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Monday, March 14, 2011

Reading airline magazines

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know that when I travel, I like to read magazines that I normally do not come across.

Last week, while flying home from the Houston Rodeo with my husband, Garry, he leaned over and said, “I think y’all might want to check out the in-flight magazine.” Enough said.

I opened up the March edition of Hemispheres Magazine to page 66 -71 and read the most fascinating story, entitled “The Meal Plan.”

For decades, school administrators have struggled and failed to improve student lunches. This (slightly mad) professor offers a different approach: tricking kids into eating well. It's Working.

You probably know that I am personally passionate about helping people get healthy through better eating (lots of fresh fruits and veggies, of course). So when I read this story about Cornell University professor, Brian Wansink, and his study of human behavior, I was fascinated!

You can read the entire article here, but this is the crux of his idea and the amazing results:

After he spent a week in a Plattsburgh, New York, school cafeteria, he made two SIMPLE suggestions to the school lunch manager to increase students’ consumption of fresh fruit.

1. He told her to place the fruit in attractive bowls by the cash register.

2. He recommended that she display signs urging kids to eat them.

Sounds too easy to be true, right?

Well, check out the results. The school lunch manager reported that two months after she implemented these two changes, her sales of fruit fresh had increased four-fold (to 1,000 pieces). She was stunned -- and also ran out of fruit, as she did not expect that kind of response.

But, what was amazing and encouraging to me, was that the school lunch manager started getting emails from parents saying that their kids were now raving about the fruit in the cafeteria! (BTW, this is exactly the kind of response we saw when the U.S. Senate tested the School Snacking program about 8 years ago in 100 schools across the nation.)

It’s kind of like what I do at home. If I have fresh fruit on the counter, or pre-cut veggies in my refrigerator, my family will chose them for mid-day snacking, instead of unhealthier choices. Instead of asking my daughter what vegetable she wants for dinner, I give her a choice: Do you want asparagus or baby broccoli?

I hope you take a moment to read this article as there are some great ideas and “a-ha’s” in it. Some of you don’t have kids at home, but have close friends who do. Feel free to pass this article along, even to the school lunch director at your local school.

It benefits all of us to teach healthy eating habits to everyone we come in contact with.

Good eating!
Karen

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