Nutrition and Dietary Accommodations
At the Toronto Island Natural Science School, we strive to provide a program that is stimulating, educational and memorable for all those involved. As part of this goal, we aim to provide a safe and healthy environment. We endeavour to provide food that is both nutritious and delicious. We recognize that we have many participants who may not, for medical, moral and/or religious reasons, be able to eat all of the food that our kitchen regularly provides. When we are provided with accurate information regarding the food accommodations for an individual, we will work to ensure that their food needs are met.
The TDSB Guidelines and Procedures, regarding dietary requirements: For the Accommodation of Religious Requirements, Practices and Observances, Schools and workplaces should be attentive to the dietary restrictions of the various religious groups. This includes attending to issues related to the menus provided by the catering firms, snacks in elementary schools, catering for special occasions and community events. Breakfast and lunch programs in both secondary and elementary schools should consider dietary restrictions in their menu planning. Availability of vegetarian options is recommended. Special attention needs to be given to overnight outdoor education activities, as well as field trips that expand over a mealtime period.
If you have any questions, please contact the kitchen staff at the school at 416-393-1910.
Diabetes occurs when an individual is unable to regulate their blood sugar level. With Type 1 Diabetes, an individual is unable to produce insulin, causing a buildup of glucose. With Type 2 Diabetes an individual’s pancreas does not produce enough insulin, causing a buildup of glucose. Diabetics must keep their blood glucose level in the range set by their doctor. This is achieved by eating healthy meals and snacks, physical activity and medication if prescribed. At the Island Natural Science School, we will provide extra snacks and juice for students with diabetes (juice, cookies, cheese, etc.).
Some tips for helping to maintain glucose levels:
- eat at regular intervals
- limit sugars and sweets; use artificial sweeteners
- limit high fat foods
- eat high fibre foods such as whole grains, lentils, beans, fruits and vegetables
- drink enough water to stay hydrated
- eat starchy foods such as whole grains, cereals, rice, noodles and potatoes
- eat lean protein
- drink milk or water instead of juice or pop.
Low blood sugar is caused by such things as:
- an increase in physical activity
- not eating on time, or eating too little
- taking too much medicine
A person with low blood sugar may become confused or disoriented, lose consciousness or have a seizure. They may recognize this themselves, but sometimes do not. Other signs include being shaky, nervous, becoming hungry, and an increased heart rate. They may also be sweaty, weak, numb or tingly in their tongue or lips. If an individual’s blood sugar does become low, it can be treated with a fast-acting carbohydrate: Some good examples are:
- glucose tablets (15g)
- juice/pop (not diet)
- sugar dissolved in water
After consuming, check blood sugar again in 15 minutes and if it is still low, give more juice or candy.
Lactose intolerance is the body’s inability to digest the sugar (lactose) found in dairy products. The body does not create enough lactase to break down the lactose sugars. This causes digestion problems such as nausea, stomach cramps, bloating, gas or diarrhea 30 minutes to two hours after ingesting milk or dairy products. The degree to which an individual is lactose intolerant varies. Some can eat cheese or yogurt products because active bacterial cultures in the cheese and yogurt aid in the digestion of lactose. At the Island Natural Science School, soy milk is available. Lactaid is available with at least one week’s notice.
Some tips for dealing with lactose intolerance:
- use lactose-free/soy milk wherever regular milk is used
- look for lactose-reduced or lactose-free cheese/yogurts/etc.
- take a lactase enzyme supplement before eating dairy products (i.e. Lactaid pills)
- watch for butter, cheese, cream, dried milk, milk solids, powdered milk or whey, all of which may contain lactose
Lactose is also added to some boxed, canned, frozen and prepared foods such as, but not limited to:
- salad dressings
- cake/cookie/muffin mix
- coffee creamers
There are lactose-free versions of nearly every dairy product available, such as cheese, milk, ice cream and yogurts. Also consider using soy versions of these products.
Guide for Vegetarian and Vegan Eating
There are many reasons that people choose to be a vegetarian or a vegan: moral, religious, ethical, health, environmental, and economic. Definitions: For our purposes at the Island school, we will use the following definitions:
A vegetarian does not eat the flesh of any animals, whether they are mammals, birds, fish, or any other animal. A vegetarian may still choose to eat dairy products and eggs as part of their diet. At the Island Natural Science School, students who indicate that they are vegetarian will not be served chicken, fish, beef or pork, unless they indicate that certain meats are acceptable.
A vegan does not eat or use any animal products at all.