My son is in fifth grade and almost daily I realize I am not always smarter than a fifth grader. A few days ago he came home with an assignment that I remember having as an assignment while pursuing my Masters degree. Yeah, I was pretty shocked too!!
He and his class have been learning about reading food labels and making better food choices overall. For this assignment, they chose a food they love and then modified it to make it more healthy….his words were, ‘ we have to “healthify” it.’ The only difference with my assignment and his, mine included tons of research and a thirty page paper with way too many graphs and pie charts; his was done as a fun, learning project with a tasty treat at the end (he brought home some very yummy doughnuts made with whole wheat flour).
Of course, the object of this is not to compare the level of work but to point out and reiterate that children learn so much more when learning is fun. These fifth graders are learning about things that I am now trying to teach adults. But, guess what? Making healthy food choices later in life will become so much easier. My son and his friends are learning that living a healthy balanced life is not about starvation, deprivation and eating bowls and bowls of salads. Instead, it is about having a variety of foods in moderation and focusing more on the good-for-you-foods.
He is a kid, so of course he sometimes asks for the foods that we think kids need to have…you know, foods like chips, fries and honey buns. They don’t need these foods, but we have taught them to like it. However, he also knows that these are treats or ‘sometime’ foods to be eaten in very small amounts and not to be used as a regular portion of his diet. I have always said that eating is a learned behavior, so it’s our responsibility as parents to teach our children how to choose foods that supports optimal growth and health, which will ultimately provide many health benefits later in their life. His class doesn’t know this, nor do they really care about their later life just yet but if they are given the tools from now, it will stay with them and become a part of who they are.
This is how we change the culture of poor eating one child at a time. I didn’t have it as a kid, so I’m trying to give it to my son.