Nutrition Building Blocks is a component of I Am Moving, I Am Learning (IMIL), a Head Start initiative that helps educators add activities to their daily routine that increase quality physical movement and teach children about healthy food choices. Explore this online learning course to learn important nutrition messages and activities to help young children build a lifetime of healthy nutrition practices. Learn how healthy eating practices for young children support brain and body development and create a strong foundation for school success. Explore strategies to include healthy nutrition experiences in daily routines for children using music, books, and activities.
Log into the Individualized Professional Development (iPD) Portfolio to complete the Nutrition Building Blocks course. Continuing education units (CEUs) are available. Receive 0.2 CEUs or two contact hours for completing the course.
Watch the video below and learn how to use elements from I Am Moving, I Am Learning (IMIL) to create in-person and virtual learning experiences that lay a foundation for healthy nutrition and school success.
How IMIL Supports Early Learning Success
Nutrition Building Blocks: How I Am Moving, I AM Learning (IMIL) Supports Early Learning Success
Steve Shuman: I think we will get started. Again, I’m Steve Shuman from the National Center on Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety. As the director of outreach and distance learning, it’s my pleasure to introduce “Nutrition Building Blocks: How I Am Moving, I Am Learning” – otherwise known as IMIL – “Supports Early Learning Success.” I’m going to give you a little tour of today’s platform and make a few notes so that you can get the most out of today’s webinar session. On the main part of your screen, you should be seeing the slides, and that’s where all of the information is going to happen. Later on in the session, you’ll see a poll appear there and a couple of videos. It’ll be important that you’re listening today through your computer speakers. If you happen to be on the telephone to hear, you will not hear the audio to those two videos. You’ll hear everything else except for that.
Moving along, to the left of the slide is the chat box. So many of you just jumped right in and started welcoming each other. It’s so nice to see you and to know where you’re from. You can use that chat box to communicate with each other throughout today’s session. Underneath the chat box, if you’re having any technical issues, you may have to download the Adobe Connect app, and there’s a link there for Windows operators and for Mac operators. Choose the link that you need for your particular device. To the right of the Technical Issues box is the Web Links box. In the Web Links box, you’ll see a link to the evaluation and certificate. You can open that up. If you select it and go down to the Browse To or the Rocketship icon, you’ll be able to open that up and it will open in a new window. You’ll get an evaluation that you’ll need to follow all those directions. Submit the evaluation, and then a new link will appear to the certificate. You open that up and you’ll need to download and save that certificate. You can then print it. I’ll repeat those directions at the end of today’s session.
In that same pod, there are links to our MyPeers communities, both the IMIL community and the Building Community Nutrition Partnerships community as well. There’s a link to our mailing list and a link to two of the Performance Standards that we’re going to mention in today’s session. To the right of the Web Links pod is the File Share pod, where you can download a copy of today’s slides as well as a resource list. Most of the resources mentioned in today’s session are there on the list, as well as some additional resources.
I want you to know that today’s webinar has a lot of photographs to engage you, and some of them will be photographs of people pre-pandemic. So, not everyone is going to be masked, and not everyone’s going to be physically distancing. We know those are two strategies we want people to be paying attention to if you’re conducting in-person learning, but we have pictures, like the one here on the cover slide, where obviously she’s eating, she wouldn’t be wearing a mask, but you’ll see pictures throughout the session that may be masked or may not be masked. So, just know that as a caveat.
Again, welcome, everyone. We have about 900 people, and we’re looking to get you all in here as fast as possible. Let me introduce today’s presenters. One of the mothers of IMIL – Amy Requa. Amy Requa is a board-certified pediatric nurse practitioner in primary care and our subject matter expert in the National Center on Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety for I Am Moving, I Am Learning. In 2004, Amy co-authored IMIL with Dr. Linda Carson and her Region III colleagues. Amy provided leadership as the national technical assistance lead for IMIL for the Office of Head Start. Currently, Amy is the senior health manager for the Pennsylvania Key in support of Pennsylvania’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning. We’re so lucky to have Amy, and welcome.
Our other presenter is Nicole Patterson. Nicole Patterson is a nutritionist and a National Resource Center content manager responsible for managing ongoing revisions of the Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards, otherwise known as CFOC. She also serves as the content lead for nutrition and nutrition services within the National Center on Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety. In a large Head Start program in Colorado Springs, Nicole gained experience in creating educational programs and resources for Head Start children and their families, including wellness-based programs and nutrition-focused classes that were proven to establish critical skills in reading food labels, healthy shopping on a budget, and proper portion sizes.
So with that, I’m so excited to kick off today’s session. And I believe that Amy’s taking over.
