You can send healthy snacks like fruit with kids to school, but how do you get them to actually eat it? I can remember trading away healthy lunch fare as a child, or just bringing home an uneaten orange in my lunch bag. I soon learned to toss uneaten healthy food in the trash, to avoid uncomfortable questions at home. What can help school kids learn to prefer the healthy stuff in their lunch?
One answer is to have their friends bring fruit to school also.
A study published on May 13, 2008 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health underlined the importance of what their friends eat. Peer influence is huge in school-aged kids. When schools opened a new snack bar that served only fruit, it did nothing to either increase fruit consumption or to decrease chips and cookies – unless they also asked families to stop sending salty or sugary snacks to school. But if schools did take that extra step, daytime fruit sales and real fruit eating shot up.
Talking with your school about adopting a similar policy, or talking with the parents of your children’s closest friends, may be one of the most important steps you can take to improve their eating habits at that age. And modeling healthy eating at home, including reducing the availability of salty and sugary snacks in the pantry, is the other side of the same equation.
J. Epidemiol. Community Health Epub May 13 2008. doi:10.1136/jech.2007.070953