In a world where it seems our best intentions are often met with disappointing results, it’s comforting to know that sometimes, things do get better. Today’s good news? Five years after the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) was signed into law, we have proof that it’s actually working.
The HHFKA revised the nutritional standards for two major school meal programs by increasing fruits, vegetables and whole grains. According to a story in JAMA Pediatrics, not only have kids not dropped out of the school lunch program as it’s become more healthful, but they’re even making better food choices on their own. Behavioral science and cognitive psychotherapy have long shown that enacting healthier habits can actually lead to a powerful change in mindset, but it’s still exciting to see this phenomenon in action.
One thing the study didn’t control for, though, is that kids sometimes chose healthy foods, but then fail to eat it (just check out the lunchroom trash bins overflowing with apples and milk for proof).
To ensure your kid won’t toss the fruits, veggies, grains or legumes apportioned them, pack a custom-made lunch or snack whenever you can. And never underestimate the power of cuteness: peanut-butter sandwiches crafted to look like teddy bears, “pizza” made from watermelon and banana slices and berry butterflies are all pretty persuasive. (For more clever and cute ways to get your kid to eat healthy, head on over here.)