LANA (Learning About Nutrition through Activities) is a program that has been adopted by preschools and childcare centers to introduce new foods and encourage children to eat more fruits and vegetables. Because Lana (the program’s iguana mascot) is a vegetarian, the focus is on fruits and vegetables, but through the program, research has shown that children become more open to tasting new foods in general.
LANA is a nutrition curriculum that can be integrated into any existing curriculum. Its lessons cover a variety of subject areas – everything from math, to language arts, to dramatic play, to large motor skills. Teachers who use LANA find it to be an effective way to teach children about healthy eating habits while incorporating it into what they are already doing.
Lana the Iguana wants foods to be new and exciting, so she uses a list of fruits and vegetables that, while easy for schools/centers to obtain, are outside of the normal apples and oranges that children are exposed to most often. Through the LANA program, children are given the chance to try kiwi, strawberries, apricots, sugar snap peas, sweet red peppers, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and cherry tomatoes. These foods are packed with nutrients and can be prepared in a variety of ways.
What has made LANA (and Lana) so popular is the low-pressure techniques that teachers use to expose the children to these new foods. Children are not forced, bribed, or coerced into trying anything. Children see the foods in stories, songs, plush toys, snacks, etc. They are given many opportunities to help prepare them as well as try them in a variety of ways, but are never pressured to do so. The low-pressure atmosphere makes the learning process enjoyable for both the teachers and the kids. This not only makes LANA popular, but also successful.
One thing that makes LANA so unique is the strong home component. No matter what schools/childcare centers do, if the practices are not reinforced at home, you won’t see much success. Through LANA, parents and care givers are closely informed about the program and what foods the children are tasting on any given day. They also receive tips and helpful hints about what they can do to encourage healthy eating at home. LANA schools/centers also often host parent/child events to learn about and celebrate healthy eating!
Lana the Iguana brings the LANA approach to nutrition education to life for the children. Those that participate in the program come away with a better understanding of what it means to eat a healthy variety of foods. They have fun learning to be healthy. Learning, having fun, AND proven results? I don’t think you could ask for more from a program!
If you would like more information about the LANA program or products, visit the LANA website at http://lananutrition.com/. Lana is also on Twitter @lanaprekprogram and Facebook under LANA Preschool Program.