Amy Requa: Yes. Hi, Steve. Can you hear me?
Steve: I can. I’m so glad you’re here.
Amy: Yeah. Thank you so much for that warm introduction. We’re really excited to see everyone signing in from all over the country. That’s wonderful. Let’s get started.
Steve: Amy. I realized I forgot to mention about questions. I want to do that upfront, and then we’ll read it again. I’m sorry to interrupt you. If you have technical questions, if you can’t hear or can’t see, you type it in that Technical Question box. But if you have questions about the content, we encourage you to post those on IMIL MyPeers community or the Building Community Nutrition Partnerships community on MyPeers and engage in a conversation with both today’s presenters and all of your colleagues. So, hold your content questions for MyPeers. Technical questions go into Technical Question box. I’m sorry, Amy. Go right ahead.
Amy: Thanks for clarifying that, Steve. I appreciate it. Today’s learning objectives are to describe how nutrition impacts early development and supports early-learning success, to use research-based practices to guide healthy eating habits promoting oral health as well as overall health, and to share activities and strategies for integrating nutrition into daily routines to develop healthy active learners. As an outcome of this session, you should walk away with several take-back ideas that you can use immediately.
First, we want to give a brief overview of I Am Moving, I Am Learning, also referred to as IMIL. For many years, Head Start programs across the country have been using the I Am Moving, I Am Learning approach to promote active learning and best practices for childhood obesity prevention, nutrition, brain development, and physical activity for their children, families, and staff.
We would like to conduct a quick poll right now just to see how familiar with IMIL you might be. For example, maybe you’ve attended an in-person IMIL training. Maybe you’re using IMIL currently. Maybe you’ve never even heard of it. That’s fine. Now you have. Please select any of the statements which apply to you. Great. Thanks for filling this in. Looks like people are still adding. About a third have never heard of I Am Moving, I Am Learning. So, this is great. You’re going to get a good dose of it today hopefully, at least with regards to nutrition and integrating nutrition into daily routines. Looks like a lot of programs have implemented IMIL. That’s wonderful, always glad to hear that. Many of you have heard of it but haven’t yet attended.
Again, as Steve was saying, we definitely want to reach out and make sure everyone has access now. Good. Some of you have attended a three-day in-person, about 20% of you. OK, that’s great. It’s good to get a feeling for the audience. Thanks a lot for that poll, Kate. You can continue. Great.
Those are just our questions. Just a few things that we want to do now to set the stage for this session. We want to highlight some key concepts about IMIL. IMIL is unique as a childhood obesity prevention approach. What sets it apart is that it’s not a separate nutrition and physical activity curriculum. IMIL is an active learning enhancement to your program’s existing child development curriculum and instructional approach. It provides a wealth of easily integrated activities designed to intentionally amplify what you already do in your program. It helps all learning programs to work smarter, not harder, to promote optimal nutrition and physical activity for children, staff, and families.
IMIL was designed really to integrate more active nutrition and movement experiences within the usual routines of the day and across all learning domains. It encourages staff to fully engage as active play partners with children in the classroom, which creates a more satisfying and stimulating environment for both children and staff. Also, IMIL provides strategies for extending these healthy learning experiences to families at home, inspiring multiple generations to enjoy more active and healthy lifestyles together. Through this approach, nutrition comes alive with meaning for children, staff, and families. Nutrition is so much more than just a weekly event or a flavor of the month, right? Today, we’re going to focus on the IMIL goals to promote healthy food choices every day, whatever the setting is – at home, in classrooms, wherever children go. Nutritional habits are the building blocks for lifelong health and well-being. We will explore using in-person and virtual learning experiences to reinforce healthy eating habits as a foundation for school success. Of course, growing and developing healthy active learners requires that children form those healthy eating habits from an early age.
Throughout this session, we will share information and strategies that early childhood staff can use in the classroom and other information that families can remember at home. We encourage you to think about incorporating these activities into your work with children and families. Also, we encourage you to think about using this information for your own health and well-being. Important elements of IMIL include the role modeling of healthy practices within our programs, but we’re also speaking to adults about their own health at home. We know children observe adults in their lives, and they may tend to do as we do, not as we say. So, what adults do as role models is important.
With IMIL, we do take the position that nutrition is not just an eating event or a topic that we put into our lesson plans that we address on Wednesday morning. IMIL promotes integrating nutrition themes with classroom or home-based learning activities throughout the day, every day. You’re learning experiences that reinforce shape, textures, sizes, colors, sorting, matching, counting, voting, and many others can be explored using nutrition examples. The short bursts of physical activity throughout your day can and should include nutrition examples.
