Baked chicken nuggets and single-serve hummus may soon show up in lunch rooms across the nation. Taste-testing on school-age children has given the green light to whole-wheat pizza, but the breaded baked fish got a thumbs down. Vegetables are always the trickiest. As one 12-year old stated, his peers are "programmed to like fried stuff, so it‘s hard for them to change over."
Changing ones eating habits is not easy. Changing kids‘ eating habits is even tougher. One pediatric specialist is among those who think schools should eliminate the bad food choices altogether, leaving nothing but healthy options to choose from.
Yahoo News July 19, 2007
Altering school lunches CAN help diminish the obesity epidemic, as one Swedish study has shown. They eliminated all sweet buns, sweet drinks, and candy from school premises, and saw a 6 percent drop in obesity in four years. Behavioral problems have also been remedied by giving kids healthier lunches at school.
To be fair, schools are on tight budgets, and though they may have good intentions, they are often challenged to introduce healthier foods, particularly when kids prefer the junk-food versions.
Making the whole situation even more difficult is the massive amount of soda and vending machines that give students easy access to these health-harming foods throughout the day (while schools get kickbacks from the junk food sales). Soda machines ARE being phased out of U.S. schools, but it is a slow process.
When it really comes down to it, it is not just the schools' burden here. It is everyone's job to change the eating habits of our young.
Food is a part of the lifestyle choices first learned at home, and then massive media brainwashing enters the picture, not only at schools (who often sell fast-food meals right in their cafeteria) but also via TV ads, video games and the Internet. The food industry spends more than 35 billion dollars seeking to influence your children's food choices, so you have a major battle to defeat these unhealthy marketing messages.
You need to educate yourself about proper nutrition and the dangers of junk food and processed foods in order to change the food culture of your entire family. Once you take charge, then, perhaps, we might see a trend reversal in obesity, diabetes, and a whole host of other preventable diseases that plague the United States right now.
Children will not know which foods are healthy unless you, as a parent, teach it to them. Poor eating habits at home, combined with poor food choices at school, may set your child up for long-term physical and behavioral problems.
So when it comes time to make a choice between fast food or real food -- do your kids a favor and teach them how to make the best choice, right from the very beginning. This will help them make healthier choices later -- such as when entering school -- even though you're not around.