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October 2015

Food Education
For Children & Their

Chelsea Saltzman
Suggested Health Messages to Promote for Preschooler
1. Healthy foods come from farms and the Earth
2. Eat fruits and vegetables with every meal
3. Eat a rainbow every day
4. Eat whole grains
5. Eat low-fat dairy products and calcium-rich foods
6. Drink water throughout the day, everyday
7. Be physically active everyday
- the Food Trust
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Time And health are two precious assets that we dont

recognize and appreciate until they have been depleted.

Denis Waitley
Important Facts to Consider
More than a third of children age 6-19 are overweight or obese.
1 in 3 children will develop Type 2 Diabetes in their lifetime.
60% of children did not meet their daily recommendations for fruit intake between 2007 and
2010. A whopping 93% didnt meet the recommendation for vegetables.
Of the added sugar consumed by children, 40% comes from beverages.
Children between the ages 8-18 consume, on average, twice the amount (3,400 mg) of
recommended sodium levels per day. This has a
positive association with high blood pressure.
Sugar does not cause hyperactivity. Artificial food
coloring does! This is particularly true in children
with ADHD.
Research says kids may have to try a new food 7
to 10 times before liking or accepting it (or finally
admitting that they like it!).

What Can Take From These Facts?

Find foods naturally colored and/or free of artificial dyes
Select Whole Grains
first ingredient should read whole
Fiber content should be about 2g per 100 kcal
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Cut out juice and sugar sweetened beverages

Be cautious of prepared and processed foods with high sodium levels
Incorporate fruits and veggies into snacks and meals
Dont give up! Keep trying.

Ok, ok, but easier said than done!

Tips for Success
1) Stay Calm! All forcing and begging does is put a negative,
unhappy stigma around new foods. Never force kids to eat or to
finish everything on their plate. Children need to learn their cues
for hunger and fullness (this is referred to as innate intake
regulation). Forcing completion of meals or foods can also lead
to overeating habits later in life or even eating disorders.
2) Meal/Snack timing - Hungrier kids are more receptive to new
foods. Keep a two hour window between snack and mealtime.
Put the new food down first, nonchalantly.
3) Make it Accessible - Fruits and vegetables should be easier to get to, such as in a bowl on the
table. Other foods should be out of sight.
4) Lead by Example - Sit down and eat yummy fruits and vegetables together!
5) No short order cooking - Only children with special allergies should be offered meal alternatives.
6) Helping Hands - Children who help to grow, buy, or prepare food are more likely to want to eat it
come meal time and are more receptive to new foods.
7) Variety is the spice of life - Have more than one fruit and/or vegetable available. Young children
are proud and excited to make their own choices. Spin this in your favor by narrowing their
choices to all healthy options. Would you like broccoli or peas for your vegetable today?
Another option is to decide as a class what meals to make for the weak. This can be tricky with
larger class sizes, so you could start with having one day per week where the children are able
to choose their meal or meal component.
8) Call in for Backup Invite older kids to help mentor younger ones by sitting with them and
eating or trying new fruits and vegetables. Even if they themselves do not like the food, taking
the new food on the plate with a big smile can encourage other children to do the same. Giving
bigger kids a responsibility like this also gives them an incentive to make healthy choices for
9) New and Old - Pair a known favorite with something new for better chances that children will at
least try the new food. It also makes sense that too much new stuff can be overwhelming, so its
a good idea to only introduce one new thing at a time.
10) Limit snacks - Snacks on average contribute up to 30% of most preschoolers daily caloric
intake - and that is way too much! Aim for lower calorie snacks. Small snacks that combine
nutrients (ex. protein + carbohydrate) will slow down digestion and help keep children fuller
longer. This makes a little go a long way!
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11) Food Plating - Offer smaller portions and keep food separated on the plate. This is especially
helpful for younger children. Its better for the palatability, acceptance, and even digestion. If
children eat it all, thats great! They can certainly ask for seconds.
12) No sippy cups! - Kids should only be drinking water anyway, so the eminent occasional spill
wont be too big of a deal. Plus, their dentist will surely thank you later!

Today, more than 95% of all chronic disease is caused by food

choice, toxic food ingredients, nutritional deficiencies and lack of
physical exercise

Mike Adams

Nuts & Bolts

- - - - - - - What exactly should we aim for?
Preschoolers calorie requirements
2-3 y/o = 1000 kcal/day
4-5 y/o = 1400 kcal/day
Fiber guidelines
5 grams + age
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Fruit intake for ages 2-5

1 to 1.5 cups per day
Vegetable intake
1 to 2 cups per day
Dairy intake for ages 2-5
2-3 cups per day
no more than 24 oz per day
Pay attention to iron and calcium for preschoolers

Preschoolers are the ideal age to learn about healthy habits.

