After reading Sarah's post, share your thoughts on school lunches.
Healthier food choices prevent unhealthy weight gain. According to Livestrong, many of the foods typically offered in school cafeterias, like pizza and fries, contain a lot of saturated fat and calories. These foods also make children sluggish, so they are less active. Lunches should be high in essential nutrients and incorporate fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This ensures that students will feel full, but not uncomfortably so, and they have more energy for recess and gym. Choose My Plate has information on the five food groups and portion recommendations.
Positive Behavior Effects
Good Morning America reports that Appleton Central High School, an alternative school is Wisconsin, had major behavioral issues and a high dropout rate. After taking the soda out of vending machines and replacing them with juice and water, as well as replacing standard cafeteria fare of pizza and fries with fruit, vegetables and whole grains, disciplinary issues decreased dramatically. Teachers credited the lunch program with the major behavior improvements, and students reported that their concentration levels increased and that they had more energy. When children eat well, they simply feel better and are more alert.
Livestrong again states that healthy food feeds the brain. As previously mentioned, fatty foods make children sluggish and healthy foods make them more alert and active. This translates to increased concentration and motivation in the classroom. When a child feels alert and well, he is more receptive to learning new information and participating in lessons. After all, you cannot learn if you are asleep.
Establishing healthy menus at school and encouraging healthy choices through the curriculum leads to healthier habits later in life. If eating healthy is obviously valued at school, children will more likely promote good eating habits at home. They will make better choices as adults, decreasing their likelihood of being overweight and developing serious health problems. The infographic cited above reports that children that are obese have an increased likelihood of having high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, trouble breathing and joint issues. These are very serious issues that could not only take away from quality of life and self-esteem — they can kill. Thus, promoting healthy habits now can lead to longer, more successful and happier lives tomorrow.
Sarah Fudin currently works in community relations for the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education’s online Master’s programs, which provides current and aspiring teachers the opportunity to earn a Masters in Education or Masters in Special Education online. Outside of work Sarah enjoys running, reading and Pinkberry frozen yogurt.