My passion behind teaching cooking class really begins with how it has amazed me to see preschoolers “talking food” to me over the past 11 years. My tiny students and my own children never cease to surprise me with the knowledge they can acquire at such a young age. Seeing them respond in such positive ways to eating healthy foods, has really taught me just how important it is for them to learn the “language behind food.”
What is the language behind food?
The language behind food is just that. It’s any word you as an adult would use or know about food. It refers to colors, tastes and textures of food. Is something spicy? Is it mushy? It also refers to the words describing a foods nutritional value. In cooking class, I like to use the expression that every food has a job. Some foods are providing you with calcium and helping your bones. Other foods have a lot of protein, helping to keep you full and build your muscles. As you use these words to describe your meals to your child you are providing them with the perfect knowledge to grow into healthy adults. And you are for sure to be surprised about how the right food language can encourage them to eat something you never imagine they would. Helpful hint: Superheroes eat super foods and protein gives you strong muscles. Kids love these ones!!
For the past month in the preschool cooking class I teach, we have been discussing the 5 senses and about how we can use them to help us choose a variety of foods. This has really encouraged kids to talk about their food using descriptive words. This month, we are taking these descriptive words a bit farther while discussing why some foods are healthier for our bodies than others. The USDA has adapted a program called, “Go, Slow, Whoa”. It groups foods into these categories to teach children to establish what foods to choose to keep their bodies healthy. These words make for an easy to follow method to teach your children not only about making healthy eating choices, but it also, stresses the importance of portion control.
“Go, Slow, Whoa”, are great words to add to your meal-time vocabulary. Here’s the lowdown on what they all mean:
GO: These are foods that should be eaten often. Examples would be fruits, vegetables, dairy and whole grains. They should be low in fat, added sugar and calories.
SLOW: These foods should be eaten sometimes. Examples are 100% fruit juice and baked chips. Slow foods contain more fat, sugars and calories than Go Foods.
WHOA: These are foods that should be eaten sparingly. I like to use the words, “Special treat.” Examples would be cookies, cake, french fries. Basically junk food! These foods contain more fat and sugar than the previous 2 categories. One of the ideas I like to reinforce to the kiddos in my class AND to the grown ups seeking nutritional counseling from me: is that treats are totally ok sometimes! Just with the awareness that they are special treats and reserved for special occasions. If you had them all the time, they wouldn’t be a treat!!
Another way to keep kids interested in eating healthy foods is to include them in the food preparation process. Today we made Protein Packed Celery! This was a super easy snack that opened up a great discussion about all the Go foods that they were using.
Check it out!
PROTEIN PACKED CELERY
SMALL STRIP OF TURKEY
LET YOUR CHILD USE A PLASTIC KNIFE TO SPREAD CREAMED CHEESE ON CELERY. THEN ADD TURKEY STRIP TO TOP OF CELERY.
That’s it and you have a super easy snack your little one call help you prepare.
As parents we have the amazing opportunity to be great examples to our children. Providing them with information about healthy eating choices not only helps them feel like they are a part of mealtimes, but will ultimately help them become healthy adults!