This is How we can Revolutionize our Children’s School Lunch.

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Imagine this: there’s a birthday celebration in your child’s class at school, and the table is filled with cakes, junk food, and a platter of fresh fruit.

Your child looks at the cake. They look at the junk food. They look at the fruit.

And with a big grin on their face, they choose the fruit.

We all want our kids to make healthy choices about what they eat—especially at school. We are dreaming about the day our child asks for fruit instead of a cookie. The good news: that’s all possible! It’s actually simple to get our children to make healthy choices.

Let’s explore the science of how.

An interesting study recently considered the link between self-control and portion size in children. Given a plate of cookies and told to eat as many as they liked, young test subjects ate 25 percent less when those cookies were cut in half.

Looking at our global obesity epidemic, findings like these are essential, right? But it’s really not enough to simply decrease the quantity of junk food our children eat; ideally they wouldn’t choose any.

But attempts to ban all those crispy bags of hydrogenated oil and trans fat (and bubbly cans of sugar water) have been met with staunch opposition—especially around the United States. Texas went so far as to pass a “Safe Cupcake Amendment” (commonly known as Lauren’s Law), which protects parents’ and family members’ rights to bring whatever they want to school to celebrate their little one’s birthday.

What would happen, though, if we gave children the chance to make their own choices about nutrition, offering them, for example, both sugary sweets and juicy, ripe fruits to eat?

Researchers did just that, and the results were fascinating.

When they added bowls of fresh, sliced fruit to the table at a kindergarten birthday party—without making any particular attempt to push the fruit on the partygoers—on average, every child ate a full serving size of fruit!

In my experience, too, kids are thrilled to have fresh fruit to eat.

At a recent birthday party with my daughter, I promised I’d find her a yummy (and vegan) treat when a sugary, processed cake was served for dessert. When we went to the table and sat in front of the fruit platter, she was delighted. She ate tons of fresh, wholesome fruit, no cake—and she loved it.

No one else had offered their children fruit, so I passed around the platter. Of about 10 kids, only one didn’t take any.

In addition to offering healthy options to children outside their homes (and especially in schools), education is key.

Some schools are starting to offer food education as part of their year-round programming, featuring a “veggie of the month” and spreading nutrition maxims such as, ’‘Fiber equals a happy tummy.’’

These kinds of initiatives work. Young children engage with their food, learn about nutrition, and have fun doing it. And, most importantly, they eat more veggies as a result.

One school even managed to double students’ consumption of veggies just by changing the names. For example, “X-ray Vision Carrots” were twice as appealing to elementary school students, compared to regular carrots or “Veggie of the Day.” Tiny Tasty Tree Tops were more than 100 percent more attractive than broccoli.

This is not rocket science. Offering children healthy food options—combined with trying to make those foods look and sound appealing—will lead to healthier choices.

More schools should be doing this! How about suggesting it at yours?

~

Resources:

N. Beasley, S. Sharma, R. Shegog, R. Huber, P. Abernathy, C. Smith, D. Hoelscher. The quest to Lava Mountain: Using video games for dietary change in children. J Acad Nutr Diet 2012 112(9):1334 – 1336.

D. Marchiori, L. Waroquier, O. Klein. ‘Split them!’ smaller item sizes of cookies lead to a decrease in energy intake in children. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2012 May-Jun;44(3):251-5.

C. Vereecken, A. Rovner, L. Maes. Associations of parenting styles, parental feeding practices and child characteristics with young children’s fruit and vegetable consumption. Appetite 2010 55(3):589 – 596.

C. A. Johnston, J. L. Palcic, C. Tyler, S. Stansberry, R. S. Reeves, J. P. Foreyt. Increasing vegetable intake in Mexican-American youth: A randomized controlled trial. J Am Diet Assoc 2011 111(5):716 – 720.

A. Olsen, C. Ritz, L. Kramer, P. Moller. Serving styles of raw snack vegetables. What do children want? Appetite 2012 59(2):556 – 562.

B. Wansink, D. R. Just, C. R. Payne, M. Z. Klinger. Attractive names sustain increased vegetable intake in schools. Prev Med 2012 55(4):330 – 332.

 

Author: Donna Wild

Image: Wikimedia Commons / Flickr

Editor: Sara Kärpänen

 

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Donna Wild

Donna Wild, Founder

When Donna was 12 years old, she had a dream to be a dancer and have a house on a property with some happy cows. However, this was the year that doctors diagnosed her with juvenile arthritis and began medicating her for the pain. At 17 years of age, she visited specialists who diagnosed her with chronic rheumatoid arthritis in her entire body and said she would be crippled by the time she was just 22. By then, she had spent her life training to be a professional dancer, however, had become 13 kilograms overweight and directionless.

Donna believes that animal cruelty is wrong and personally suffers when she sees the way humans treat animals, she has worked tirelessly for a decade to empower people and families to eat in alignment with their belief- cruelty-free.

Today, Donna is a Mum of a four-year-old, a Nutritionist, a popular plant-based health and lifestyle author and an Australian Latin Dance Champion. She is completely free of arthritis, pain, and medication.

With her experience transitioning from a meat-eating to vegetarian, to vegan, to purely plant-based diet, and with the tens of thousands of hours she’s put into learning about nutrition and human bodies, Donna has gone just as deep into the ethics behind what we eat which is how she came to found this charity.

Til The Cows Come Home is a charity that aims to be the World Vision for livestock animals, on a mission to rescue animals that are too sick or injured to make it to slaughter and re-home them to a sanctuary to live a full and happy life, just as Donna imaged as a child.

Donna welcomes comments and questions!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/healthysexyvegan/

Blog: http://donnawild.com/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/DonnaWild

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/healthysexyveganmumma/ and https://www.instagram.com/healthysexyvegan/

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