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Aug 30, 2012

Healthy Living packs a lunch kit for kids

Whether, it’s Pre K or Infant two, the beginning of every school year brings a lot of anxiety for parents who want provide the very best for their children during their formative years.  In addition to the new notebooks and pencils, children need to be equipped with the right food choices. So before you pack that lunch kit, a nutritionist for the Ministry of Health offers some advice to parents to start your child’s school year on the right track.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

It’s no secret that a child’s eating habits can affect not just their health but also their performance school. Incorporating healthy foods choices early typically trains children to develop better eating habits. This means, the responsibility on what your child will choose to eat lies squarely on the parents.


Robyn Daly, Nutritionist, Ministry of Health

“Not getting food and making sure that it’s the right food. Because you provide a nice meal to the student but if it is not suitable or that is required for the child’s growth and performance then it’s kinda missing the whole point of nutrition.”


Robyn Daly

Robyn Daly is the Nutritionist for the Ministry of Health. She offers some insight on the nutritional status of our Belizean children and why we should be rethinking their snack choices


Robyn Daly

“We’re actually in an era where chronic health disease are becoming very prevalent in Belize we notice a very interesting trend. We have a large number of children who are underweight—malnourished—and we have a large number of children that are overweight. So we really need to be able to strike a balance with our foods.  So because we have to ensure that we’re giving the right foods and that they exercise.”


But what could have changed? Most of us can recall munching on similar snacks when we were in school. The costs may have changed; but has the nutritional content? Not quite, says Daly, what has changed for the children of today is the level of activity. Also, we are more cognizant of the micro-nutrient needs of children.


Robyn Daly

“I think back then we sue to eat all that junk but children use to play. I could remember using skipping race and play different games in the school yard, now we’re in an era where there are a lot of computer games sitting down type activity for electronic type games. Yes some of the foods provide some of the protein. What we really need to be providing to our children; our calcium, kids are not normally, they need things like a lot of fat and a lot of sugar, things that they don’t really need that much and we’re missing a lot of it in the typical snacks.”


So even though traditional snacks are easy to buy and may seem to be better on your pockets, the fact is they are low on nutritional value. She suggests that parents rethink the corn chips & ideals and look at healthier alternatives.


Robyn Daly

“We look at maybe some banana bread, banana cake, some oatmeal cookies, or something like that. Something they can actually gain benefit from; using whole gains included in the snack. We can’t take away sugar totally from the kids and say no sugar, no fat, but how can we make the meals healthier.  We know that our society is not consuming enough fruits and vegetables and we have a large supply of fruits and vegetables in the country. People always complain about the cost, but you can include when you are giving your child a snack, a piece of fruit or vegetable along with it. You can actually have them mixed; fruit drinks or a piece. It can make it very interesting for children if the food has different colors. So what we are looking at, we have different colors—orange, red, yellow, bright fruits—and we have a little piece of each. You don’t have to give a large amount, but to get it into the diet it is a good way and you have them in shapes.  It is easier to go and buy the chips, but we have to make a conscious efforts to buy healthier food. It is there, but we have to look. For example, you have a dollar to spend; now would you prefer to go and buy maybe a cucumber and three bananas to just get fruits and vegetables or is it just easier to buy the chips? It’s easier to buy the chips; it is more readily available at different places than fruits, but what is better for your child. We need to have these included at least two three times a week or having it none at all.”


Other alternatives include peanut butter sandwiches, vegetables with a healthy dip, and instead of the sugar laden ideals, making fresh juice from seasonal fruits. Engaging your child in more physical activity is also paramount in keeping them healthy.


The Ministries of Health & Education are already collaborating to including fortified foods, like Incaparina, into feeding programs to counter the incidences of malnutrition and now they are looking at the food choices being sold in schools.


Robyn Daly

“Having good health and nutrition can go a long way in terms of how we do in schools, our performance in society overall. So let’s make a step to do what we can with what we have to create healthier choices for our children.”

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1 Response for “Healthy Living packs a lunch kit for kids”

  1. Uncle Benji says:

    Uncle Benji grew up on powder milk, johnny cakes, creole bread and river water. Going strong 112 years later.

    So much for healthy foods.

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