5 Ways to Get Kids to Eat Healthier
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children view around 40,000 television commercials per year. Most are for high-calorie snacks and sugared cereals. Research has shown that these ads lead children to ask for more junk food, which may be contributing to the fact that today around a third of the nation’s children are considered overweight or obese (a rate that has more than tripled in the last three decades). Further, it is reported that teens ages 14-18 are consuming an average of 34 teaspoons of sugar per day.
“Parents may be surprised by just how much influence there is for kids to eat unhealthily,” explains Jolly Backer, the chief executive officer of Fresh Healthy Vending (www.freshvending.com). “This is why it is so important for parents, educators and other adults to make an ongoing effort to get kids to make healthier eating decisions.”
The good news is that there are things that people can do in order to help teach children to make healthier choices. Here are 5 ways to help do just that:
- Get them involved. Children who have fun and are involved are more likely to remember the information. The more kids are involved, the more they will get out of the experience. To learn about healthy food and nutrition, they can help garden, plan and prepare meals, etc. A fun way to do this is to give the child $5 to spend in the produce department, or at the farmers market, on fruits or vegetables of their choice – without any complaint or influence from the parents, which is the key. Let the child explore and learn. No matter what they pick out, the parent can find a healthy recipe so they can prepare it together.
- Teach them. Even younger children can learn about what is healthy and not, label reading, and making healthy choices. Take the time to teach children why making healthy food choices is a better route, teach them how to read labels, etc.
- Snack healthy. Children usually need a couple of snacks to keep them going throughout the day. The CDC recommends that kids keep snacks to under 100 calories and it is ideal to have those snacks be low-fat and low-sugar. Help kids learn to identify healthier snack options when they see them, such as fruits and vegetables, yogurt, granola bars, and baked chips.
- Be a role model. One of the most important things that parents can do in order to get their kids to eat healthier is to model healthy eating habits. When parents eat healthy, they are demonstrating to their children the ideal way to eat. Consistently modeling this, over time, will influence children, even if it is years later.
- Influence change. Work with school administrators and others to influence healthy changes. For example, work with your school to get healthier snacks and lunch options on campus, and work with local legislators to place limits on junk food commercials on television.
“The more that parents make an effort to focus on healthier food options for their kids, the likelier the kids are to become willing participants,” adds Backer. “When we look at what is happening with health issues in this country, there is just no getting around this problem. We have to create a healthier eating environment for our children, whether at home, at school, or at a recreation center.”
Fresh Healthy Vending is a company that aims to help bring healthier food options to children across the country. Their healthy vending machines have been placed in over 800 locations around the nation and in Canada, including in schools, hospitals, and corporate centers. Each vending machine is dual-climate controlled and filled with all-healthy food options, including healthy drinks, fresh fruits and vegetables, protein and granola bars, yogurt, and baked crackers and chips.