• I recently saw an 8-year-old guzzling a 2 liter bottle of bright red punch.
  • In school my daughter made a “basket” of chocolate covered wafers, glued together with chocolate spread. She ate so much of it that she barfed.
  • That same daughter had a frosted doughnut, a frosted cookie, candy and an edible fruit roll-up cookie flower for a special event at school. In one day.
  • And it seems that every few Shabbasim, we encounter a candy table where kids have free rein to collect as much as they can stuff in their bags, pockets and mouths.

But what really put me over the top was the lollies as big as your face and giant jaw breakers that a few girls brought to our ACHDUS Runners club recently. It’s running club, people!

In the words of a book I’m reading by farmer Joel Salatin, “Folks, this ain’t normal.”

P1020418But rather than sit around and complain, I’ve got a plan. We’re introducing Healthy Choices for Healthy Kids in our running club. My goal is to help the girls distinguish what is healthy and what is junk because it’s not always so clear. And then, once they know more about what they’re eating, I want them to think first.

I’m using a version of a traffic light model that I’ve seen online and in healthy eating books.

  • Green light foods are Go Foods: foods kids can eat anytime because they make them stronger and healthier
  • Yellow light foods are Slow Down Foods: foods that fill kids up without being too nutritious but also without being too harmful. These are foods that kids should only eat a little–like pretzels.
  • Red light foods are Stop Foods: foods that kids should stop and think, “Should I really eat this?” While many would advocate for eating no “red foods,” in my neighborhood where kids are accustomed to eating candy every day, I’m hoping to just get kids to stop and reconsider before eating these foods.

Each week’s lesson is no more than 10 minutes long and includes a creative game and an optional assignment–like passing up a yellow food for a green one or trying something new this week. Girls who report back on their success are receiving a raffle ticket for an end-of-season raffle.

Wish us luck!

9 thoughts on “Healthy choices for healthy kids

  1. Maybe the teachers and other parents in your children’s lives should be on the traffic light system. I’m am totally amazed at how much sugar and high fat foods are used to “please the kids.” Glad you are providing some intervention. Hope it goes Up the food chain to those who supply the treats. Thanks for your energy to intervene—Barb

  2. I love this!!
    I am trying to make my 7 yr old understand choices we make. Maybe if I make a huge poster WITH her then she will like it better

  3. Great way to communicate the idea to kids and adults alike! I, too, am horrified by the amount of candy and junk that is consumed on a regular basis.

  4. As always you know that I am on your side and any help you need at school I am there for you. I would willing to help start a garden at school if you think this might help too.
    Thanks for being part of the solution

  5. You may be a good person for me to speak with…I am working on re-vamping my kids’ preschool snack program…as it is chock full of enriched flour, added sugar, food dye, etc….and yes of course every Yom Tov celebration and other party is swimming in similar type foods. My vote is for fresh produce only with a ban on all other foods (when the school provides to the children). Have you worked with schools on trying to make this happen, in terms of budget restrictions and getting help for food prep (as teachers and parents are all very busy)? I am accepting any input here… Thanks! 🙂

    1. You’re best bet is probably a wellness committee, which you might already have there. Once that’s in place, you’ll have a lot more parent support. Our school isn’t ready for anything too drastic like bans on certain foods, so all I have been able to do is to make polite suggestions. I would recommend coming up with a big list of healthy snack ideas and other fun/cheap treats that aren’t food. Lots of dollar store toy items turn out to be less than a cupcake for every kid at a birthday anyway. Pinterest also has good ideas of creative, easy food snack ideas so that the fun is in making it and not just eating junk. Good luck!

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