We want to enhance learning opportunities using nutrition vocabulary and nutrition skills, which are suggested in IMIL’s healthy habits vocabulary framework. As you can see here on the slide, look at the many vocabulary words that can be discussed and experienced. IMIL is all about intentionally providing a variety of nutrition and physical activity experiences, which create a context for children to understand and develop their vocabulary. We encourage families to include children in similar nutrition-learning experiences while at home. Also, children should have some role in preparing meals even. Research shows that children are more likely to eat the food if they can help.
Those highlighted vocabulary words that you see under the food and drink skills on this slide include mixing, stirring, rolling, pounding, shaking. These words are going to be featured next when we do a song together. Yes. We are going to. Speaking of walking the talk, let’s watch a fun video clip of stirring movement into nutrition by doing the “Shake, Mix, Pound, and Roll” song. This is a very popular song that incorporates movement with nutrition words and skills. A very popular IMIL strategy, in fact, is using lively music and movement with embedded health messages to promote healthy habits. To honor the enthusiastic spirit of IMIL and to get physically active during this song, we ask you to play along with us. Please stand up if you can and create a little space around you, and move along with us wherever you are right now. Remember, as Steve said, you can only hear this through your computer speakers, not your phone. But if you have difficulty seeing or hearing, you will be able to experience the song by viewing the recording later. So, here it comes. Great, we’re going to get this started. So play along, everyone.
[Video begins] [Music playing]
Teacher and student: [Singing] Sure are. We shake and we shake, and we shake and shake and shake. We shake and we shake and we shake and shake and shake. And we mix and we stir, and we mix and stir and mix. We mix and we stir, and we mix and stir and mix. We pound and we pound, and we pound and pound and pound. We pound and we pound, and we pound and pound and pound. We roll and we roll, and we roll and roll and roll. We roll and we roll, and we roll and roll and roll.
Student: [Singing] That sounds good.
Teacher: [Singing] It does, doesn’t it?
Teacher and student: [Singing] We shake and we shake, and we shake and shake and shake. We mix and we stir, and we mix and stir and mix. We pound and we pound, and we pound and pound and pound. We roll and we roll, and we roll and roll and roll.
Student: [Singing] Can I taste it?
Teacher: [Singing] You sure can.
Teacher and student: [Singing] We shake and we shake, and we mix and stir and mix. We pound and pound, and we roll and roll and roll. We shake and we shake, and we mix and stir and mix. We pound and we pound, and we roll and roll and roll.
Student: [Singing] Let’s make it a little faster.
Teacher: [Singing] Yeah, let’s do that.
Teacher and student: [Singing] We shake and we shake, and we mix and stir and mix. We pound and pound, and we roll and roll and roll. We shake and we shake, and we mix and stir and mix. We pound and we pound, and we roll and roll and roll.
Teacher: [Singing] How about we speed it up some more? Are you ready?
Student: [Singing] Ready.
Teacher and student: [Singing] We shake, and we mix, and we pound, and we roll. We shake and we mix, and we pound and we roll. We shake and we mix, and we pound and we roll. We shake and we mix, and we pound and we roll.
Teacher: [Singing] Time to eat!
Amy: Oh wow, that was great, everyone. Please repeat after me. Music makes me feel good.
Nicole Patterson: Music makes me feel good.
Amy: Moving exercise of my brain.
Nicole: Moving exercises my brain.
Amy: Moving energizes my body.
Nicole: Moving energizes my body.
Amy: Moving gets me ready to learn.
Nicole: And moving gets me ready to learn.
Amy: So, I am ready to learn.
Nicole: I am ready to learn.
Amy: Great. Thanks for calling back to me, Nicole. Now that we’re ready to learn, let’s hear from Nicole.
Nicole: Thanks, Amy. For those of you that don’t know, that was me and my son in that video, and we’ll be sharing another one a little bit later on. We had a lot of fun with that song. Let’s go ahead and jump right into our first learning objective and really take a look at how nutrition impacts early development in learning.
First, let’s look at current nutritional concerns in children. We know that good nutrition during childhood is essential for growth and development as well as health and well-being, yet many children’s diets may fall considerably short of recommended dietary standards. During this webinar, we’ll be discussing and sharing information from the newest set of Dietary Guidelines – the 2020–2025 “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” – and we’ll also talk about each of the food groups of MyPlate as well. We’ll talk a little bit more about the “Dietary Guidelines” in a second.
