Healthy eating is often considered a special topic, reserved for Nutrition Month in March. But what if there were more opportunities to talk about it throughout the year?
Between the assessment of skills and the wide range of subjects to cover, days fly by. So, why choose to discuss healthy eating and how should you go about it?
Healthy eating—a part of everyday life
Children live in an environment where the subject of food is ever-present. To find their way and make the right choices, they need knowledge and skills. When you discuss healthy eating in the classroom, you’re helping children develop tools that they will use throughout their lives. You’re helping them become competent eaters.
In addition, it is shown that:
- Developing and maintaining healthy eating habits during childhood promotes:
- Cognitive development
- A reduced risk of chronic disease and obesity
- Eating habits developed during childhood continue into adolescence and adulthood
- Healthy eating and physical activity have a positive impact on educational success and persistence in school
- Children spend a large part of their time in school
A competent eater:
- Is not a nutrition specialist
- Enjoys eating a variety of foods and likes to learn to eat new ones
- Has a positive relationship with food and eats without feeling guilty
- Listens to their hunger and satisfaction cues
- Takes the time to eat
- Pays attention to what they eat
The school environment appears to be a key player in the promotion of healthy eating. Moreover, the Framework Policy for healthy eating and a physically active lifestyle strongly encourages taking steps in this direction.
Promoting healthy eating—a shared responsibility
Many influential adults share in the responsibility of promoting healthy eating to children:
- Daycare educators
- Health professionals
- Any other person significant to the child
All these people complement one another and have an important role to play:
- Sending consistent messages based on validated data and recommendations
- Putting aside their own beliefs or what they see on social media
Actions tailored to children
The goal of talking about healthy eating with students is not to turn them into junior nutritionists. Actions must be adapted to their stage of development and their pace of learning. Teaching general concepts such as where foods come from and hydration should therefore be prioritized. Conversely, it is better to avoid concepts that are highly specialized (e.g., calories, nutritional value) or that have negative connotations (e.g., categorizing foods as “good” or “bad”). Subjects related to children’s everyday lives or those that arise from their questions are typically good topics to discuss.
Recurring activities are much more effective in promoting the acquisition of healthy eating habits. So why limit them to March? Spreading the activities throughout the school year is win-win for your students and you! It makes planning easier and ensures your work is more evenly divided.
Free resources, created by Registered Dietitians
In the Educational Resources section, our team offers you a multitude of turnkey resources. Designed for you and your students, they provide a way to talk about various topics related to healthy eating, such as:
- Where foods come from
- Body image
All the resources are in line with the Québec Education Program (QEP). They were designed by Registered Dietitians specializing in healthy eating education, in collaboration with educational consultants. You’ll find videos, interactive quizzes, printable activities and so much more! Don’t wait. Discover the resources for your teaching cycle!
Keep in mind that all efforts, even small ones, are part of a larger whole that will have a big impact on children.