Parents participated in the workshop within the project “Nutrition Friendly Schools”.

Parents of the children enrolled in the Primary School “Branko Radićević” have received several practical tips on how to make healthy food

Bojana Karanović for UNICEF
Roditelji učestvovali u radionici u okviru projekta „Škole prijatelji zdrave ishrane“
13 December 2018

Quality and healthy nutrition is crucial for the proper growth and development of children, and discipline when it comes to meals is transferred to other spheres of life, which is also important for proper upbringing. Using these words, we could summarize the common opinion of the parents of the students of the Primary School “Branko Radičević” in Banja Luka that was achieved through conversation and socializing.

At the workshop, organized on 26 November under the UNICEF Project “Nutrition Friendly Schools”, about 50 parents of students from this school participated. They, with the help of a Doctor from the Institute of Public Health of the Republika Srpska, participated in a workshop and interactive exercises on healthy eating habits to improve the quality of life of their first-grade children and other members of their families.

Under the project “Nutrition Friendly Schools”, UNICEF organized workshops with students, parents, and teaching staff in four primary schools in November and December (two in Sarajevo and two in Banja Luka). The goal of the program, being implemented under the slogan “Eat Well, Grow Well”, is the promotion of health and healthy habits in the nutrition of children of pre-school and school age. In the first phase of the project, since 2011, UNICEF has implemented workshops with pre-school children, while at this stage the focus is on children enrolled in the first grade of primary schools. During the workshops, children develop skills and learn through game, adapted to their age, which food groups are necessary in everyday nutrition, and how to prepare a healthy meal in a creative way and bring it to school. Within the program, parents and teachers also learn about the importance of healthy eating habits, in a way adapted to them.

Thus, with cheerful music and short dance, the socializing of parents in the School “Branko Radičević” started, and they all firstly presented themselves and said how many children they had. It turned out that most parents have children both younger and older than first-graders, so most of them are quite experienced when it comes to the education of children about healthy/unhealthy diet. However, professional help is more than welcome because parental care never stops, and everyone was happy to respond to the invitation to participate in the workshop.

Assistant Professor Dr. Dragana Stojisavljević from the Institute of Public Health of the Republika Srpska, National Nutrition Coordinator at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of the Republika Srpska, and sub-specialist for nutrition, prim. dr. Ljiljana Stanivuk talked with children and parents about how to be healthier, what kinds of groceries should be avoided, how many meals should we eat daily, and why physical activity and sports are important.

“When talking about the correct structure and early nutrition, three things are very important: the proper selection of foods, proper meal plan, and proper preparation of food. It is very important that when these three steps are taken, the child does not skip meals because they are very important for proper growth and development. A child, who skips breakfast and has his/her first meal around noon, will have a decrease in concentration and energy due to a drop of blood sugar, as opposed to children who have regular breakfast. One of the most common mistakes is that the child does not enter an adequate amount of food in a particular meal, or is entering too much, and therefore we have organized this workshop with parents so they can get an image of the amount of food needed for children of certain age,” says Dr Stojisavljević.

Parents, divided in teams, first practiced knowledge of the food pyramid and received new information through discussion and expert lecture. They all responded by choosing correct or incorrect claims on questions that are crucial for the food pyramid. The questions were mostly related to cereals and cereal products and how much we should eat them, to milk and dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and sweets. Most of the parents knew the correct answers, but it is indisputable that they learned many new things at the workshop.

Parents have received several practical tips on how to make healthy food more attractive for children or how to “mask” healthy food and make it interesting for children, from the professional chef Nemanja Nenadić.

Although each child is specific, when it comes to healthy eating habits, parental “torture” is universal and everyone agrees that such a wider approach to education is needed so that children adopt healthy lifestyle habits both at home and in school, because a classroom is a place where positive behavior of children is nurtured and developed.

