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Effective Ways to Promote Real Food (Especially to Kids)

Article author photo. Donna Castellano MS, RDN This featured post is by Donna Castellano MS, RDN. You can follow this blogger @thehangingspoon.

So many people, far too many people, still don’t get it what you eat matters. It matters to your health, to the environment and planet and to the future of our country.

Enter Food Day  a nationwide event created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest — that brings attention to all that matters about the food we eat.

Despite what we know about the food-disease relationship, obesity and diet-related disease rates continue to rise. Most people still lack the basic fundamental food knowledge to make important decisions regarding their health, which ultimately effects the future of our country and the entire planet. Here are some more disturbing facts…

  • Our kids are downing triple the daily recommended amount of sugar and double the recommended amount of sodium due to the prevalence and abundance of highly processed foods and junk-food marketing.
  • More than 80 percent of kids do not get the daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables.  

It’s really not a mystery why cancer and disease rates in both adults and children are soaring — genetics loads the gun, but the environment pulls the trigger. Can’t we can give our kids a better destiny than to be the first generation to die at a younger age than their parents because of the food they eat?

This is why I’ve focused so much of my energy on the next generation. We have the chance to empower them to make the right choices for themselves and our planet. Here’s were you come in. You can support the Food Day movement for healthy, affordable, sustainable food simply by talking to your parents and friends, your spouse and your children.

Go a step further by establishing a wellness committee at your local school, work place or community center (for more info on how to do this, visit Let’s Move and Alliance for A Healthier Generation.org). My committee began with one member — me — but it only takes one person to ignite the flame. Through the years we’ve slowly grown into a talented group of parents inspired to make real changes. Here are some examples of Food Day events that have gotten parents, teachers, kids and our community talking real food.

School-wide Fruit and Vegetable Challenge   

Have children complete a chart during a two-week challenge by writing down any new fruits and vegetables they try. Parents sign off stating they’ve completed the challenge, and children are then entered into a drawing to win prizes. In the past we’ve given away pumpkins, school store coupons and gift cards to art supply stores.

“Dunk The Junk” Art Contest

If you don’t know about Dunk the Junk, you should. It was developed by a pediatrician who was so disturbed by the obesity statistics in his hometown that he began educating kids about eating healthy through street-art images. We used this concept at our school last year. Children from all grades got to create their own “Dunk The Junk” artwork for a school-wide contest. To tie into the theme we invited one of our area’s most talented cartoonists to be our judge. All artwork was displayed in our school’s main hallway, and winners received free art lessons donated by the local arts center!

“Fall Into Healthy Habits”

This year children are coloring printable apples and writing down a healthy habit they’d like to work on for the current school year, such as drinking less soda, eating more veggies or exercising more. Apples are being hung in our main hallway and children who participate will be entered into drawings to win prizes on Food Day! We will also be having a fall harvest with our school garden's vegetables.

Looking back, it’s hard to believe all we’ve done so far. At the time it seemed like so little, but we are slowly making a difference. Children are getting excited about being healthy and doing what is right! Use today as your starting point to a healthier life for you and your family, and start planning ahead for Food Day 2015!

Donna Castellano, MS, RDN, is a wife, mother, registered dietitian, Jamie Oliver Food Revolution ambassador and real food blogger. Read her blog and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

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