Who Knew Eating Veggies Could Be So Fun?Wed 02 Nov 2011
Story by Jennifer Tyler Lee
A mom challenged by trying to get her kids to eat healthy meals decided to take matters into her own hands. She created a game called Crunch a Color™ that went from kitchen table to nationwide stores in three months. Now she’s giving profits back to support kids nutrition, including the Food Revolution. Who knew eating veggies could be so fun and rewarding?
Like 99% of parents, I struggled to get my kids to eat their veggies. When my daughter was 2 she tried every new food I offered. I was a beaming mom. By the time she was 5 her plate was white – void of vegetables. Not beaming anymore. How could it be that she loved broccoli one week, and hated it the next? Desperate for a solution, I turned to the one thing I knew how to do, make it fun.
I didn’t set out to create a product. I simply needed my kids to eat healthy, balanced meals without having to scream “Eat your veggies!” It started with index cards by color. Grandpa suggested, “How about points!” My husband piped in, “More points for kale than kiwi!” My son exclaimed, “Mommy, can I earn bonus points for trying something new?” The prize? Something fun, active, healthy – like a bike ride to the park. The game evolved organically around our dinner table.
“My kids need this!” was a comment often heard from friends. After much prodding, I made copies of my hand drawn cards and shared the game with families in my neighborhood. The response was overwhelming. Every single family had rave reviews, from the pickiest eaters venturing to try blueberries and broccoli to kids asking for fruit instead of sugary desserts so they could “earn more points.” I took the game to teachers, nutritionists, and doctors to make sure I had a system that really worked. They all loved it too.
That was this past summer.
Fast forward a few months and what was cards at our family table is available nationwide and the winner of the Dr. Toy and Parent Tested, Parent Approved awards for one of the best children’s products of 2011.
Why? How could an idea as simple as a card game make such a big difference for families? For each child, each family, the reason is unique – some kids like collecting the veggie friends, others love racking up points, some love the “system” - but at its core the game works because it makes mealtime fun and it empowers kids to make healthy choices for themselves.
In a playful way, kids are rewarded for eating a balanced meal and trying new foods while learning about meal composition, portion control, and table manners. The game also encourages families to cook, share and enjoy healthy foods together – an important part of how we’ll win the fight against childhood obesity. Studies have shown that children who eat with their families five times a week (along with good sleep habits and limited TV watching) are 40% less likely to be obese.
I am honored that something grown from our family table is able to help others. A portion of profits support non-profit children’s nutrition programs, including Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.
About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children, ages 5 and 7 and creator of Crunch a Color™. Watch her interview on ABC and find more colorful tips and recipes here.
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