Why healthy appetites should be learnt in the classroom
"Kids usually want to eat what you're eating and want to mimic you. So make sure you set the right examples with your own eating habits."
There is no doubt that school meals matter. But more than just feed a child well, Dubai-based nutritionist, Kimi Sokhi, says it's just as important to teach students about the importance of food. Here, she tells Khaleej Times why.
What are the benefits of teaching kids to grow their own food?
In today's age of perfectly packaged produce, we have all lost the connection with our food. We don't buy a whole chicken, we buy the clean cut and saran-wrapped chicken breasts. We don't buy whole carrots with leaves and dirt on them, we buy cute little pre-washed baby carrots. By growing their own food, kids will see where their food comes from. They suddenly make the connection between the soil and the earth, and the food we eat.
How does good nutrition impact a developing child?
An adult already has a well-developed set of limbs, organs, brain and tissue. However, our bodies and brains grow at astronomical rates in the first three years of life. Infants double their body weight approximately every six weeks until the age of 1-1.5 years. Food and nourishment are the raw materials needed to develop their brains, bones and tissue. Nutritional deficiencies at an early age lead to developmental disorders.
How does growing and learning about different food groups nurture a child's relationship towards food?
In the first few years of life, we're still developing our taste buds, so it's important to expose children to all types of flavours. The more you encourage them to try all sorts of fruits and vegetables, the likely they will develop a taste for them. Also, don't use sweets or junk food as a "treat"- that sets the tone for an unhealthy relationship with food. Don't vilify broccoli and greens; treat them like they're hamburgers, not vegetables. Children follow your cues. They watch their parents and what they eat. They usually want to eat what you're eating and want to mimic you. So make sure you set the right examples with your own eating habits.