Healthy Eating and a Successful Lifestyle


Sarah Jannings

UNITED STATES- Childhood obesity is a serious problem across the United States putting children at risk for poor health. Many children go about their day eating unhealthy and sugar-filled snack options or meals that do not give them the energy they need to complete their schoolwork or participate in after-school activities. 

It’s something that most of us are guilty of. It’s so easy to choose the delicious brownie or cookie at a school lunch over a nice yogurt or salad.

Poor eating habits can not only lead to health and energy complications, but also mood swings, lack of motivation, and tiredness. We all experience a lack of energy and dedication to our school work at times, but did you ever think it is partly due to what you eat?

The promotion and implementation of healthier food and fresh produce options into children’s lives will not only help make their days more successful, but also assist in making the world a more productive place to live.


Childhood Obesity Factors and Statistics

In the United States, even in our hometown of Southwest Michigan, the percentage of children and adolescents affected by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s. Obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has only continued to grow and to this day it has reached drastically high numbers.

According to data cited from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention,


  • The prevalence of obesity was 18.5% and affected about 13.7 million children and adolescents.

  • Obesity prevalence was 13.9% among 2- to 5-year-olds, 18.4% among 6- to 11-year-olds, and 20.6% among 12- to 19-year-olds. Childhood obesity is also more common among certain populations.

  • Hispanics (25.8%) and non-Hispanic blacks (22.0%) had higher obesity prevalence than non-Hispanic whites (14.1%).

  • Non-Hispanic Asians (11.0%) had lower obesity prevalence than non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics.

Many factors contribute to childhood obesity, including

  • Genetics.

  • Metabolism—how your body changes food and oxygen into energy it can use.

  • Eating and physical activity behaviors.

  • Community and neighborhood design and safety.

  • Short sleep duration.

  • Negative childhood events.

Genetic factors cannot be changed, however, the type of environment children grow up in and the food options they are served can be.

At LMC, the school does an excellent job on a daily basis of providing protein-filled options and a salad bar. However, for most students, it is so much easier to buy five cheap cookies compared to the price of one entry.

 According to the CDC, “Schools can adopt policies and practices that help young people eat more fruits and vegetables, eat fewer foods and beverages that are high in added sugars or solid fats, and increase daily minutes of physical activity.”

LMC is currently in the works of eliminating the majority of unhealthy sugar-filled options in replacement with fresh fruits and vegetables grown on local surrounding farms. Small changes like this can have a huge impact on children’s lives and the community they live in.

Actions like this can also contribute towards the curve of lowering childhood obesity statistics each year and an increase in students daily performance in the classroom and on the athletic field.

Devastating Effects of Unhealthy Eating

According to SA Health, “Poor eating habits include under- or over-eating, not having enough of the healthy foods we need each day, or consuming too many types of food and drink, which are low in fibre or high in fat, salt and/or sugar. These unhealthy eating habits can affect our nutrient intake, including energy, protein, carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals as well as fibre and fluid.”

Senior, Emily Lage, has personally experienced the effects of something as simple as choosing a cookie over an apple as she stated, “I’m always tired if I don’t eat something healthy and even if I think the cookie is the right choice at the moment, my stomach always proves me wrong an hour later.”

Poor nutrition can impair children’s daily health and wellbeing and reduce their ability to lead an enjoyable and active life. In the short term, poor nutrition can contribute to stress, tiredness, and a student’s capacity to work throughout their school day and extracurricular activities.

According to SA Health, over time, it can contribute to the risk of developing some illnesses and other health problems such as:

  • Being overweight or obese

  • Tooth decay

  • High blood pressure

  • High cholesterol

  • Heart disease and stroke

  • Type-2 diabetes

  • Osteoporosis

  • Some cancers

  • Depression

  • Eating disorders.

What is Healthy Eating?

More than ever due to the Coronavirus pandemic, healthy eating isn’t about strict limitations and cutting out foods – it’s about eating a wide variety of foods in the right amounts to give your body what it needs. As we are stuck at home during this period of social distancing, I know the temptation of opening a bag of chips to munch on all day long rather than choosing the carrots and grapes in the fridge.

It’s important now more than ever to make sure we are intaking the proper nutritions to give our body the energy it needs to perform our online schoolwork or do work from home. However, it is easier said than done, so how exactly do we know what and how much to eat?

Sophomore, Connor Shooks, gives some advice on how to maintain a healthy diet during this time of social distancing as he stated, “I balance a healthy diet and lifestyle in quarantine by continuing my healthy food choices and meal plan with a salad and low carb options. I also keep my healthy lifestyle by running two to three miles every day and doing a series of guided workouts/”

According to HelpGuide, “There are no single foods you must eat or menus you need to follow to eat healthily. You just need to make sure you get the right balance of different foods. Healthy eating for children and young people should always include a range of interesting and tasty food that can make up a healthy, varied and balanced diet, rather than denying certain foods and drinks. Although all foods can be included in a healthy diet, this will not be true for people on special/medical diets.”

