Obesity has finally been recognized as a serious problem in American culture, and a push for healthy eating is starting to gain traction. Advocacy, legal issues, and public opinion has influenced fast food chains to begin changing their serving menus to healthier options. It has become an increasingly political issue as well, with an emphasis on providing healthier foods for public schools across the country. While these broad stroke advocacy efforts are difficult to manifest in the present, this nationwide emphasis to reduce child obesity specifically has led parents to find ways to promote healthy eating in the here and now. In order to help parents think of ways to initiate healthy eating habits, PTO Today published an article by Patti Ghezzi listing ideas to promote healthy eating around school.
Some of the ideas include:
- Plant a vegetable garden at school. This may not seem feasible depending on the nature of schools grounds, but operating a vegetable garden on raised beds that the students contribute, care for, and eat from is a great way to teach them where food comes from. With proper communication between the school administration and custodial staff, children can have a hands on approach in creating their own food, learning how things grow,how food is prepared, among a variety of learning activities.
- Field trip to a farmer’s market or a farm. Who doesn’t love a field trip? Students will be excited to move about on a learning adventure and go on a scavenger hunt. Farmers are often more than willing to share their farming experiences with children, and brings in community involvement as well.
- Make healthy snacks a learning experience. I know it might seem difficult to argue for fruits and vegetables when the vending machine spits out Reese’s, but teachers and schools can acquire various in-season fruits to have in class. This way, students can learn how to prepare them in a classroom, sample them, and work with parents and teachers abou the benefits of the foods besides just being tasty treats.
- Establish an after-school cooking club. This is something I wish I could have been immersed with more myself. Enlisting a local chef, culinary student, parent or volunteer to come into the classroom and teach basic cooking skills can be very beneficial for children (and a good skill for anyone!). Children will be able to learn how to prepare their own cooked foods, making it easier for them to learn how to eat healthy foods and seeing exactly what they are putting into their bodies.
- Offer healthy alternatives at events. Pizza, cheeseburgers and chicken fingers are delicious in my opinion, but encouraging students to add vegetable toppings and whole wheat crusts or breads with their pizza and burgers can show them just how good their favorite foods can be with alternative, healthier additions.
There are several other ideas listed, and many more you could spin off from some of these suggestions. High expenses are not required to know how to promote healthy eating for kids. Rather, it should be simple and accessible for children to learn and enjoy with the activities you do. By being active in your approach to promoting healthy eating, you will instill good eating habits in your kids and a more well-rounded knowledge of food that will help lead to healthier lifestyles.