With childhood nutrition at the forefront of our nation’s attention, there has been a lot of talk trying to determine exactly what is responsible for this obesity epidemic. Is it what happens at school or what happens at home? Is it the direct result of your family's socio-economic status and the ways your status can affect access to positive lifestyle choices? Or is it the direct outcome of our sedentary lifestyles and the insidious convenience of unhealthy foods? In all honesty, a combination of all these factors has slowly redefined our a culture sto that, at this point, obesity has become the norm. So, instead of trying to pin blame somehere else, let's all start claiming our part of the problem as well as our part of the solution.
Family life is an obvious place to start because of the personal investment we make in our children. Parents have the important work of laying the groundwork for developing life-long healthy habits, starting at birth and throughout their youth. A solid foundation sets the stage for success at healthy living when they become adults. Schools are the next arenas where we can effect change by not only teaching about concepts, but also by encouraging pecific actions and efforts to get active, stay fit, and develop healthy eating habits. Thanks to Michelle Obama, more attention has been turned towards the food students consume while at school, both in and out of the cafeterias, than ever before.
Can we find more opportunities to teach our children these important lessons? The answer lies within in the question; we have to teach them. The classroom environment is an obvious place to teach students how andy why a healthy diet matters; it is where they are already learning the other essential subjects that will assist in their future successes. We teach them to read, write, add and subtract. We show them how things work and encourage them to ask "Why?" So why can’t we also educate them about food and healthier lives? Now I know there are classes specifically aimed towards addressing these subject, but to really make a change, we need to integrate foods and food choicesacross the curriculum. Wouldn’t it make sense to include it as we guide our children through their daily academics and lessons?
Integrating food into common school subjects may be easier than you think. With a little modification, simple lessons can become unexpected vehicles for opening up dialogue about healthy lifestyles and choices. Beyond the obvious applications of reading about nutrition, other common subjects lend themselves to the subject. Creative writing can be a way to discuss favorite afterschool snacks or even celebrate student's cultural diversity. Science and food go hand and hand. Students can explore the Chemistry of Cooking, think about how food moves through the body, or use veggies to explore the principles of physics. The social studies can easily include food knowledge: Where does food come from? What foods did our presidents eat? and more. There are thousands of lesson plans available online for free just waiting to be shared in the classroom.
Sometimes it only takes a little spark to ignite children’s curiosity about foods, healthy diets, and nutrition. Getting children to think about their diets is half the battle . So let’s come together as parents, teachers, food service directors, and school administrators to ending this nationwide predicament. In the end, isn’t that what we are all working toward?