Eat Healthy, Drink Healthy

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Children have been eating junk food including processed foods such as frozen foods, and fast foods  and they have been drinking sugary drinks like sodas, sports drinks, and juice for so many years. They have access to these junk foods and sugary drinks if there are vending machines present in the schools. I think  they  remove soda and drink machines with these sugary drinks, and  put water, chocolate milk, 1% milk, 2% milk,  1/2% milk, and skim milk.  Plus include milk alternatives such as rice milk, soy milk, and almond milk. Then they should keep  cracker products, party mix, popcorn, pretzels, and Chex mix in the snack machines as oppose to candy bars, chips, cookies, and pastries. If not,  remove the snack machines completely. 

In  school cafeterias,  they sell ice cream, cookies, pies, cakes,  fruit juices, and chips for the kids and adults to buy with lunch. In school cafeterias, they should give popcorn, cracker products, chex mix, and pretzels along with fruits and vegetables in place of  junk foods. The chef should serve these healthy snacks to the children during lunch and snack time for free. Instead of serving juice and other sugary drinks, children need to drink milk with meals, and water with snacks. 

In childcare centers, private schools,  and preschools, they emphasize the concept of healthy eating and that they are not to bring junk food of any kind to school. With meals, they are served milk, and with snack the kids drink water.  In some schools, children drink water with lunch and snack in some schools because there are kids with certain food allergies. There are no snack or drink machines present in these centers, and same with most private schools. Even though there is no cafeteria in these childcare centers, private schools and preschools, a chef should be  available to cook meals and provide snacks for everybody in a clean kitchen. Either the chef or teachers can serve milk with meals, and water with snacks. 

In half-day preschools and childcare centers, children bring lunch from home. In half-day preschools and childcare centers,  teachers and administrators should hire a chef to cook lunch and give a healthy snack each day to the staff and students. Students can have the option of eating school lunch, or bringing  lunch from home. Even if children bring lunch from home, the teachers or chefs should still give them milk. They can eat a nutritious snack given in school with water. 

School chefs and teachers should serve  milk products, milk alternatives, healthy snacks, healthy meals, and water  whether or not there is a cafeteria, in all childcare centers, preschools, public schools, and private schools for free. Another idea is  putting water, chocolate milk, 1% milk, 2% milk, 1/2% milk, skim milk, rice milk, soy milk, and almond milk in separate dispensers. Teachers and cafeteria staff need to supervise children when they use the dispensers, and they should let younger children stand on stools when taking milk.

Fresh fruits and vegetables have more nutrients that children need, compared to juices, sports drinks and soda. Chefs  and teachers should feed children more fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs and other protein sources, yogurt, and grains. Children  need to  drink milk with meals, and water with snacks. Chefs should also cook all the children's meals fresh from scratch, and not feed children processed food. Several frozen meals have lots of preservatives, and the nutrients are not natural because they come from those preservatives. Plus all these processed foods have too much fat, sugar and sodium. Examples of healthy meals are peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cheese sandwiches, and pasta dishes made from scratch with vegetables on the side. They can even make chicken nuggets, french fries, tacos, burritos, and other items children enjoy eating from scratch  instead of buying them frozen.   In addition, school chefs, teachers,  and administrators should think about adding a salad bar with fruits, vegetables, chicken, and other meat products, and fresh salad dressings free and accessible to children and teachers during their meal times whether they have a cafeteria or not.  Children need access to a salad bar during lunch time. People in the cafeteria  should be there to supervise children each time they go get a salad.  Younger children need a stool to reach the salad bar, so teachers and cafeteria staff should provide that for these kids. Teachers should observe children as they eat their meals. 

For children with food allergies, such as milk, corn, eggs,  nut(s), gluten, meat, or fish allergies,  chefs and teachers need to provide the children with food substitutes or alternatives. They should give them soy, almond, or rice milk. Parents need to let the staff know about their children's food allergies.  If the school cannot provide alternatives, healthy foods for snack and lunch need to be sent from home. 

Once a month or everyday, I see some schools ordering fast food for the students and teachers. Instead of ordering  fast food, they should  order pizza, tacos, french fries, chicken nuggets, burritos, salads, and sandwiches from fast casual restaurants once a month for all students and staff. 

In teacher's lounges in schools, they have vending machines with all the junk foods and sugary drinks, as well. In those vending machines, I suggest they  put coffee, tea,  and milk, and the same types of healthy snacks they have for children  in cafeterias. When kids see their teachers  walk in with candy bars, cookies, and other types of junk food and/or sugary drinks,  they will be tempted and want to eat them as well. Either vendors and administrators change the types of foods and drinks they have in vending machines for teachers, or eliminate them.  They can add separate dispensers for coffee, tea, and milk, and healthy snacks in the counter in a basket.

Parents know to  replicate the same principle at  home.   If children take lunch from home, they still need to eat fruits and vegetables. As their first teachers, they know to should teach their children to eat  healthy.  Children need to still have access to the salad bar in school whether they eat lunch from home, or the food they have in school. 

Whatever school children go to, the same principle should be implemented. Whether there is a school cafeteria or not,  teachers and chefs should serve milk  with lunch, and water with snack.   Children who have allergies, or are vegans should be given soy milk,  rice milk, or almond milk. Children who are not allergic or are not vegan should have a chance to try the alternatives to milk, too. 

Sodas, juices and sports drinks contain too much sugar,  and it is unhealthy for children and adults to drink.   Drinking these will cause heart problems, diabetes and weight gain. These health problems will also lead to premature death. Same thing with eating excessive amounts of desserts.  All the nutrients our body needs will also become depleted if we drink all these drinks with meals and snacks.   Eating mostly healthy foods , and drinking milk and water is the key to a healthy life.

      It is never appropriate to use food as a punishment or reward. It is never okay to force children eat food  they do not want to eat.  Punishing children for not eating the full plate or bowl of food, or  just not eating  is not appropriate discipline as well. It is best to give a child something else if they do not want to eat what is given to them.  It is best to serve small amounts of the food they are supposed to eat, and give them more if they want.  Denying meals and/or snacks as a punishment is never appropriate for  parents and teachers to do because the children will be deprived of nutrients they need.  Threatening children about not getting food during mealtime or snack time is never appropriate. Using food as rewards will make children overeat after doing something good for them, and they will put on weight.  There are better ways to discipline children than using food as a reward and/or punishment.