An Innovative Kid-Friendly Way to Promote Healthy Eating

In our current toxic food environment, our kids might be the most susceptible of all. From billboards to commercials, the food and beverage industry spends around 1.8 billion dollars per year to reach children both in and out of the home. What’s worse is that most children under age six cannot distinguish between regular programming and advertising, and those below age eight do not understand the persuasive intent of advertising. Children are attracted to friendly characters and bright colors which do not only appear on their screens, but also on the packages of cereals, cookies, and other foods that make them ‘happy,’ found in grocery stores and fast food restaurants. No wonder it can be hard to get our children excited about healthy food which still has not been widely promoted in a kid-friendly way. When a child’s exposure to personality-filled advertisements averages over 13 per day, does a plain carrot or a bunch of kale even stand a chance—especially when eating away from home?

One Boston-based start-up is taking some cues from character-filled food marketing, but turning the tables to get children to eat better. Sproot is a new meal delivery service that brings nutritionally-balanced, whole food lunches to preschool kids in the Boston area. While their buzzwords like “handmade” and “real” ingredients are appealing to busy parents, it’s the presentation and packaging that is capturing the attention of their kids. Depending on the day, goodies like parmesan-roasted chickpea trail mix or flower-shaped carrot slices arrive in animal-themed bento boxes like smiling kittens or bright green frogs.

Sproot’s packaging makes the meal for kids pleasant and appealing, while allowing the focus to remain on the food. This concept is deeply rooted in the principles of mindful eating, and it seems to be catching on. No small accomplishment given the inundation of “happy meals” filled with eye-catching toys and sugar cereal boxes lined with distracting cartoons and puzzles.

If you can make the time to pack your own child’s lunch this week, notice the colors, shapes, and textures of the food you are sending them off with. Better yet, let your child join in and allow them to make some choices on how they want it to look to reinforce their creativity. In school cafeterias filled with flashy packages, this will not only make them satisfied with what’s in their lunchbox, but will help them to enjoy their food more.

Do you have any tips that are getting your children wanting to eat healthier food? If so, please share below!

Photo Credit: The Boston Globe