5 Ways to Help Kids Get Interested in Healthy Eating

January 10, 2013

Red and purple fruits and veggies

Whether your school is participating in the HealthierUS School Challenge or not, chances are the kids are being introduced to many more fruits and veggies and whole grain servings than they have been used to in the past. So what’s the trick to getting them to EAT those healthy choices? After all, it’s not nutrition unless they eat it…

  1. Set up the cafeteria for success. Success in helping them choose the healthier options that is. Have you heard of the Lunch Line Redesign? Or Smarter Lunchrooms Movement? Check them out for ideas.
  2. Spark interest with color. A rainbow of colors make any meal more appealing, and especially for kids. But don’t stop with the menu options. Add color to the walls using posters and bulletin boards, even repainting the cafeteria to make it more inviting.
  3. Rename the fruits and vegetables. Cooked carrots. Steamed broccoli. Sound appealing? Giving them descriptive names has been shown to help kids get interested in taking them AND eating them! You don’t even have to change how you prep them, just change the name. Examples include: “X-ray vision carrots”, and “Tiny Tasty Tree Tops.”
  4. Ask the kids for input! When you ask their opinion on healthy options, it gives them ownership in the changes, and they are more likely to eat what they helped create. Start a youth advisory council if you haven’t already, or create a simple contest for naming the cafeteria or a holiday menu. Taste tests are a proven winner!
  5. Promote, promote, promote. Think like a marketing expert. “Advertise” your healthy options on bright bulletin boards, or with new, colorful name cards. Change the placement of the veggies and fruit on the lunch line so they are offered first rather than last. Switch out stainless steel bowls for colorful options; even stacking a bowl of fruit on top of an upside down bowl gives visual appeal.

Specific action ideas that go along with these suggestions can be found in Explore MyPlate with School Nutrition™, a Healthy Kids Challenge resource. Action ideas are designed to increase interest in healthy eating and help meet the HealthierUS School Challenge criteria. Content includes MyPlate, trivia, bulletin boards, food science experiments to link with curriculum standards, menu planning tips, and fun ideas for youth advisory councils.

For even more on creating interest in healthy school meals, see the following:
HealthierUS School Challenge
School Meals That Rock
Tray Talk
School Nutrition Association

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