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Schools are not just for nourishing minds. Now, students can also nourish their bodies with a wide selection of healthy choices in their school canteens! Schools now serve healthy and tasty food as part of the Healthy Meals in Schools Programme. The initiative, which includes all mainstream schools from Primary to Junior College, lays the foundation for a healthy eating lifestyle.

Related: Eating Healthily at the School Canteen

What Goes into a Healthy Meal?

 

At schools, canteen vendors cut down on:

  • Fat

  • Sugar

  • Oil

  • Salt

They also serve more of the following:

  • Whole grains

  • Fruits

  • Vegetables

Students can purchase healthy set meals, which come with wholegrain bread or brown rice instead of white bread and white rice. Set meals include meat or other proteins, half a serving of fruit and a quarter serving of vegetables. Students are encouraged to drink water to accompany their meals, and only drinks with the healthier-choice symbol (HCS) are sold

Related: Palates for Lighter Choices at Institutes of Higher Learning

Healthy Does Not Have to be Boring

 

The HMSP, which was launched in 2011, helps students cultivate healthy eating habits while keeping meals interesting. At Lian Hua primary school, an international food stall serves Japanese rice sets and Thai Laksa with a healthy twist. The stall uses brown rice instead of white rice in its sets, and replaces coconut milk with low fat evaporated milk in the laksa.

Lian Hua Primary School’s international food stall vendor Warang Khongthong, who includes generous servings of fruits and vegetables in the meals, constantly experiments with ways to make her food more nutritious and healthy. She says: “Pupils can pick up good eating habits early. If you want kids to eat healthy food, then you have to think of creative ways to get them to do so.[1]

She has received positive feedback from staff and students. Primary three Lian Hua pupil Yulia Daramalinggam, who likes the udon soup and teriyaki chicken rice from the international food stall, says: “I am glad there is a chance to try food from the different cultures here.”

The school’s Vice Principal Ms Tan Hui Ping agreed, adding that healthy and nutritious canteen food can help instil healthy eating habits in students.

Other schools, such as Bedok Green Primary School, make healthier versions of well-loved finger food. Canteen vendors make their own air-fried french fries and replace seaweed chicken with air-fried chicken fillets wrapped in seaweed strips. The drinks stall serves drinks with less sugar in smaller cups, and snacks are only displayed and sold during the last ten minutes of recess.

Over at Loyang Secondary School, all students and staff receive a serving of fruit in the morning for a sweet and nourishing start to the day.

Related: Cute Healthy Bento Ideas

Healthy Eating at Home


At home, parents can encourage similar healthy eating practices to cement what children have picked up in school. When planning meals for the family, use My Healthy Plate as a guide — include a portion of whole grains, meat or other proteins, and fruits and vegetables. Make sure there’s enough for the whole family!

When cooking, use healthier ingredients such as cooking oil with the HCS. You can also cut down on salt and sugar by replacing them with natural flavourings such as herbs and spices.

If your family is new to whole grain products, ease them into your diet by incorporating 20% unpolished rice for a start, before slowly increasing the amount. At breakfast, replace white bread with wholemeal bread, or add oats to pancake batter to increase its fibre content. Over time, your family may come to enjoy the natural taste of whole grain products even more than their processed counterparts.


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References

  1. Yang, C. (2017, May 14). Culinary delights from around the world. The Straits Times.
    Retrieved from http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/culinary-delights-from-around-the-world