For parents and members of the school community - how can you help?
There is a global challenge to reverse an obesity trend in countries like Australia. This is an enormous task given the numerous environmental influences to which our children are exposed. There are some strategies that we can use at school, at home, with friends and the wider community that will make it easier for our children to want to make healthy food and drink choices for themselves.
Some of the strategies that you can try at school include:
- asking the school what is being done to promote healthy eating
- promoting the revised canteen strategy at parent and community meetings
- supporting the school’s efforts to promote healthy food and drink choices in the canteen
- researching and discussing different ways to fund raise in the school with a focus on healthier foods.
- suggest appropriate fun day treats through your parent groups or school executive.
- approaching your child’s school and volunteering to establish a vegetable garden that supplies produce to the school canteen, for use in teaching and learning and/ or for distribution to students.
Strategies that you can try at home include:
- substituting sugary drinks with water at home and in lunchboxes. Adding slices of fresh fruit, herbs or vegetables to the water jug in the refrigerator adds to the taste especially during transition periods.
- including children from an early age in meal planning and preparation. Planning meals together, compiling shopping lists, including children in the shopping trip and allowing children to assist in the preparation and cooking of meals spikes interest, motivation and creates healthier eating options.
- encouraging older children and young people to plan a dinner menu for a day with support to compile a shopping list, purchase and prepare meals
- beginning the journey by planning a healthy eating day together once a week, fortnight or month.
- consulting children as to the contents in their school lunches and allowing them to assist in shopping and preparation where possible.
- planning and creating a small garden at home for growing fruit and vegetables. The greater the responsibility and participation given to children the more likely they are to eat what they have helped to grow.
- modelling good eating habits at home and limiting access to the type and amounts of highly processed foods available such as chips, chocolate, lollies and biscuits.
- providing healthy snacks such as fruit and vegetable wedges on an open platter.
- visiting the local shops and supermarkets and talking to your child about the foods being offered for sale and their value. Downloading the free FoodSwitch app will assist in working out the nutritional value of foods that do not display the Health Star Rating (HSR).
- talking to your children about food sources and how the food they eat reaches the table.
- focusing on the outside areas of the supermarket when shopping. These are the areas where fresh foods, meats and dairy products are more likely to be on display.
Friends and the wider community
Strategies that you can try in the wider community include:
- talking to other parents and friends and sharing lunchbox ideas and healthy recipes. Making healthier snacks in bulk and swapping with other parents can decrease the work and increase the variety of snacks available.
- using multimedia to search for new recipes and creating photo pages to share.
- raising the issue of healthier eating as a part of your conversations with family and friends.