate intake and good/appropriate selection of food. Teach them about good nutrition in a simple way. For example, yoghurt and milk can help in the growth of strong bones and teeth or carrots help you to see in the dark.
- Use positive informationInform children that all foods could meet their nutritional requirement. There is no good or bad food. The key to good nutrition is moderate intake and good/appropriate selection of food. Teach them about good nutrition in a simple way. For example, yoghurt and milk can help in the growth of strong bones and teeth or carrots help you to see in the dark.
- Focus on the selection of nutrient-rich foodsAlways encourage your child to choose foods that are rich with nutrients at the school canteen. Guide them to select foods such as:
- Bright coloured fruits as snacks compared to candies.
- Variegated vegetables.
- Foods that are fortified with nutrients, rich in dietary fibre and whole meal grains.
- Milk drinks compared to cordials.
- Less oily or sweet dishes.
- Dishes which contain legume products such as tempe and bean curd apart from chicken, meat and fish.
- Fix a family ground rule on eating and food choices It would be easier for children to choose foods if they know the family ground rules. For example, everyone in the family must have their breakfast everyday. Milk is the drink of choice after dinner or snacks in school must be from the 5 food groups in the Food Pyramid. The snacks should be low in salt, sugar and not oily. When eating out, fix some guidelines which need to be followed such as ordering fruit juice or plain water instead of cordials or carbonated drinks.
- Be the role modelChildren are easily influenced by their environment and people who are close to them. As parents, your food preference will affect your children. If you choose healthy meals, your children would also emulate you.
Apart from being a role model, discuss with your children about the Food Pyramid and the variety of delicious dishes that can be enjoyed.
- Cook togetherChildren get excited and keen to eat healthy foods when they are given the opportunity to prepare meals. Involve them when preparing meals. Allow them to be creative and add whatever they like in the food. Let them have cooking sessions with friends or go to cooking classes together.
- Go grocery shopping togetherGet your children to go grocery shopping with you, or if you have a garden, urge them to help plant vegetables or fruits. Choose foods rich with nutrients. Guide them in choosing one or two packaged favourite snacks to take to school.
- Discuss about healthy food selection wherever you areAlways discuss with your children about selecting food judiciously and why healthy eating is important for learning as well as to be more active at school. Whether at the fast food restaurant, school canteen or vending machine, encourage them to choose nutrient rich foods such as milk drinks or fruit juice compared to carbonated drinks, sandwiches compared to potato crisps.
Explain to them that you always make healthy food selection when buying kitchen essentials and when eating out.
- Make healthy food easily availableKeep a supply of nutritious ready-to-eat food at home. These include a variety of variegated fruits such as bananas, guava, apples and oranges and vegetables that can be eaten raw such as lettuce, cucumber and tomato (not many of our children eat vegies raw) and low fat or flavoured milk, cheese, yoghurt, whole grain snacks or low fat and sugar biscuits. Remind your children that they can choose these foods if they are hungry and need food in a hurry.
- Make meal time as family time
Make meal time as the most important time for the whole family. It could be any meal time that you think suitable, not necessary dinner time only. Eating together can encourage healthy eating habits. Involve the children in planning and preparing meals, and eating place. This will help them learn about the importance of choosing nutritious food and eating together.
|Last reviewed||:||19 April 2012|
|Writer||:||Pn. Siti Mariam binti Ali|
|Reviewer||:||Pn. Jamilah binti Ahmad|