Starting a Conversation About Food and Nutrition with Our Kids
We invited Vicki Loberman, a wellness coach and personal trainer, to conduct a workshop series with our teachers on nutrition and kids. The research is clear on the value and importance of healthy eating, but how do we weave that thinking into our school culture and start that conversation with our kids? And do our students really notice if we, as teachers, tuck into a portion of carrot sticks instead of potato chips during snack?
In our first session with Vicki, we discussed ways to provide healthy snacks, something we are committed to. We even sampled lentil chips, crunchy chickpeas and pirate’s booty. It looks like there might be some taste-testing in our students’ future (what better way to find out which snacks fly with them?!). We got a thumbs-up for adding cooking club for our older students and think it would be a great venue to discuss nutrition and cook healthy options. We also heard about the advantages of switching to organic milk and having water readily available and in sight during the day. Vicki talked to us about what she calls the 5 hidden dangers for kids: cereal, juice, lunch snacks (AKA fruit roll-ups and squeezable fruit), bread and vegetables. Bread and vegetables?! Her point was that these foods frequently have added sugar, and that even frozen vegetables often contain hidden sugar and lots of fat, which zap their nutritional value.
There was good news for our team too: our students watch what we do, so as teachers, if we model good food behavior, we can positively influence our students. We want to walk the talk – and we have noticed how the kind of food our students eat affects their behavior and energy levels at school. So we brainstormed some ideas to try out: picking a new kind of fruit each week for the classroom: identify it, smell it, draw it – start a conversation about it. Who knows what this is? Has anyone here tried it? This is just a small part of what we covered. But in the end, the biggest takeaway was this: start the conversation with students about health and nutrition – not as a lecture, but as a dialogue. Getting them involved early on pays dividends down the road.
Stay tuned for a future installment in our nutrition series.