Michigan, where I practice, is the poster child for the economic challenges currently facing our country. Our state also ranks eighth in the listing of fattest U.S. states, according to US Centers for Disease Control. Combine these two factors and it’s clear that there’s an opportunity to educate children about sound nutrition before the onset of costly medical problems spurred by obesity. Let’s roll up our sleeves and help in the fight. Here’s how…..
At each prophy appointment we can take kids one step closer to understanding the science of nutritional health. Check out the Children’s Science Hands-On Learning Lab ™. Several of the experiments are nutrition-related, focusing on food quality and quantity. Measuring the sugar locked in their favorite beverages and breakfast cereals is just the beginning. Portion sizes, quality fats and fast-food analysis are critical too. Again hands-on experiments create indelible lessons that kids will carry home to educate their parents. Circumventing parents in the initial learning provides many advantages, especially for the adolescent seeking ways to gain independence and respect. Many children are more adaptable to change than their parents and less likely to be stuck in a routine.
Addressing obesity can be easy with the right mindset and effective tools. Children don’t want to be lethargic or fat, and they may tell you that directly. Using non-judgmental, open-ended questions, we invite children to tell us about their current eating habits and what they’ve noticed (positive or negative) as a result of the foods they choose. Hearing from children about their own desires to be strong and healthy and avoid getting fat—before we offer any teaching—gets them in the right frame of mind. Listening generously will ready a child to make significant personal substitutions, one food choice at a time. We use the On Target Living ™ food target, which displays a range of poor- to excellent-quality foods in each sector (carbohydrate, fat and protein). Any child who can read is able to engage in this exploration. I get a personal charge from hearing a child ask a parent to switch from hydrogenated peanut butter to natural peanut butter!