Guest Blogger Brooke Rains presents Part 4 of her "I am Moving, I am Learning" series!
So, our bodies were originally designed to:
- Be nourished by fruits and vegetables
- Be hydrated by water
These are the things that are best for our bodies. And as adults, we’ve strayed from our origins. For various reasons (or excuses maybe?) I don’t need to get into…I’m sure you can list them as easily as I can. But our children can become a different story. Their path can be aligned with our origins from the beginning, when they’re young, when healthy preferences are first being formed. What a concept! Get a healthy start instead of trying to undo bad habits later.
I Am Moving, I Am Learning (IMIL) is a strategy that helps parents and child care providers see the value of developing healthy preferences early in life, in regards to movement and nutrition. Let’s focus on the latter, the nutrition piece. According to IMIL, habits “track,” meaning they go with you as you grow up. If we can help young children develop a craving for foods that are best for their bodies, then according to this theory, they will take that with them as they grow and develop. Now that’s a pretty awesome opportunity, right? Right!
Ok, so how do we do that? Well, the IMIL way of doing things is to incorporate good nutrition messages into what you’re already doing with children. Let’s take an example from the child care world (which I used to live in) — a song that was often sung with children is about a visit to the bakery shop where donuts are plentiful and the children pick out their favorite sugary choice. So, equipped with IMIL, we could change that up to be a visit to the farmers market or a visit to the community garden to pick out a red, ripe tomato or dig up a fresh orange carrot. Believe it or not, this small change can be quite powerful! Songs like this (or books or conversations) become a part of young children. They really do absorb everything they see and hear, and if they are consistently hearing messages about yummy, beautiful fruits and veggies, it can have a significant impact in these formative years.
So, here are a couple of specific and intentional messages or “slogans” from IMIL that can help you make these small, yet powerful changes:
- “Crave Your FAV” — This is about helping children develop a craving for fruits and veggies (versus that other stuff). And there’s actually a song that goes along with this on www.choosykids.com (“This is My Body” CD).
- Model this craving, and then praise children when they crave their FAV
- Point out the beauty of fruits and veggies and talk about craving a certain color (greens, red strawberries, etc)
- Talk with children about letting nature nourish your family
- Plant a garden or visit one often; children are more likely to eat foods they grow and/or help prepare
- “Shop the Sides” — Where are the fruits and veggies (and dairy and fresh meats) at the grocery store? Along the sides! What’s in the middle? All the processed foods.
- Shop the sides of the store first, and take a little from the middle (hint: buy fruits and veggies that are in-season because they’re usually on sale)
- Let your kids “drive” the cart to the side of the store; let them decide what you’ll get from the sides!
- Use your “parent power” for good; children will (eventually) eat what you buy, so buy wisely
- Make it a game to buy all the colors — “I’m craving something that’s green and long and skinny…” and then have your kids guess what you’re craving (Hint: it’s a cucumber) Then let them lead the game!
Sound doable? Are you ready to align with our origins and seize this opportunity to help your kids have a nutritious start? Good! I’ll get you started — Here’s a link to a listing of Farmers Markets all over Michigan, including Lenawee County. Go visit one this weekend and help your family start craving their FAV!
Brooke Rains is Coordinator for Child Care Network in Lenawee, Jackson and Hillsdale Counties. Brooke is a wife, dog mom, beach lover, education graduate of Adrian College, and an Adrian resident. She is excited to blog for us about her role as a national trainer for I Am Moving, I Am Learning, a proactive program for addressing childhood obesity in preschool-age children.