Over 100 secondary school students pursuing the Food and Nutrition syllabus were taught valuable lessons on how to adopt healthy habits to curb the increasing number of persons with non-communicable diseases.
The occasion was the Health and Wellness Seminar hosted by the Barbados Light & Power Company Limited and the St. Lucy Parish Independence Committee this morning at the Daryll Jordan Secondary School, Trents, St. Lucy. It was entitled: Eat Right: Future Bright – Good Nutrition is our Mission. It was part of Education Month activities.
The students who represented The St. Michael School, Springer Memorial, Combermere, St. George Secondary, Coleridge & Parry and Daryll Jordan Secondary Schools were taught how to read food labels, the correct portion sizes when plating food, and the sugar content of some of the popular beverages they consumed on a daily basis, which shocked many of them.
Education Officer with responsibility for Food and Nutrition and presenter Hedda Phillips-Boyce told the students that many of their food choices at present could lead them down the path of sickness and disease if they did not change their habits.
She also took issue with a lot of the foods served at school canteens, which many of the students pointed out were mostly high in fats, sugar and salt during the interactive session. However, Mrs. Phillips-Boyce suggested to students that they had the power to determine what canteens offered for lunch by simply choosing not to buy unhealthy foods and demanding better and healthier options.
She added that this would require a paradigm shift not only from students, but also their parents who needed to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into what they served their children at home. She pointed out that while the School Meals Service offered fruit as part of its menu, it was more often than not discarded by students on a daily basis.
“The children at primary schools use the apples provided by School Meals as footballs, instead of eating them. And at secondary schools, the canteens don’t sell the healthy food because students don’t buy them. You have to remember the canteen owners are in business, and they will serve what sells.
“We want to start with you [here today] so you can make healthy choices with your children, when the time comes. I know of two children of primary school age who have suffered strokes. We have children with Type 2 diabetes. These are diseases that I am supposed to have as an adult, not children. This is how serious it is in Barbados, and how serious it is for you to be educated about the right things to do to stay healthy,” Mrs. Phillips-Boyce stressed.
Additionally, she gave students a few tips to help them on their journey to better health.
“One of the things you have to remember is that a fist is a portion of carbohydrates and the palm of your hand is a portion of protein. It is not only the foods you select, but the portion sizes. If your parents find the vegetables in the supermarket too expensive, they might have to go back to backyard gardening. We need to come up with ways to start eating healthily,” the Education Officer maintained.
She also urged students to stop drinking carbonated drinks, some of which could contain as much as over 62 grams or 16 teaspoons of sugar per bottle, and swap them for water or flavoured water, which had significantly less sugar.