Monday, April 26, 2010

Read to Your Preschooler While Teaching Healthy Habits

Healthy Kids Challenge wants you to read to your preschooler using books with healthy eating and physical activity messages. You can help your child build positive literacy skills and healthy habits at the same time!

  • Check out HKC's Monthly Action Ideas that give a healthy preschool activity and complimenting book to read. The month of April discusses healthy snacks and how the texture of food can influence food choices.
  • View health-themed preschool books at Michigan Team Nutrition Preschool Booklist. Check with your local librarian to see if some of the books listed are at your library.
  • Ask your local librarian to consider a corner or space in the library devoted to healthy eating and physical activity books for kids.

What's your favorite healthy eating or physical activity book for young children? Let us know!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Who Influences Your Kids' Snack Choices?

Healthy Kids Challenge thinks parents should and can be the most important influence for your kids' snack choices, but there is troubling research available.

Four large surveys of the food consumption of U.S. children over the past 30 years have determined desserts and sweetened beverages were the snacks kids were choosing. In addition food manufacturers have tried to influence kids to buy more junk food through advertising.

Help your kids make healthy snack choices with the following tips:

  • Discuss with your kids the good and bad of food marketing and advertising. Help your kids become educated food consumers and lead them towards healthier food purchasing decisions.
  • Brainstorm healthy, tasty snack options with your kids like low-fat cheese and crackers, fresh fruit or raw veggies with low-fat dip. Post a list of healthy snacks choices on the refrigerator door so your kids will have ideas.

Share with us the foods your kids choose for healthy snacks!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Impacting Agriculture Policy to Reduce Childhood Obesity

Healthy Kids Challenge shares insights regarding the role of agriculture policy and childhood obesity.

Experts feel that American farm policy has contributed to an overabundance of high-calorie food that is cheap and easily accessible to families.

One policy recommendation is that Congress should recruit farmers as essential allies in the fight against obesity, through financial and other support that encourages the production of more fruit and vegetables.

What can you do?
  • Speak up for healthy agricultural policy changes and talk with your state and local government representatives.
  • Check out the Farm to School Program as a means to support family/small-scale farmers and child nutrition. See if your school is involved.
  • Purchase produce for your family from local farmer's markets.

Does your school or youth program utilize local produce? Share your story!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Smart Snacking

Healthy Kids Challenge wants you to think about your favorite snacks and consider the texture or "mouth feel" of the food. Do you prefer the feel of soft, crunchy or chewy snacks? Does it vary?

Many crispy foods are fried and higher in fat, like potato chips. Many soft foods are high in sugar like cake, cookies and snack desserts.

If food texture affects your choices, consider these ways to be smart and health conscious.

When Soft Appeals
  • Yogurt, low fat cheese, low fat cottage cheese, fruits canned in juice, tortillas, bananas, oranges, bean dip, hummus

For the "Crunchies"

  • Baby carrots and other raw veggies, apples, whole grain crackers, pretzels, dry cereal, baked chips, nuts, low fat popcorn

Wanting Chewy?

  • Bagels, pita bread, dried fruits, low fat string cheese

Let us know other healthy snack choices to add, based on the texture you like!