I grew up in a small town called Bexley, Ohio. My mom forwarded me a community newsletter detailing the positive changes the food service director had made for students in the cafeteria. I was impressed and wanted to comment further. So…I wrote a letter to the editor at the Bexley News.
Here is what I said:
To the Editor,
As a pediatric registered dietitian in Laguna Beach, California and proud graduate of Bexley High School, class of 1990, I want to applaud the efforts of James Anderson, Bexley Schools’ Food Services Director, for the healthier food he is providing in the cafeterias for students (Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds in Checkpoints for our Community Vol. 11• 2010-2011). I hope this is just the beginning of what Bexley will do to offer the students the healthiest food possible.
While I believe schools have an important role in teaching kids about nutrition and offering healthy foods in school cafeterias, parents must do real work at home to raise nutritionally healthy kids. This work should include the following:
1.) Eat as a family as much as possible. Plan for breakfasts and brunches on weekends if weeknight dinners are difficult.
2.) Eat healthy about 85% of the time and indulge about 15% of the time. These percentages are what moderation means.
3.) Turn off technology, including televisions, while you eat. These devices blunt your ability to understand when you are hungry and full.
4.) Stop talking about your weight and dieting. Your children are listening and processing your thoughts about food, especially your teenagers. If you are having difficulty with your own nutrition, seek help from a registered dietitian.
5.) Eat dessert. Dessert should not be a reward for a game your child wins or a good grade he or she receives. If you decide on a dessert after dinner, serve it, enjoy it and be quiet.
I want to hear more about the positive changes the Bexley school system is looking to make to improve the health of their students. I hope Bexley parents will do the same at home.
Melanie R. Silverman MS, RD, IBCLC