Children having picnic and eating strawberries in garden

Every day, there are a multitude of things that influence our eating choices. Too often, those influences trend toward over-consuming added sugars and unhealthy fats. The July 5th WOWS Newsletter activity guides kids in thinking about the influence of the healthy habits we value and practice, and how friends and the media can make a difference in the choices we make. By itself, just the availability of sugary and higher fat foods in so many settings (fast foods and at concession stands, parties and celebrations…list goes on) is an influence.

Among the influencers are television commercials and other media ads. Think of the really yummy-looking posters of foods you see in fast food restaurants. They are designed to make us want to choose them. It is helpful to recognize the impact these influences can have on you. Those influences become a problem when we bend to temptation and frequently over-consume. If we value and practice healthy habits such as having smaller, less frequent amounts of sugary and higher fat foods as a way to looking and feeling our best, it is easier to recognize the temptation and make choices to resist over-consuming.

As in the example above, recognizing influencers is a step toward healthy balance. It is also helpful to have a basic understanding of the results of the choices we make. An example is recognizing how much sugar is too much. There are two slightly different guidelines they we often see; one is from the American Heart Association (AHA) and the other is defined in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). Because the AHA recommendation is based on maximum amounts and the 2015 DGA recommendation depends on a percentage of daily calories, it can seem a little confusing. However, so many Americans are consuming much greater amounts than either of the recommendations, so using either guideline can help us curb our intake of sugar.

Do the “why’s (influencers) of eating choices” make a difference in your balance? You decide!

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This week’s WOWS Newsletter guides educators or parents through an easy-to-prepare recipe. The recipe and suggested activities make a very good addition to this summer’s Healthy Me Journal.

In the newsletter, the learning exercise following the recipe points to a link in the ChooseMyPlate.gov website to help kids gain some understanding of recommended food group amounts. As ChooseMyPlate states, the key to healthy eating is choosing a variety of foods and beverages from each food group.

Visuals are helpful for learning. The MyPlate image is one visual that guides healthy choices. Everyday objects can also help kids visualize portion sizes. Collect and talk about the following items:

1 cup = a baseball                                                      3 oz. muffin or biscuit = a hockey puck

½ cup = a cupcake wrapper full                             3 oz. meat or chicken = a deck of cards

1 oz. (2 Tbsp) = a golf ball                                        2 Tbsp. peanut butter = a ping pong ball

girl on grass

With planning, activities and support for healthy eating and physical activity habits can easily be included in summer school, youth programs or at home. One helpful planning tool is discussed in Week 1 of the May WOWS Newsletter. It is a checklist of content for kids to create a journal, with resources that can help motivate success.

Motivating kids, removing the roadblocks to set them up for success and helping to build skills for healthier choices doesn’t have to take a lot of resources or require a lot of time. It does, however, take care and persistence.

Join us this month in helping kids to Eat – Move – Enjoy.

  • Enjoy healthful, tasty and appealing eating choices.
  • Enjoy moving more.
  • Enjoy healthy balance.

April Digging

April 10, 2017

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April is National Garden Month. Don’t miss the April 12th WOWS Newsletter, in which we share a lesson about cucurbits! At home, school, or during a summer program, gardening is a great way to get kids interested in and learn more about fruits and vegetables. Through gardening, you can apply nutrition lessons and apply math, science, writing and other concepts.

Consider growing a “theme” garden such as:

  • A “pizza” garden with green pepper, onion, tomato, basil and oregano.
  • A “salad” garden with tomato, cucumber, lettuce and carrots.
  • A “salsa” garden with tomato, cilantro, garlic and peppers.
  • A “snack” garden with broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini and cucumbers.

If it isn’t feasible to grow vegetables (and we hope you can at least grow several in a container), visit a farmer’s market and gather vegetables to fit your theme!

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Have you heard that April is designated School Library Month by the American Association of School Librarians? It is a time to recognize and celebrate all the ways school librarians can transform learning and, yes, even encourage healthful food and physical activity choices. At school or at home, reading to or with younger children can increase self-esteem, communication and listening skills, positive attitudes, a joy of reading and more. Learn more by checking out the April 5th issue of our WOWS Newsletter.

Grab chances to read books that open discussion about healthful food and physical activity choices. Think about the everyday ways, and perhaps a few unusual ways, you can do that. Start with the following thought to get your creative ideas flowing:

For a school or home birthday celebration: Instead of sugar overloaded “treats,” treat kids to a book reading during which they can act out the characters’ movements. Serve a fruit rainbow in a cup or plain ice cream cone. Top the rainbow with a spoonful of low fat pudding or yogurt.

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