Mt. Vernon Register-News

November 22, 2013

Bluford students learn about nutrition


BLUFORD —  — It was a Mission Nutrition on Thursday at Bluford Pre-Kindergarten as the District 80 Pre-K County Parent Advocates taught children and parents basics of nutrition.

"The goal of our group is to get kids and parents together to re-inforce parenting skills," said April Rubenacker. "We have lots of great parents out there, but the programs help them be more informed."

Thursday's program was the first held in the classroom, with previous programs held as field trip events. Jenny Hicks presented the program, with age appropriate information for children and information for adults about healthy eating and tips for shopping.

"Children mimic what we do," Hicks said. "We as parents want to make healthy decisions about what we eat and our children will make good decisions too. ... Every day, make a point of choosing a healthy snack over an un-healthy snack."

Hicks said making healthy decisions when shopping for food isn't always easy for parents of young children, as they are distracted by their children.

"Start shopping on the perimeter of the store," Hicks advised. "That's where many health foods are found such as fresh fruits and vegetables and meats. ... In the aisles, look high and low on shelves. Food companies pay premium for the middle parts of shelves where the hands automatically go to pick something up. Sometimes the best deals are on the higher parts of the shelf and on the low parts of the shelf where you have to bend down."

Hicks said other advice for helping with the family budget may be buying in bulk and choosing seasonal fruits and vegetables.

"Reading labels is important," Hicks said, adding sugars for prepared foods such as cereal should be at a 3 or 4 and always choose good fat content over bad fat content.

"Portion sizes are another way to eat healthy," Hicks added. "Smaller plates can trick your mind into thinking you have more food. ... We should teach our kids to eat slowly and enjoy your food."

Hicks also recommends taking one night a week to sit around the family dinner table.

"Studies show families that do that are closer," she said. "It's not possible to do that every night for many families who are running in many directions. But one night a week, shut off the TV and sit down together for a meal."

The children enjoyed hearing the story, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" and making a butterfly snack sack using a clothespin, a pipe cleaner and a zipper plastic bag.