Sunday, September 18, 2011

National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Did you know that September is National Childhood Awareness Month? I didn't realize that until Hormel sent me the information for completing my September post. But, shortly after receiving the information from them, I started noticing a lot of information both about Childhood Obesity and MyPlate.

This past weekend, there was even a full page spread on "The Mini Page" within the papers comic section about School Lunch. It shared about the history of School Lunch - surprisingly to me, it was back in the late 1700s and early 1800s that people started to be concerned about childhood nutrition. Of course, at that time, the concern was more around malnourishment than it was around obesity. Through some studies and tracking of heights, weights and learning, they learned that kids who ate a good meal in the middle of the day grew stronger and performed better in school.

They also shared about the Department of Agriculture's new MyPlate model, which replaces the food pyramid. The MyPlate model not only provides information on the type of foods that should be eaten, but also provides perspective on the ratio of food types. One example is that they recommend drinking water in place of sugary drinks and to limit the cookies, cakes, pastries and doughnut. They also recommend filling half of your plate with fruits and vegetables.

I know that for me, one of the things that I always had trouble with was gauging portion size. You can read in this post about I use a digital scale to help me measure the portion that I am consuming. It was really eye-opening when I first started to use it to see what a standard serving was - like a bowl of cereal - I quickly realized that I was eating more than one portion. I still sometimes eat two portions, but now I do it with the awareness of it being two portions. I feel like I have gotten pretty good at being able to look at my plate and have good perspective on what size the portion is. It really is amazing though how, even now that I feel like I know what a portion looks like, with time away from using the digital scale, what I perceive as a normal portion tends to get larger.

Another tool that can help you gauge portions (and perhaps more child friendly) are equivalency charts. There are two available on WebMD - one for your wallet and one for home - you could even post it on your refrigerator door! As an example, 3 oz of cooked chicken is about the size of a deck of cards.

Providing your children with the tools to make good food choices and eat the right portions can give them a foundation for a healthy, lifestyle as they grow older.

No compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are mine or those of my family. I am completing this post as a participant in the Hormel Foods Extended Family Blogger program. The links to the charts on WebMD on ones that I found on my own through a web search.