Roditelji  u radionici u okviru projekta „Škole prijatelji zdrave ishrane“
Pravilna ishrana radionica sa roditeljima

Andrea Subotić-Popović is the mother of a first-grade student Stribor and two other children. Although she has already passed the process of acquiring healthy habits and learning about nutrition with older children, according to her experience, this is the first time that the school is actively involved in the program of promoting healthy eating habits.

“I think that these workshops are of great importance because children need to be familiar with proper healthy nutrition from the early ages. We, as a family, strive to eat healthy and consume all groups of foods that provide carbohydrates, proteins, and fats that are needed for the health of the body. Usually, when the child goes to school, I prepare him a meal. Occasionally, I prepare some sweets, cakes or biscuits, but we prefer to use freshly prepared foods. For instance, it can be a sandwich with butter or kaymak with our homemade sausage, basically with something that is not processed food. And when we don’t have homemade products, then I use ham. As parents of more children, more precisely speaking of teenagers, when it comes to nutrition, we are looking for compromise solutions, as we know they will sometimes buy and eat fast food, but we are talking with them about that topic and they know that unhealthy foods lead to obesity and cause other problems. I think that Stribor will have a little bit of influence on his brother and sister after this workshop, so they will learn something from him and gain good habits,” says Andrea.

Other parents also agree with Andrea. Quality and balanced nutrition is crucial for healthy growth and development, and with that, the discipline is transmitted to other spheres of life, which is important for the proper upbringing of every child. Among them is also Sofija’s mother, Nikolina Kusić.

“I am very glad that Sofia and her friends from the first grade passed this workshop, and such occasions should be emphasized as much as possible. Nowadays there are too many temptations around children, and it is very difficult for us, parents, to have control over such things all the time. Even before this workshop, children had the opportunity to learn about healthy nutrition, but they poorly adhere to it. I think that many parents make an initial mistake because they allow snacks and other unhealthy foods with which children come to school where other children see them. Then, as parents, we need to explain to them why that is not right, but the child only sees that it is not forbidden for some, and for my daughter it is,” explains mom Nikolina.

She thinks that healthy eating habits would be much more interesting to the children and that much better results would be achieved if all parents would stick together and if all unhealthy food was forbidden at school.

“It is evident that the trend of consuming unhealthy food takes its toll because today many children enter puberty suffering from obesity, which was not so common in the past. Such workshops should be held as often as possible, perhaps every month to devote one day to the children and their nutrition, so that children would choose healthy foods from their early age, and would know the consequences of consuming sweets and other unhealthy foods,” says Nikolina.

Earlier in the day, at the Primary School “Branko Radičević”, a workshop for students was held, which was held in a cheerful atmosphere and with many small arms raised in the air – children were eager to answer the questions and speak with chefs and nutritionist about what they like to eat, and what they do not like, but also what kind of food their moms, dads, brothers and sisters like. Many sympathetic answers and comments were heard at the workshop, as one answer on the question what is a basic grocery, an interesting answer was given: “Soup!”.

Not only did the first-grade students learn about the food pyramid, but they also actively participated in the workshop, so the chef Nemanja, after the children put their cooking caps, aprons, and gloves on, helped everyone to make exactly as many meals as they wanted, made up of various healthy foods that were available.

Workshops with students, parents, and teachers were also held in the Primary School “Jovan Jovanović Zmaj” in Banja Luka, as well as in the First Primary School Ilidža and the Primary school “Isak Samokovlija” in Sarajevo.

UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina conducts the project “Nutrition Friendly Schools” in cooperation with the competent ministries, public health institutes, NGO Public Health Partnership and the Association of Chefs of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Under the slogan “Eat Well, Grow Well”, our goal is to, together with children, parents, and teaching staff, develop awareness of the importance of adopting and nurturing healthy lifestyle habits.

The goal of the project, which is implemented according to the methodology of the World Health Organization, is not only to promote healthy diet among children and youth, but also to influence the adoption of appropriate policies at the level of educational institutions that would place healthy living habits in the general program and continuously promote them.