Health Promoting School

Healthy Eating Day, 2005

Read our pupils’ articles on healthy eating in the S.P.H.E. category.

Múinteoir Anthony is in charge of our healthy eating policy at school and promotes this at every opportunity – organising healthy eating days with the Parents’ Association and promoting/further developing our policy over the years.

A healthy lifestyle begins with a proper diet. Healthy eating is important for the proper formation of bones, teeth, muscle and a healthy heart. Diet can affect growth and development in small children. Childhood obesity is on the rise, and by promoting a healthy diet, children can maintain a healthy weight and stay healthy as they grow into young adults.

Physically, a child’s body is different from that of an adult, and it can be hard to understand that a child is not a miniature adult. Because children are growing and developing, they have particular nutritional requirements. Giving children nutritionally dense food options is important for proper overall growth and development.
In our school we are participating in a programme called Food Dudes which was developed by the University of Wales, Bangor, to encourage children to eat more fruit and vegetables both in school and at home. It is based on positive role models (the Food Dudes characters), repeated tasting and rewards. In large-scale studies in schools in England and Wales and pilot studies in schools in Ireland, the Programme has been shown to be effective and results long lasting across the primary age range, regardless of gender, school size, geographic and socio-economic factors.
It is ultimately designed to enable children to enjoy eating healthy diets, and to create a healthy eating culture within schools.
School age is the perfect time for children to learn about healthy food, bodies and activity, as they start a busy social life, have pocket money and begin to help choose their own lifestyle. Children of this age learn quickly and are also influenced by their friends and popular trends. Children need a wide variety of foods for a well-balanced diet. The amount of physical activity they have in a day will be an important part of how much they need to eat. Some children of this age are still fussy, but, when busy and active, snacking is important to keep energy levels high. A healthy morning snack at break time and one after school are usually needed each day.
The Food Dudes programme highlights the importance of breakfast. It states on the website that it is important to encourage breakfast. A good night’s sleep followed by food in the morning helps your child to stay active and concentrate at school. It also means your child is less likely to be hungry during the morning. The site encourages parents to be be a role model and let your child see you eat breakfast too. A bowl of cereal with milk and fresh or stewed fruit is a great starter for the whole family.

Healthy tips for school aged children 
Children need a variety of different foods each day.

  • Snacks are an important part of a healthy diet for active children.
  • Make snacks nutritious, not just high in energy.
  • Plan to share meals as a family.
  • Enjoy talking and sharing the day’s happenings at mealtimes.
  • Let children tell you when they’re full.
  • Take lunch from home.
  • Let children help with food preparation and meal planning.
  • Encourage physical activities for the whole family.
  • Encourage children to drink plain water.

Healthy Eating Day, 2005

Fruit and vegetables 
Colourful and crunchy fruit and vegetables can be an enjoyable part of your child’s life. Most babies eat fruit and vegetables as one of their first solid foods. After the first year, you may notice your children become fussier as they become more independent eaters. Often this fussiness may include an unwillingness to eat fruit and vegetables.
If children start to eat less fruit and vegetables from time to time, this may worry parents, but usually it causes no harm. It is not possible to force children to eat more fruit and vegetables. The best way is to set a good example for them. If you eat and enjoy fruit and vegetables every day, your children may eventually follow your lead. It may take time, but this is how children learn best. So keep trying.

Benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption

  • Contain high levels of vitamins, minerals, nutrients, fibre and antioxidants, all essentials in the efficient functioning of the body.
  • Have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer by up to 20%.
  • Combat incidence of asthma, diabetes, colds and flus.
  • Improve the overall quality of the diet through eating healthily, which helps to reduce the risk of obesity.
  • Improve sleeping patterns leading to better concentration and behaviour.

These tips and more are available on the Food Dudes website on

Tips for some individual fruits & vegetables – different ways to provide variety!

These can be presented whole or cored, cut into quarters, slices or rings, on their own or in a fruit salad. (Lemon juice stops browning).
A perfect fruit for lunch boxes (when in season) pack a bunch into a container or mix into a fruit salad, provide colour and mix red and green.
Pack unpeeled, choose bananas that are just ripe, not too soft or green. Look in your supermarket for small lunch box size bananas and also apples.
Great for sandwiches and salads. Slice into ribbons (may be more palatable) or cut into slices and add to sandwiches or slice and add to a vegetable salad.
Cut into sticks or slice on the angle for salads. Grate carrots, or use a vegetable peeler to make ribbons for sandwiches, pita pockets or rolls. Slice into batons and mix with cucumber sticks for a crunchy finger salad.
Cut into slices, sticks and dip into e.g. yoghurt or mix into a salad.
Fruit and vegetables don’t have to be boring and bland, present them in different ways and provide a variety so that your child can discover not only the health benefits of including them within the diet but the fun that can be had in preparing them with your child, get them involved in the process!
Copyright © Food Dudes 2006 – 2011