March 28th, 2018
By Elizabeth Lougheed – Elizabeth is a Youth Worker and Team Lead for the Healthy Beginnings Program at Langs where she specializes in educating youth and families on healthy eating and physical literacy. With funding support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Elizabeth and her team have led Healthy Beginnings in primary classrooms in Waterloo Region, including Coronation Public School, Saginaw Public School, Parkway Public School and Pioneer Park. She has a strong passion for educating youth and supporting them to reach their full potential.
“Good nutrition creates health in all areas of our existence. All parts are interconnected” – T. Collin Campbell, Food Matters
March is Nutrition Month. It is a month dedicated to unlocking the potential of what food can do for our bodies. Food can be used for fuel, discovery, prevention and healing, as well as bringing us together. We can use this national campaign as a way to reach our children and families to promote the importance of nutrition. A great way to make a connection between parents and children to the campaign is through a program called Healthy Beginnings.
What is Healthy Beginnings?
Healthy Beginnings (led by Langs) is a program offered in 133 elementary classrooms across Waterloo region. Healthy Beginnings aims to increase healthy eating and physical activity through educational units in classrooms and community-based physical activity programs. This project is funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and has already reached over 1,800 children and parents in classrooms and community centres in its first year!
Take a Break from Snacks and Junk Food Worries
Parents often think about the impact that unhealthy foods are having on their children. Whether it is obesity, lack of nutrients or high amounts of sugar and fats – there seems to be something new in social media each day. We challenge you to take a break from your regular snacks and try something new with your children.
Teaching children about nutrition can be a challenge so it is important to make it fun and engaging. There are many resources for parents on ways to engage children to want to eat healthy food and even help in the kitchen. We have included a few that students learn in Healthy Beginnings:
- Engage children in the process by having them help prepare food in the kitchen. When children are engaged and have the opportunity to learn and create, they are proud of the final product. Many snack items can be prepared with a plastic knife – a safer alternative for first time kitchen helpers.
- Prepare fun to eat foods with a healthy twist. When preparing foods, use colour and shapes that are appealing to the eye. Children, especially the younger ages, are attracted to the way things look. You could try a healthy food in their favourite recipes – in pancakes try blueberries instead of chocolate and even shape the pancake into your child’s favourite superhero. Or use cut fruits and vegetables to make a happy face on their plate.
- Try new recipes and ingredients so children become accustomed to trying new foods and learning to enjoy them. This can be as easy as trying a new vegetable or fruit. In Healthy Beginnings, children are encouraged to try a new food each month – and to also see how it is prepared. Many children are surprised to see the inside of a squash or green pepper. Cookspiration is a great source for new, easy to prepare recipes.
- Connect nutrition to classroom learning. By using what the children are excited about at school and bringing it into the home, it will encourage a holistic approach. For example, using Food of the Month foods to prepare easy snacks, parents can make a connection between home and school.
Promoting Awareness and Change
Nutrition month is a way to reach children and promote change. It is a way to teach children that nutrition matters. The hope is to encourage children during Nutrition Month to want to eat healthy, engage in kitchen activities at home and reduce consumption of processed and packaged foods with more healthy alternatives.
If you are interested in the Healthy Beginnings program and wondering how this can be offered in your child’s school and classroom, please reach out to me.
- Elizabeth Lougheed, Team Lead for Healthy Beginnings519-653-1470 ext 397 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Parent Posts are written by parents, for parents in collaboration with PIC. This series features guest parent bloggers where they share resources and information with other parents. We invite you to email and let us know if there are other topics you’d like to learn more about on Parent Posts.
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