A child’s diet must be both balanced and healthy.
Students need lots of energy to take on their daily routine. Every day brings new challenges, and they need nutrients to overcome them. That’s why educational centres from the Best Schools in Spain network believe it is so important to design menus with quality, fresh foods that provide the nutrients and energy children need.
Nowadays, the reality of society and the world of work (single-parent families, both parents work, children attend a school far from their home, etc.) has led an increasing number of families to choose the school canteen for their children. In addition to giving children all the nutrition they need, here it is also important to instil hygiene habits such as maintaining general cleanliness, washing hands, brushing teeth, handling food when eating, etc., as well as teach them good table manners such as using cutlery, sitting in a good position, chewing their food properly, using their napkin, not talking with their mouth full, etc.
What’s more, in school canteens children are encouraged to try new things, which gets them into the habit of eating a wide variety of foods and leads them to follow a healthy lifestyle with the balance and moderation typical of the Mediterranean diet from a young age.
Quality standards, the Mediterranean diet and individual care
The nutritional pyramid is a visual reference of the amount of different food groups we need to eat every day to stay healthy. Various national and international organisms provide guidelines on how we should eat. In Spain, this organism is the Spanish Society of Community Nutrition (SENC), which presented an updated nutritional pyramid in 2015.
At the bottom in the widest part of the pyramid, we find foods that should be eaten frequently, and the further up the pyramid a food is located, the less often we should eat it. Also at the bottom of the pyramid, we can see some recommendations that will help us acquire healthy lifestyle habits. Foods that we should only eat every so often are at the tip of the pyramid: sweets, cakes, solid fats and salty snacks.
School canteens must meet minimum composition and quality standards and should promote a traditional way of eating based on the Mediterranean diet with large amounts of locally produced fresh foods, fruits and vegetables, offering a menu that provides around 30 – 35% of children’s daily energy requirements. The daily menu has three courses, with a first course of pulses, pasta or rice and a second course of meat, fish or eggs with a vegetable-based side dish. Dessert is either fruit or yoghurt. On special occasions, students have a “sweeter” dessert option, which they all undoubtedly choose.
A healthy and varied diet at BSS schools
We always adapt to any special requirements, allergies or intolerances that students may have and offer them an alternative.
At the Best Schools in Spain, we believe that variety is the spice of life. Therefore, we try to not repeat the same daily menu within the same fortnight. What’s more, the menus vary depending on the time of year to make the most of in-season produce.
Each school sends the menus to families in advance so parents can see what their children are eating.
Concerning the rest of the day’s meals, children’s evening meal and snacks should complement the meal they eat at school. They shouldn’t eat the same things that they ate at lunch later on in the day to ensure they eat a wide variety of foods. Snacks could be fruit, dairy products or sandwiches, and should account for 10 – 15% of children’s daily energy needs. “Family dinners” without distractions are also very important, as several studies associate them with healthy eating patterns.
At the Best Schools in Spain, we work to ensure the well-being of all our students. Education also involves familiarising students with healthy lifestyle habits such as eating a good and balanced diet, exercising regularly and getting enough rest.