Teaching Healthy Food Choices

Last week my daughter, Elizabeth, came home from school one day, read a list of ingredients on a snack and told her little brother it was good that it didn’t have any high fructose corn syrup! It certainly caught my attention, and it made sense when I found out that a community educator from Stoughton Hospital had been to school to teach the kids about healthy food choices.

This connection came about through a partnership with Stoughton Hospital, which committed to be a “Visionary” supporter (donating at least $1,000) of the NKE Arboretum. As part of our school’s relationship with Stoughton Hospital, educators promote the hospital’s mission of encouraging healthy living in their community.

According to Stoughton Hospital’s Autumn Kumlien, the goals of the education for our NKE students are:

1) Teach children how to make healthful food choices and detect marketing deceptions.

2) Give children the opportunity to practice what they have learned.

3) Empower children to share their “detective skills” with other family members.

Stoughton Hospital uses a program called Nutrition Detectives™, which is geared specifically at elementary school children. Developed by Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, with his wife, Catherine Katz, PhD., it shows the children five clues to use when making food choices. They are great clues for all of us to keep in mind, no matter how old we are! Those five clues are:

1) Don’t be fooled by the big letters on the front of the package. Look for the itty-bitty letters on the food label instead.

2) The first ingredient on the list is always the biggest.

3) Avoid partially hydrogenated oil and high fructose corn syrup. It’s like finding Waldo!

4) Avoid foods with a long ingredient list.

5) Fiber is your friend! Beware of whole-grain imposters. Choose breads, cereals, cereal bars, crackers and pasta with at least 2 grams of fiber.

 Thanks to Stoughton Hospital for supporting our school, our students and our initiatives for outdoor education!

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