In the US, the diets of 15.9 million children under the age of 18 are shaped by high food prices, limited income and inadequate food support systems, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Reports are consistently revealing that young students are suffering from what is becoming known as “food insecurity,” citing lack of money, time and culinary knowledge as the primary reasons. The problem is, how do we motivate students towards eating more healthily, especially whilst living to a budget? In the same way as students learn valuable lessons about their finances, they should also be aware of the importance of eating a balanced diet.
Cutting Out Junk Food
Many students will usually choose food that is both cheap and convenient, which frequently means eating junk food. Despite students learning about a healthy diet from school and home, this doesn’t necessarily equate to choosing to do so on a day-to-day basis when they opt for a frozen pizza or takeaway fries as the menu of the day. Teaching them the effects from eating junk food and the value of eating fresh, seasonal food, is essential for helping them perform better in their studies and look after their health.
Effects of a Poor Diet
Most students will not realize the potentially major effects of an unhealthy diet on their physical and emotional well-being. Therefore, it’s vital that they’re taught that when their diets lack the basic fruit, vegetables and nutrients, it will result in limited energy and increased medical problems. This issues have led to behavioral problems such as aggression or mood swings and more commonly, obesity and other eating disorders which are all likely to contribute to poor academic performance due to lack of nutrition.
Learning to Spend Money Wisely
Encouraging students to eat healthy food on a budget is the biggest step to teaching them to plan meals and snacks in advance to help improve their diet. This can be done by knowing how to shop on a weekly basis, rather than last minute grocery shopping, and thinking ahead of what to eat as opposed to wondering about what to eat in the moment. These basic strategies can help to cut out temptations to stop off at the local burger joint. Additionally, signing up for discount cards, exercising, integrating cooking skills and looking out for seasonal produce can all help to increase their culinary, physical and financial knowledge.
Although students might not always want to spend their money on healthy food, more must be done to ensure they are informed about what they eat and how they can achieve a healthier diet.
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