Healthy Eating Habits in the Classroom

August 02, 2015

Young children are notoriously picky eaters. One day they will eat all their food and the next day they barely touch their plates. Sometimes they even refuse to eat what they had to have second helpings of just a few weeks before. The key is to not take it personally.

There really is no rhyme or reason to young children’s eating behaviors so the best you can do is follow the recommended guidelines and know that if you put healthy food on the table no child is going to go hungry.

Remember to keep the atmosphere light and social. Mealtimes are not only times for filling up bellies, but also for interacting with peers. Teachers should sit and eat with children during meals. Children tend to stay focused on their food longer and make a lot less mess.

Children should not be forced to eat, but encouraged to try. The best six words a teacher can say is, “You don’t have to eat it.” Some children will look at you like you’re crazy, but the next thing you know they tried the food by themselves and liked it.

Most children develop food preferences and aversions at a young age. Food likes and dislikes are both individual and cultural. Sometimes learning and exposure to new foods can change the outcome of whether a child likes it or not.

Allow children to be as independent as possible. When possible, allow children to serve themselves. It’s amazing how much better their portion control is at a young age. Be sure not to serve food that puts young children at risk for choking. These include raisins, nuts, popcorn, seeds, carrots and grapes.

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