Teaching Children to Navigate Social Eating
School nurses do more than treat children for upset stomachs and headaches. They play a vital role in health promotion and disease prevention. Teaching children that how, when, why and where they eat is just as important as what they eat can help kids develop their overall healthy eating habits. As part of March’s National Nutrition Month®, American Dairy Association and Dairy Council urges everyone, including students and their families, to return to the basics of healthful eating. This includes talking to kids about taking the time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food can add to our lives.
There is an obvious social component to food. Whether a nightly family dinner, special holiday occasion or after-school social gathering, food often plays a central role. Teach children to take part in foods offered at parties and social events in moderation by having a small portion of cake or rethinking their drink, like opting for chocolate milk instead of soda. This shows kids that they can maintain a healthy diet while still enjoying social activities with friends and family.
Rushing from class to class and from school to practice or other activities, kids often eat quickly and mindlessly. Instead, encourage them to pay attention to what they are eating and the quantity they are eating. Have them slow down, so that they can taste the flavor of food and encourage them to try new foods. Kids who learn to be mindful eaters tend to lead an overall healthier lifestyle.
Putting kids on a path to eating healthfully can impact their learning and teach them a lifetime of healthy habits.
Learn more about healthful eating at http://www.adadc.com/school-nurses.html.
Michelle Easterly Barber, MA, RD, CDN
American Dairy Association and Dairy Council, Inc.