Having a wide range of food options is definitely something that I know I need in my life. I can eat celery for like a whole month and then want nothing to do with it for the next month. As a teenager, I know my interests and tastes in foods are always changing, so keeping my diet interesting is definitely important.

While some specific foods or nutrients have been shown to have a beneficial effect on mood, it’s the overall dietary pattern that is most important. The cornerstone of a healthy diet should be to replace processed food with real options of fresh produce, whole food grains, and dairy products whenever possible.

Just remember, and it’s something I always have to remind myself, it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Eating food that makes you feel great, have more energy, improves your health, and boosts your mood is the ultimate goal of fresh food intake.


The Importance of Healthy Eating and its Widespread Benefits

With healthy eating comes widespread benefits. Personally, I know when I eat proper healthy foods, I sleep better and have more energy and better concentration.

Healthy eating should be an enjoyable experience. When you eat and drink well, you get all the essential nutrients you need for proper growth and development in order to live a happy and healthy lifestyle! As a current high school student, I know how important it is to have a positive and successful life now because that is only going to transfer into an extraordinary future. Naturally, the purpose of this piece is to stress the importance of healthy eating, but what actually happens when you eat healthy?


According to Food In Care, active children and young people whose eating is well-balanced tend to:

  • have a healthy body weight

  • feel good about themselves

  • have plenty of energy to be active

  • have stronger muscles and bones

  • enjoy better physical and mental health

Positive outcomes come from the original right choice to intake healthy foods, but what happens when you choose carb or sugar filled options over some fruits and vegetables? Children and young people who are hungry or poorly nourished (e.g. consume higher intakes of food and drink high in calories, fat, sugar and/or salt often termed ‘junk food’ such as chips, sweets and soft drinks) may:

  • be irritable, moody or aggressive

  • be unable to concentrate and focus on tasks

  • have less energy for daily activities

  • be uninterested in learning situations and do less well at school

  • be at higher risk of developing conditions such as dental health problems, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, some types of cancer,  depression, becoming overweight and obese

Sophomore, Connor Shooks stresses the importance of healthy eating as he stated, “I feel that eating healthy is extremely important. I eat gluten free and organic foods along with lots of water because if you want the most performance academically and athletically you must provide your body with the correct and helpful food and choices. In order to see results with your mind and body, you must feed it what will help do its job best.”

Shooks is completely right as in order to keep your body and mind in a position to succeed, eating healthy foods with a variety of food options is definitely the place to begin.

Building of Healthy Eating Habits

According to data collected from, in order to build healthy eating habits one must:

  • Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark green, red, and orange vegetables (3 or more servings a day).

  • Eat a variety of fruits (2 or more servings a day).

  • Eat whole-grain, high-fiber breads and cereals (3 to 6 servings a day). Reduce or eliminate refined or processed carbohydrates; most of the grains in your diet should be whole grains.

  • Drink fat-free or low-fat milk and eat low-fat dairy products.

  • Choose from a variety of low-fat sources of protein — including eggs, beans, poultry without skin, seafood, lean meats, unsalted nuts, seeds, and soy products. If you eat meat, eat white meat at least four times more often than red meat.

  • Reduce intake of saturated fats and trans-fats (such as partially hydrogenated oil) as much as possible.

  • Use vegetable oils (like olive or canola oil) instead of solid fats.

  • Reduce daily intake of salt or sodium. Reduce to less than 1,500 mg. per day if you are older than 50, or have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.

  • Restrict or eliminate “junk food” — foods that contain refined white flour, solid fats or trans fats, added sugars, and are high in sodium.

  • Restrict or eliminate sodas and other sugar-added drinks that are high in calories and contain few or no nutrients.

  • If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation. Drink only when it doesn’t put you or anyone else at risk.


Lage gives others some advice if they may be struggling with healthy eating during this quarantine as she stated, “I think it is very important to eat healthy and stay active. I’ve noticed though it is much harder when you can’t go anywhere during the day. Eating healthy always puts me in a better mood and makes me more productive throughout the day.”


Promotion and Sale of Healthy Food Options

Naturally, healthy food options can be found for sale at grocery stores anywhere and usually for a reasonable price. However, there are other viable options if you’re looking where to get the best food to implement a healthy diet into your life.

In the case of Southwest Michigan, there are farms and farm markets in every town. As I come from a farming family myself, I can testify that farm fresh produce truly does taste different.

Farm markets such as Jollay Orchards and Piggott’s Farm Market (my family’s farm) are primarily open between the middle of May and the end of October all depending on when produce starts to come in season. In the example of my family’s farm, we grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables such as bell peppers, cantaloupe, cauliflower, cucumbers, jalapeno peppers, tart cherries, tomatoes, watermelon yellow squash, and zucchini.

All this produce is sold at our market during their respective season duration and shipped out to large scale companies such as Herons and Meijer across the United States and even in our local area. Produce that we do not personally grow is purchased from other local farms in our area, so we can offer a wide variety of produce to our potential customers.

Overall, there is a wide variety of produce grown right here alone in Southwest Michigan and if you’re looking to help reduce the strikingly high numbers of childhood obesity and improve your physical and mental health, what better time to start then now!


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