Potluck Tuesday: Better School Lunches

You do a great job of shopping for your family and enticing your kids with foods that are both
nutritious and delicious. But how can you be sure they get the same good food vibes at school?

The Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics, led by Brian Wansink, is watching out for your
kids. Their research—some of which can be seen at SmarterLunchrooms.org—can help kids
make better choices at school and at home. Here are a few of their findings, with tips for how
to apply them in your kitchen.

Cut That Fruit. Little kids – especially those with front teeth missing – may be put off by whole
fruits. In one study, schools that switched from whole apples to pre-sliced ones saw average
daily apple sales increase 71%!

  • Keep fruit cups or prepared fruit in places where kids can help themselves after school, and consider desserts based on fresh or canned fruit instead of cookies or ice cream.
    Go to study

Use Fun Names. Kids doubled carrot consumption when the vegetables were described as “X-Ray Vision Carrots” instead of just “carrots.” (Calling broccoli “fairy trees” helps too!)

  • Set an example by coming up with fun names for everyday foods, and invite your kids to add their creative ideas. Go to study

Put Healthy Choices Upfront. When white milk was simply placed in front of chocolate milk in the cooler, kids at some schools voluntarily drank 50% more unflavored milk. When chocolate milk was banned outright, however, overall milk consumption decreased and some students stopped buying school lunch. Go to study

  • Arrange your fridge so that healthy choices are easiest to grab, and special treats are tucked away in back, behind other items. Go to study
Pick Smaller Plates. Buffet diners given larger plates served themselves 52% more, ate 45% more, and wasted 135% more than those with smaller plates – even though diners were attending a health conference and had been warned about the dangers of larger plates!

  • Consider using smaller plates and encouraging your family to pause and see whether they’re full before eating more. Go to study

Often the food choices we make are heavily affected by environmental cues. Changes like those above cost nothing—but can make a big difference in helping your whole family make healthier choices.

Thanks to Oldways Nutrition Exchange program for the content: http://oldwayspt.org/

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