Magazine article USA TODAY

Helping Kids Kick Junk Food Habit

Magazine article USA TODAY

Helping Kids Kick Junk Food Habit

Article excerpt

Stumped for a way to beat your youngster's "junk food junkie" habits? Parents can fight back, and one of the best ways to teach your child is via the school lunch, suggests Rachel Barkley, assistant professor of nutritional sciences, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. "Eating is not simple for anyone anymore. In the last few years, there has been an explosion of new products and new information, as well as a flood of information from various studies--all saying something new about nutrition. Parents who are trying to make changes or teach good eating habits can end up entering into a continual battle with their children over eating."

Several steps, using the old standby "sack lunch," can be helpful in educating your offspring and steering him or her toward the proper foods:

* Become familiar with the new Federally endorsed "five-a-day" nutrition guidelines, which consist of eating five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, plus small amounts of meat, dairy products and bread. These guidelines have been shown to be effective at reducing obesity, cancer, and heart disease risk.

* Talk about the foods in the school cafeteria that are good and those that aren't. Point out foods in the grocery store and explain where they fit into an over-all nutritional program.

* Let your child help choose the foods for his or her lunch. Kids are more likely to eat what they have helped to prepare. Encourage youngsters to try whole grain and multi-grain breads for sandwiches, or vary the sandwiches by using hot dog buns, English muffins, bagels, and pita bread made from whole grains. …

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