Bethan Lewis-Powell, the Founder of The Mulberry House School believes that if children are taught how to make healthy choices in life at a young age, this will instil a lifelong natural ability to make the right decisions for their ongoing health. This goes beyond just food choices, but choices about sustainability, choosing cleaner, greener options not only for their health but for the health of the planet and everyone around them.
There are so many articles and research papers on nutrition that it’s hard to know which ‘diet’ to follow. One thing that almost everyone agrees on is the need to eat more vegetables and more plant based meals. The reduction of meat and the increase of legumes and other fibres have been proved to exert beneficial effects on gut health leading to a healthier longer life. We need to look at what we eat, and where it is grown.
One of the best places to start is to look at an anti-inflammatory diet, or what is also known as ‘the Mediterranean diet’. The idea is based around the old school Mediterranean diet and its antioxidant compounds. We need to think back a good 80 years ago or more as to why this diet might be beneficial for our health (rather than the modern Mediterranean diet), but we also need to remember this is not a ‘diet’ so much as a way of living. A diet implies it will be for a short period of time, this is about creating a way of eating that is sustainable both for the planet and for ourselves.
Our nutritionist offers some simple points to this way of eating here.
As a vegetarian school, we replace meat with vegetarian sources of protein as mentioned above, by doing this the school is helping to reduce carbon and other greenhouse emissions. If you are going to consume meat and fish it should only be a few times a week, but most importantly you need to consider where your meat and fish are sourced from. This is not just about the care of these animals and the future of our seas but also about the nutrient density of the product being consumed. Like all foods, poorly raised will mean lesser nutrient status be it plant or animal.
The Mulberry House School takes great pride in the amount of education the children get on nutrition and how to make healthy choices. This starts with the menu provided for the children who eat there; a mostly plant based menu that is nutritionally sound, packed with vegetables of all colours and has reduced sugar.
The school puts a huge emphasis on ensuring the children have a diet that enables them to function and learn effectively. This is done by ensuring that the children’s meals and snacks are carefully designed to:
- balance blood sugars, so there should be no energy crash at any point in the day, meaning more concentration and focus.
- contain enough protein and healthy fats and a wide variety of nutrients to support their growth and development.
- include some nutrients that are often forgotten about like iodine which helps to regulate metabolism, growth and the function of key organs. This is done by adding seaweed flakes to several of the dishes of each menu, which also adds a depth of flavour too.
The school employs chefs to work on site so that the meals and snacks are all freshly prepared. The school’s nutritional therapist, works closely with the chefs creating recipes and a menu that ensures all the children’s needs for growth and development are met. They hold nutrition classes across the school for all ages. There are parents’ evenings focused on nutrition in the home, mental health in children, and movement and learning so that the education spreads out to all the areas the children exist in.
The school is proud to have been awarded the title of a Green Flag School last year, this is something they have been working very hard to achieve. It has taken effort from all the staff and the pupils, who have put into action all that is expected from this title; from recycling, to saving water, looking at their nutrition and even their dental health. This award acknowledges schools that support global sustainability in every way and prepares its pupils to lead the world to a healthier, cleaner more sustainable future.
Our nutritionist, Kate Waters has always said that, “It is an honour to be working with a school that holds their children’s health and education around health in such high regard; the value they put on this is rare and it will have a lasting effect on these children’s lives”.