Sunday, March 24, 2013

Making Healthy Choices

This week Felix was initiated into the confusing and contradictory world of making healthy food choices. It seems like every other year a 'bad' food is declared good or vice versa, so we kept our activity very simple and in line with the views of our family.

I think Felix has been going through a growth spurt lately because every ten minutes he's been complaining that he's hungry or saying that he wants something to eat. And when this happens right after a meal, it drives me a little bit crazy! So I set up this little activity so he can start to learn about making good nutritional choices, because at the moment I don't think he has a clue.

I gathered together some catalogues from grocery stores that we had in the house, and cut out pictures of various food items. I tried to limit it to food he's familiar with and would recognize, so I didn't include any pictures of meat: for some reason, all pictures of meat in catalogues are raw.

I got two pieces of cardstock; one green, one red. On the green card I wrote 'Healthy Choices' in the middle, and at the bottom there was the caption: 'These foods help us grow big and strong'. On the red card I wrote 'Treats' and the caption: 'These are foods to only have sometimes'.

Felix and I sat down with the cards and the pictures of food and we talked about each one and decided where it should go. He glued each one to the appropriate category. Then I stuck the finished cards on the pantry door for future reference! The 'healthy food' card is at Felix's eye level. I want it to be a reminder of all the things he could choose from, rather than constantly seeing things he shouldn't have. The 'treats' card is closer to my eye level; sometimes grown-ups need reminding too!

When Victor is old enough I will be doing a similar activity with him too, but his will be a little bit different. It's easy to adjust to various nutritional needs: just choose the foods that are healthiest for the child and put them in the 'healthy choices' category. This activity could be expanded as well. It could be turned into a complete 'food pyramid' or in the case of CF, the 'food rectangle'! You could create more categories and explore the nutrients present in each food and what those nutrients actually do for the body. You could choose a different focus and separate sugary foods from low-sugar choices and discuss what the effect is on dental health.

Now when Felix asks for a snack or says he's hungry, I point out our charts and he does actually take that into consideration. Because he made them himself he likes having them displayed in the kitchen and likes talking about it. As for my kitchen, well, it already looks like a playground wonderland in here so a little bit more child-centric decoration fits right in!

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