Eat Smart, Play Hard
The emphasis of this day was gathering the facts and building the picture for the reasons for eating smart and playing hard! A basic assumption is that more of us are at risk for overweight and obesity. Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, LDN set the tone for the first day with The Nutrition Rx for Obesity: QUESTIONS and SOLUTIONS. As you will see when you review this link, the issue is to get diet out of the equation and aim for a healthy lifestyle. Bonci noted that making carbohydrates the bad guys or using food as a reward is examples of negatives. To bring children, in fact all of us, into a healthy lifestyle mode, there should be emphasis on the positives, on total diet and on lifestyle. Echoing the message of several speakers, Bonci noted that children are not learning how to plan balanced meals, may not be learning to participate in buying and preparing food. The meals they are eating are likely to be “lazy eating”, foods that require less chewing, less prep time, less energy. At the same time food choices are likely to more fats and sweets and be higher in sodium, all factors in traditional convenience, snack and fast foods. Since attitudes about food and eating are learned and reinforced at home as well as school, the message of teaching children to eat smart is linked to both home and school.
Add to this the passive lifestyles we lead with more computer and TV time and less exercise and activity and the risk of overweight and obesity is even more threatening.
As some solutions, Bonci suggested involving home, school and community. In all settings it is important that adults be a positive role model and that the focus be on the whole food, not just one component. A balance of protein, fat and carbohydrate is important. Some of the suggestions for eating smart include:
· Serve kid-friendly portions
· Let children lean when they are hungry and when they are satisfied…no must eat or clean plate rules.
· Slow down when eating and have designated “no-eating” zones.
· Enjoy family meals at regular times!
· Enjoy family activities that burn calories.
· Involve children in choosing and preparing foods.
· Limit hours of vending machine availability
· Aim for nutritious choices for meals, snacks, vending, and school events.
· Incorporate fitness into class time
· Provide adequate time for kids to eat and to play.
· Plan “hands-on” activities to introduce new foods, tasting, food preparation skills
· Make physical education lifetime sports education.
Bane McCracken’s keynote “What You Should Have Learned In Physical Education (But Were too Busy Dodging Balls to Ask” took the concept of lifetime sports to another level. According to McCracken, “You don’t stop playing because you get old; you get old because you stop playing.” His goal is to “play like a 12 year old for the rest of your life”.
Noting that “exercise is physical activity for the expressed purpose of raising heart rate” this presentation set the stage for learning more about target heart rates, warm-ups and fun. Physical education in schools has new standards and includes a variety of program meant to be carried on outside of physical education class:
The issues were summarized at the end of the day by facilitator Judy Dodd, MS, RD, and LDN. Included was data from the Centers for Disease Control that notes that in West Virginia about 64% of adults are at risk for overweight or obesity (using BMI as the determinant). At least 26% of children between the ages of 2 and 5 and from low income families are overweight or at risk for overweight. You may view Effective Exercise online or download the PowerPoint presentation.
What is the goal? To Make a Difference! Educate, empower, enable and excite our youth to eat smart and play hard.