Curious, high-energy and independent, preschoolers naturally love to

play with their food and move their bodies.

- The Food Trust, the Preschool Initiative

Learning Activities
- - - - - - - (1) Learning the Basics
You might be surprised how many children (and grownups for that matter) do not know
the difference between a vegetables and a fruit, let alone the difference between carbohydrates
and proteins. Of course we do not expect our kids to be miniature food scientists, but having a
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good basis for what food is, what it does, and how we should eat it helps stimulate healthy
eating habits that can last a lifetime.

The Goals of this Lesson:

1) Lay a foundation of knowledge for the 5 food groups.
2) Give a basic explanation of healthful tips within each food group.
3) Touch on macronutrients and micronutrients (protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and

Activities to follow:
1) Hand out food cards, each with one food from a food group
ex. Brown rice, carrots, yogurt, etc.
2) Designate spots in the room for each food group
3) Do a countdown and have the children scramble to find where their food goes
4) Once they are settled, have kids find a partner or group that would be a good food combination
(ex. Yogurt + blueberries).
5) This might also be a good time to try food sensory by sampling different types of fruit (such as
different varieties of apple) and conducting a class vote for which is best.
- An alternate/add-on to this exercise can be simply placing food items on opposite sides of a
board such as pizza, yogurt, a sandwich and pancakes on the left and blueberries, broccoli,
tomatoes, and bananas on the right. Ask kids to pair them up. Encourage any combination, no
matter how goofy! What about adding more than one thing?
- This is a great segue into the next goal!

- - - - - - - (2) Meal Prep and Planning

It is said that knowledge does not shape behavior. We know that this is true, because if it
werent then no one would smoke cigarettes or overeat unhealthy foods. Therefore, we should
instead focus on shaping beliefs and habits. This is why it is so important to start discussing
these issues sooner than later. Helping children to take their knowledge and mold it into tangible
life choices that THEY can have control of is empowering and motivating!

The Goals of this Lesson:

1) Discuss how our newly learned food knowledge applies to everyday life and meal planning.
What does healthy mean? What does unhealthy mean? What makes a meal or a snack
- Touch on subjects such as portion control and food labels
2) Encourage children to apply their knowledge to the world around them (i.e. when grocery
shopping with parents or going through the fridge)

Activities to follow:
1) Make a MyPlate
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This is such a simple and helpful tool for children! Give them free reign to design the plate as
they chose so long as it meets the food requirements. If you notice some unhealthy choices,
ask, How could we make this part a bit healthier?
Items can either be drawn or cut and pasted from magazines.
If ample magazines are available, an alternate activity is to make a Healthy Food Rainbow
2) Make smoothies
All this talk about food and we must eventually put our money where our mouth is! Show how
easily we can incorporate vegetables into our fruit smoothies. What is a source of protein or
dairy that we can add? How many food groups can we get into ONE smoothie? If resources are
limited, making pretend smoothies is fun too!
3) Shopping Aisle Photo Hunt
This is a coloring hand out of what children might expect to see in a typical grocery aisle. Ask
children to circle or brightly color in healthy choices or place them in their cart. Invite children
to share what items they bought at the grocery store and why.
4) Food Label scavenger hunt (this is more suitable for older preschoolers)
Encourage children to be familiar with where to locate calorie, fat, fiber, sugar, sodium, and
protein content. The point is not so much that they can efficiently interpret a food label, but that
they begin to understand the value of the information it provides us, and not to overlook it when
making food choices.
An alternative to this is to cut out food labels and put them in a box/hat. Allow children to either
chose at random or search through to find one they like. Ask children to circle calories in red,
underline sodium in blue, put a box around fiber in green, etc. Encourage some critical thinking
by asking children if they think this food label is a healthy option. Why or why not?
- - - - - - - (3) Whole Foods are from the Earth
There is a big movement today to know where our food comes from and what
ingredients make it up. This is great news for those of us who care about nutrition. However,
the easiest and most basic principal is that food that is good for us comes right from the Earth.
These are considered whole foods and have little to no processing. We know that the more
processed a food is, the less it is depleted of nutrients. Yet many children (and adults too) feel a
strong disconnect between the items they purchase at the grocery store and the journey that
food took to get there.

The Goals of this Lesson:

1) Discuss what whole foods are and why there are
2) Describe the journey of different foods from where
they begin to where they end up. The longer the
journey, the less healthy the food probably is!
3) Emphasize eating whole fruits and vegetables.

Activities to follow:
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Finally, when we have been sitting and/or talking simply WAY too much,
lets all get up to sing and dance and move our bodies!
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Sources and additional links:

books -
October 2015