As a teacher it’s not always easy encouraging your students to eat healthy. Most kids would prefer to snack on a candy bar rather than a healthy vegetable. But being a teacher comes the responsibility to be a role model for your students. Implementing routines in the classroom to promote healthy eating and living can have a significant impact on your students well-being. Here are some healthy ideas to practice with your students
WHAT YOU CAN START DOING RIGHT AWAY
- Model healthy behavior in the classroom – drink water, eat fresh fruits and vegetables as snacks, etc.
- Encourage students to think critically about how food makes them feel – how does eating apples, bananas or almonds compare to eating fries and a milkshake?
- Sit with students in the cafeteria and encourage them to try new things. Ask questions about their meal – how does it taste, who made it for them, what do they like best?
- Ask students about their favorite foods and what they like to eat outside of school. Make suggestions to stimulate curiosity about new and nutritious fruits and vegetables.
- Encourage students to offer to help in the kitchen if their family cooks at home – whether it’s doing dishes or peeling carrots.
WHAT YOU CAN DO WITH A LITTLE PLANNING
- Start an after-school cooking club or global cuisines club
- Incorporate nutritious foods into classroom celebrations or substitute healthier options for school bake sales – fresh fruit skewers, zucchini bread, etc.
- With help from motivated students, advocate for healthier options in the cafeteria
- Invite local chefs, farmers and other food industry professionals to talk to students on career day
- Plan a “field trip” for your students to visit your school kitchen and speak with the individuals who ensure there’s food for students each day
- Use whole fruits and vegetables to teach science or biology lessons – for example, to show the parts of a plant, vegetable families, etc.
- Teach a lesson on junk food marketing and how it targets school-age children – have students develop and draw their own healthy food mascots
- Use food as a creative writing prompt – describe your favorite food, write instructions to preparing a recipe, review your favorite restaurant, etc.
HELPFUL RESOURCES FOR HEALTHY SCHOOLS & CLASSROOMS
- USDA Choose MyPlate – https://www.choosemyplate.gov/teachers
- Obesity, High-Calorie Food Intake, and Academic Achievement Trends Among U.S. School Children – http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00220671.2011.646359?scroll=top&needAccess=true
- Center for Disease Control Healthy Schools – https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/