For this year’s National School Safety Week, Oct. 17-23, the Canada Safety Council reminds Canadians that a child’s development, engagement and energy levels are impacted by the foods they consume. (Photo submitted)

Healthy eating a priority in schools

Canada Safety Council says a child’s development, engagement and energy levels are impacted by diet

Despite the constantly evolving world of education, many of the system’s values remain intact.

One of such values is promoting the importance of healthy eating habits. To mark this year’s National School Safety Week, Oct. 17-23, the Canada Safety Council reminds Canadians that a child’s development, engagement and energy levels are impacted by the foods they consume.

“Developing healthy eating habits can be a struggle,” said Lewis Smith, communications and media program coordinator. “In this day of convenience, picky eaters and instant gratification, it’s often deemed easier to pack processed foods and ready-to-eat meals for a child’s lunch. Packaging and advertising often come into play too and, for a parent or guardian who wants to make sure their child is eating their lunch, this is obviously better than nothing.”

This comes with its drawbacks, however, as processed foods are often stripped of their nutrients and are typically high in fat and carbohydrates.

Tips to instill positive eating habits in children:

· Use natural, healthy foods such as vegetables, fruit, legumes, fresh meat and any food that can be grown or raised. Because these foods are not processed or filled with preservatives, the nutritional value remains children benefit from a steadier stream of energy throughout the day.

· Involve your child in the meal-planning process. Allow them to choose what they want, within limits.

· Invest in a good thermal container.

· If your child’s school offers cafeteria-style meals, request the nutritional facts from the school. This will keep you in the know and allow you to supplement your child’s meal from home as appropriate.

· Stock up on healthy grab-and-go food options, including yogurt, pita pockets, hard-boiled eggs, small packets of dried fruit, fruit cups and dinner leftovers.

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