Helping You Support Healthy Eating for Your Kids at Home and at School

kids, school, eating at school Kids tend to eat what their parents eat. As a caregiver, you can be a role model for healthy eating. By shopping for and preparing nutritious foods, you can create a healthy eating environment in your home.

A healthy home is a great start, but children eat many of their meals at school. By sending kids to school with nutritious lunches and supporting healthy choices at school events, you can also help create a healthy eating environment at school. 

Offering healthy foods at school improves student learning. Research shows that children who eat a healthy diet are:

  • More ready to learn
  • More likely to perform better in school
  • At reduced risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer

The government is working with schools, educators and parents to help support healthy eating at school. In April 2008, the Healthy Food for Healthy Schools Act was passed to make schools healthier places for students to learn. Working together, we can all take part and help our children make healthier choices.

Creating healthier schools

The idea behind the Healthy Food for Healthy Schools Act is to help children make better food choices. That means healthy and tasty foods need to be available for the kids at school.

In September 2011, Ontario schools put into action the School Food and Beverage Policy. It provides guidance on the types of foods that can be sold in school cafeterias, vending machines and school events. The policy helps schools know which foods they can and cannot sell. For more details about the School Food and Beverage Policy, click here

Your kids need YOU

Whenever possible, try to get involved in school life and making sure that the foods offered are healthy for your kids. Make your voice heard. Here are some ideas:

  • Talk to your kids about why healthy foods at school are important and why some of the foods that they could buy last school year are no longer available.
  • Prepare healthy school lunches and snacks with your kids.
  • Join a parent/teacher committee to help make decisions about the foods offered at school.
  • Bake healthy items for bake sales or fundraisers using recipes from Bake it Up!

What can you do to support healthy eating?

The School Food and Beverage Policy only covers foods that are sold at school. It does not apply to lunches that are brought from home. Does that mean you should put just anything into your child’s lunch box? Not if you want to support healthy eating! It is important to be consistent and offer healthy options for your kids at home and at school. This will help your children learn about healthy food choices.

When grocery shopping:

Choose foods from the four food groups in Canada’s Food Guide.

Bring your kids to the grocery store and teach as you shop. They can learn about what food costs, where it comes from and what options are available.

Teach children how to read nutrition labels. Watch these videos on nutrition labelling with your children. 

When packing lunch:

Choose foods from the four food groups in Canada’s Food Guide.

Have your children help with making choices and packing lunch. When children are involved in food preparation, they are more likely to eat those foods.

Be creative! Use cookie cutters to make funny-shaped sandwiches, thread fruit kabobs on skewers and offer whole grain, low-fat baked goods.   Read Packing Healthy School Lunches and Snacks for more ideas.

When eating:

Eat as a family as often as possible. Children who eat with their caregivers (at least four times per week) tend to eat more fruit and vegetables, have a higher intake of fibre, eat less fried foods and drink less pop. They are also less likely to be overweight or obese.

Be a good role model. When you make healthy food choices for yourself, you are teaching your kids about healthy eating.

Bottom line:

Promote healthy eating by getting involved at school and at home. Take children grocery shopping, pack healthy lunches and support healthy activities at school. As a role model, you can teach your kids healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime.

Last Update – November 9, 2017

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