Building healthy eating habits starts at a young age. If these habits are taught early, we will reduce the amount of unhealthy conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Unfortunately, one of the places that kids can get unhealthy foods is the school cafeteria. However, Michelle Obama’s initiative to change the way kids eat at school is setting out to change all of that.
Schools are places to learn and grow. And that education shouldn’t just focus on book smarts – it should also be focused on how to grow into a healthy adult. Learning the nutritional guidelines is a step in the right direction. Many children (and adults) don’t get the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients they need every day because they simply don’t know they need them. The knowledge is out there, and it isn’t difficult to incorporate into our daily lives.
Cafeterias often offer foods that are high in sugar and fat. But now those offerings are changing. Gone are the vending machines that are filled with sodas and other beverages that offer empty calories but no real nutritional values. Instead, the focus is more on drinking water and juices. The lunches that are offered now incorporate the ever growing needs of healthy children.
There are some states that have balked at this program, protesting that the students won’t eat lunches if the don’t like the taste. But why not give them a try? But children are adaptable, that is a known fact. Give them healthy choices and let them experiment. And the younger they are, the more apt they will be to try it, like it, and keep eating it. Instead of ice cream treats, offer frozen yogurt. Instead of breaded chicken patties on white buns with deep fried french fries, offer non-breaded chicken breasts on whole grain buns with sweet potato fries. The possibilities of adapting to a healthier menu are limitless.
Some people believe that the cost of healthier choices might have an impact on the schools budgets. But there are even ways around that. Schools can benefit from locally grown foods – some might even have the space and initiative to grow their own gardens and get the whole community involved.