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JIS News

With just a few days until the start of the new academic year, Director of the School Feeding Unit in the Ministry of Education and Youth, Helen Robertson, is encouraging parents to prepare healthy and nutritious meals and snacks for their children to take to school.
“Often I go into the supermarket and I see people’s trolleys full of little bags of cheese trix and sachets of juice. While they may have a place, nothing is going to beat fruits and vegetables and prepared sandwiches. It is easy to buy convenience foods because you just pick them up and pack them in a lunch pan but that really does not provide a great deal of nutrition,” Miss Robertson said.
She was addressing a JIS Think Tank on (Sept. 5) at the agency’s head office on Half-Way-Tree-Road.
Director of Nutrition in the Ministry of Health, Sharmaine Edwards, in a previous interview with JIS News, pointed out that children need to eat nutritious meals in order to avoid complications such as obesity. “Obesity will cause a child to become lethargic, develop a negative body image, low self esteem and it increases the risk of adulthood obesity and related illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes, all of which can affect the energy level and attention span,” she pointed out.
Giving an example of a healthy breakfast menu for a child, she said this could consist of half a cup of cereal with fruit and a milk drink. For lunch, she suggested that parents could pack lunches but most schools had a feeding programme, which entail a nutri snack and drink or a conventional meal.
For snacks, the Nutrition Director said that parents could prepare nutritious items such as carrot sticks, breads, biscuits, popcorns that are sugar free, as well as other low fat products.
She however cautioned parents against being over zealous, as children often refuse to eat certain food, especially nutritious items such as fruits and vegetables.
“If the child is refusing a food, what you should do is withdraw it and then introduce it at another time as a new food. If the child does not want anymore or refuses a food, talk with the child and find out what it is; if they are not feeling well, if they don’t want anymore right now or whatever, but do not force the child to eat,” she advised.
Parents should also encourage their children to participate in physical activities and get sufficient rest, as these combined with a balanced diet will promote good health.