Q & A with Dr. Ludwig
Q: A few children in my kindergarten class come to school each day with lunchboxes filled with what I consider to be junk food-potato chips, cheese curls, candy, and so on. I'm trying to teach them about good nutrition, but it's hard when they bring these kinds of foods to school. How can I help them build healthy eating habits?
A: Clearly, early childhood is the ideal time to lay the foundation of a healthful lifestyle, including good nutrition and physical activity. Unfortunately, there are many forces that undermine this goal: incessant junk-food advertisements aimed at young children, busy parents who lack the time to prepare nutritious meals, and school districts that offer fast food in the cafeteria and soft drinks in vending machines. What can one teacher do?
- Hold a health and nutrition day at school. Encourage your school to provide healthy snacks, ideally fresh fruit and veggies, rather than refined and packaged products.
- Raise parents' awareness of the issue through the PTO or during parent-teacher meetings.
Although the challenges can seem daunting, profound change can be produced one teacher-and one parent and one student-at a time.
WHAT IS A CALORIE?
A calorie is a unit of measurement that tells us how much energy our bodies will get from the different foods and beverages we eat or drink. Four-year-old Adam says, "When you eat food, it gives you energy so you can fly like Superman!"
- Let children enjoy counting how many jumps it takes to get from one end of the play yard to the other. (Be sure the area is clear to avoid accidents.) Record the results on chart paper. For a twist, ask children to measure the length of the classroom by counting the number of hops it takes to move across it. Compare the results to the number of skips or leaps it takes.
- Encourage children to experiment with movement. Invite children to demonstrate different movements as you call them out, such as hopping like a bunny or crawling like a snake. Later, give children the opportunity to pair up and teach their partner a new movement of their own invention!
SNACKS THAT COMBINE PROTEIN AND FAT WITH A VEGETABLE OR FRUIT ARE IDEAL, AS THE COMBINATION WILL FILL KIDS UP FOR A LONGER PERIOD OF TIME THAN ANY ONE ITEM WOULD ALONE. TRY PEANUT BUTTER WITH CELERY OR LOW-FAT CHEESE WITH APPLE SLICES.
Children used to drink three servings of milk for every serving of soda. Now those numbers are reversed.
We Recommend. . .
- www.kidshealth.org for kid-friendly, healthful snacks. You'll find fun favorites for everyone, like Ants on a Log and Awesome Applesauce, and recipes tailor-made for children with diabetes, lactose intolerance, cystic fibrosis, and other special needs.
- http://nal.usda.gov/fnic/pubs/bibs/edu/98-child.htm : Health and nutrition information and activity resources for early childhood professionals.