Healthy Role Models

It is important to be a healthy role model in your out-of-school time program. Staff modeling of healthy eating behaviors reinforces good habits and prevents youth from receiving mixed messages. These mixed messages can occur when the healthy eating policies and practices at your site do not mirror what youth see staff doing.

Continue to educate your staff and give them the latest resources to be the best example of health for the youth at your site.

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Three Things to Consider...

1. Think about the foods and beverages you bring in and consume…what message do they send? If youth see us drinking water and snacking on fruits and veggies, a strong message is sent about the importance of good nutrition.

2. Eating with the youth also sends a message that a healthy meal or snack is an important part of their day.  While eating with youth, talk to them about the foods they are eating.  If there is a new fruit or vegetable on the menu that day, for example, talk with them about fruits and vegetables.  Get the conversation going and explore the other fruits and vegetables youth like to eat.  If you know what the meal or snack is ahead of time, research a fun healthy fact or two about that food to help facilitate the conversation during meal or snack time. And don’t forget to ENJOY the meal or snack yourself!

3. Stay positive! Youth pick up on positive AND negative messages.  Remember that positive and negative comments from us about food can influence youths’ attitudes on food.  Avoid talking negatively about food.  Instead, focus on the importance of filling up with healthy foods because they are full of nutrients that will help youth grow and learn.  Talk to them about how healthy foods give them more energy and help them stay fuller longer than sugary, fatty foods. Healthy foods are important for fueling both their bodies and their minds.  Good nutrition is important to help them grow up strong and give them energy so they can be active, but it also helps them learn and focus better.

If youth truly don’t like a certain food on the menu, consider these questions to help them explore other options:

  • Is it the preparation?
  • Is it the way the food looks?
  • Is it because they are unfamiliar with it? Have they ever tried it?
  • Would they like this green vegetable over that green vegetable?

Be a positive role model and practice good nutrition and healthy eating behaviors at your site!  Check out www.ChooseMyPlate.gov for additional resources on healthy eating and good nutrition.  View the 10 Tips Nutrition Education Series for easy to follow tips on several nutrition-related topics!

 

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Jill Turley is one of our National Nutrition Advisors.
Ask her questions, get her suggestions, and see how she can help you create a healthier environment.

Get to Know Jill | Email Jill | Phone: (580) 747 - 9230

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