Helping Kids Make Better Choices Just in Time for Start Eating Healthy Day

By EmilyM

While it’s not a holiday you will find on your  calendar, today is Start! Eating Healthier Day, sponsored by the American Heart Association. It serves as part of a campaign designed to remind us all that our health is largely dependent on how we  feed our bodies. We all have the ability to take control of our eating habits and with this in mind, several of today’s headline stories highlight the need for Americans, young and old, to start paying close attention to discovering new healthier food options.

It seems appropriate that that a new law aimed at banning toys in unhealthy McDonald’s Happy Meals may soon pass in San Francisco, California. This is being done in an effort to remove the incentive for kids to eat unhealthy fast food only to be rewarded  with a toy. On Tuesday, the initial approval was given, but if the law passes,  it won’t be put into action  until December 2011.

Toys, however, will be permitted in Happy Meals that meet certain health qualifications. The meal must not contain any more than 600 calories or 640 milligrams of sodium, and no more than 35 percent of the calories can come from fat.In addition, fruits and veggies must also be served to round out the meal in portions of at least 1/2 cup of fruit and 3/4 cup vegetables and drinks that are offered as part of the meal must be low in fat and sugar.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, McDonald’s is currently fighting this initiative, claiming that there are other ways to help children eat healthy aside from changing the contents of their traditional Happy Meals.

With this serves as just one example of helping children observe healthier eating patterns, there are others ways that we, as adults, can do the same.  With the holidays around the corner, treats and temptations are lurking in most offices, homes and pantries everywhere. There are many ways to make healthy decisions when it comes to avoiding holiday indulging as listed in an earlier post this week here.

Yet another interesting health topic in the news recently is the story of two Pennsylvania dentists offering a candy buy-back incentive plan to not only help children avoid overindulging in sugar sweets, but to also offer support to the U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. When children bring in their Halloween candy, they will earn $1/pound with the proceeds used exclusively for boosting the morale of U.S. soldiers. This type of motivation not only helps kids cut down on sweets, but also helps them to understand the importance of their contribution.

While it is wonderful that today we are forced to call awareness to making healthier food choices , we should also consider healthy food alternatives tomorrow and each day after that. With the holidays hot on our heels and feasts galore in our immediate futures, you may just want to start making those New Year’s resolutions sooner rather than later. With so many uncertainties in life, it’s reassuring to know that you can make a huge impact on your own health, as well as the health of your family, when you consider choosing healthy options for your meals and snacks.