Children need many things to thrive and be able to learn. Love, understanding, boundaries, and structure are all essential, but so is nutrition. Learning takes a lot of energy; we replenish most of that energy through food and drink.
Food that is high in salt, sugar, and fat may provide immediate energy boosts, but it is damaging in the long term and can affect brain development. The quick highs of sugar and refined carbohydrates also come with energy crashes that can promote cycles of unhealthy eating and lead to other unhealthy habits.
Food high in nutrients and that slowly releases energy over time is much better for all of us, but especially for growing minds and bodies. Providing children with healthy choices from a young age is essential. So is teaching why they should make healthy choices and the dangers of unhealthy foods.
That is not to say that a child’s diet should never contain treats. However, food, especially unhealthy food, should never be used as rewards or bribes. Doing so sets children up to develop unhealthy relationships with foods and potentially other substances as they grow.
Offering healthy food at school is crucial. Children sit and eat together; they notice what their peers and the adults around them eat. Teachers and support staff should always strive to set good examples in all aspects of life; eating habits are no different.
We must teach children how to create healthy, tasty dishes that meet their physical needs and are acceptable to Allah. We need to teach children where their food comes from, how it is produced, and why it is important only to eat acceptable foods. Children learn by experience and by watching those around them. Good examples must come from the home, family, friends, and school.
At ILM Academy, we understand nutrition’s role in developing healthy bodies and minds. We strive to lead by example in everything we do and to teach children about food and its production so they can have a healthy relationship with food. Providing healthy food at school for meals and snacks, encouraging sensible eating, and waste reduction are vital to our work.