SOURCE: Linsey Foods

August 29, 2007 13:00 ET

The ABCs of Back-to-School Eating Habits

MARKHAM, ON--(Marketwire - August 29, 2007) - As school gets back in session, and children are challenged with academic and extracurricular achievement, make sure they make the grade with their dietary choices as well. Studies show that many children do not even meet the minimum serving recommendations for the four food groups, and yet more youth are overweight and at risk of obesity-related diseases.

Eager to counter the ever present lure of fast food and unhealthy options, the efforts to orient children toward more fresh fruits, vegetables and nutritionally dense foods has become a 21st century crusade for parents, teachers and policy makers. "A healthy, balanced daily diet for kids may sound like simple common sense, but many of us parents feel handicapped by the constant forces that draw children toward junk food habits," says Doug Woolsey, founder of ET TU Salad Kits and a public outreach program promoting family health and welfare, called Family Mealtime.

With seven out of 10 Canadian children ages 4 to 8 years old falling short of the recommended five servings of vegetables and fruit daily, what's a parent to do?

"Active, creative parenting in this area, will inevitably shape choices. Indeed, children can acquire a taste for healthy foods," says Woolsey.

In fact, research supports that given repeated exposure, a child's aversion to a particular healthy food can actually come full circle. A 2003 report published in the journal Appetite, from researchers at University College in London, studied the effect of parents offering a daily taste of a vegetable for which the child had indicated a disliking. Tested against situations where the daily tasting encouragement was not provided, those kids who received everyday exposure increased their liking and consumption of the food. In some cases, foods which the youngsters previously wouldn't touch, had now become their favourites.

The ET TU Family Mealtime campaign offers these suggestions to encourage kids to eat more fruits and veggies:

--  Pack fresh fruits, and vegetable crudités or a salad in their daily
    school lunch.  Kids will most often eat what is packed and the frequency of
    inclusion helps them gain a palate for the desired foods.
    
--  Take kids to the produce section to have them help pick out fruits and
    vegetables with you.  Encourage them to select something they have never
    tried, and make an event of preparing it and enjoying it together.  Even
    research some folklore about the food to share for fun and learning.
    
--  Add vegetable purees to your recipes in preparations like pasta
    sauces, soups, casseroles and meatloaf, increasing the nutritional density
    of the food and downplaying kids' potential resistance to "more
    vegetables."
    
--  Craft vegetables into a variety of "kid-fave" foods, like loading a
    pizza with a delicious mix of seasoned vegetables, fashioning a chicken
    Caesar salad into whole wheat wraps or creating mixed veggie, bean and
    brown rice tacos.
    
--  Promote fresh fruit as the basis for desserts and occasional sweet
    treats.  Help kids become accustomed to the taste of a piece of fresh fruit
    as a sweet, so that sugary foods taste too sweet to them.
    

Remember, regularly engaging kids in the flavours of fresh vegetables and fruits is key to their adapting a personal preference for them.

ET TU's website offers more suggestions on making "Family Mealtime" a regular celebration for families, as well as supportive ideas and recipes to foster childrens' appetites for fresh produce. Visit www.ettu.com/familymealtime/ for information, recipes and ongoing Family Mealtime campaign details.

Contact Information

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