What do we know? We currently know that in general, most young children are not eating enough fruits and vegetables. As some of you have commented in the chat, this is especially true today given that the COVID-19 pandemic is currently happening and the increase in food-insecure households – we’re seeing an increase in that as well. Food-insecure children may consume even less fresh fruits and vegetables than their peers. When we’re talking about recommendations for fruits and vegetables, how much is enough? Depending on age, children 2 to 8 should be consuming around 1 cup to 1 and 1/2 cups of fruit, and around 1 cup to 1 and 1/2 cups of vegetables. Of the vegetables that children may be consuming, we’re usually seeing the more starchy ones being selected, things like potatoes and corn. We’re also seeing that young children consume high amounts of added sugars. In fact, research shows that, on average, sugar can make up up to 17% of what children consume each day. For this reason and for reasons we’ll talk about today, current guidance recommends decreasing the amount of food and beverages with added sugars. We’ll talk more about added sugars a little bit later.
When it comes to practical strategies which you can use, Amy will discuss many great classroom activities that are fun about educating kids on different fruits and vegetables. When it comes to sharing information with parents and families, we really encourage families to include their children in preparing and cooking meals, having children tag along at the grocery store to explore and select fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s really a great way to get them involved and excited about eating these foods.
We’re also seeing that children are spending more time in front of a screen. Again, this is especially true today due to the pandemic. Screen time should continue to be limited to prevent the replacement of positive activities like exercise, socializing, and sleep. It’s important now more than ever that program staff, but also families, continue to model healthy screen use and really lead by example, encouraging families to make a point of setting aside their own screens during set times. Then lastly, most children sleep less than the recommended amount. We’re seeing that preschoolers need about 11 to 12 hours of sleep each day, which can include a nap. The most important thing is to help kids develop good, consistent habits for getting to sleep. Teachers and caregivers should be aware of changes in behavior, such as irregular eating or sleep patterns and how that may be a result of stress or anxiety in the child due to the pandemic.
We’ve provided several detailed resources on sleep recommendations by age as well as a resource for identifying potential behavior changes, including sleep pattern changes in children, in the webinar resources that you have available to you. Again, in terms of practical strategies, we want to limit screen time in the classroom to those that are more educational programming, those movement songs, and so on to keep physical activity up and overall screen time down. When it comes to sharing information with families, programs are encouraged to send home weekly newsletters and resources to parents about what their children are doing in the classroom. When children learn some new activities or songs that involve movement, they’re usually excited to share it with the whole family.
Next – healthy eating habits. In order for children to grow at a healthy rate, they require the right amount of nutrients such as calories, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Healthy eating habits allow children to get the right amount of nutrients to support growth and development. When the child is nourished and healthy, they’re overall more likely to succeed in school and life. Healthy eating patterns promote a child’s young brain and body to develop properly. Well-nourished bodies and well-nourished brains are ready to learn. Research shows that children who receive breakfast at school, rather than no breakfast, have improved test scores, especially in math and reading, and these children also tend to have fewer absences.
The proper balance of nutrients in the first 1,000 days of life is critical for normal brain development, including learning, attention, the ability to control impulses and mood, and even the ability to multitask or plan as that child gets older. Shortages in nutrients can decrease the child’s ability to learn and be physically active. The way that the brain develops during childhood may define how the brain will work for the rest of that child’s life. Nerves are growing and connecting consistently throughout childhood, and this can affect the adult that they become as well as how they think or feel.
Next, I want to talk about grains, the next food group. Grains provide some of the primary sources of energy that are important for the brain to grow and develop appropriately. When children are practicing healthy eating habits and eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, their brain is receiving adequate nutrients to function properly. Again, what is the right amount of grain? Depending on age, children 2 to 8 years old should be consuming around 3 to 5 ounces of grains, of which half of those grains should be whole grains. There are also additional nutrients that are necessary for healthy brain development. Children must consume a variety of different foods within each of these food groups to get all these important nutrients. A healthy variety of foods fuel the brain and the body. Let’s look briefly at how the following food groups, or MyPlate, allows for children to get these nutrients.
Protein sources – the next food group that I want to talk about really briefly is protein. With protein, we’re seeing that children, again, depending on age, around 2 to 8 years old should be consuming 2 to 4 ounces of protein each day. Protein is like a piece of chicken or maybe protein alternatives – like beans, peas, lentils, or perhaps nuts and seeds – provide a variety of nutrients including protein, zinc, iron, choline, and a number of B vitamins including B6 and B12. We also see that certain protein sources such as fatty fish, like salmon or tuna, provide a number of nutrients including omega 3s as well as vitamin B6 and B12. Now let’s look at the dairy food group. For the dairy group, again, children 2 to 8, depending on age, should be consuming 2 to 2 and 1/2 cups of dairy per day. With dairy products like cheese, yogurt, whole milk, those types of things, we’re going to get a variety of nutrients including vitamins, including A and C, vitamin D, and so on. When we include all of these food groups along with a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains that we’ve been talking about, we can really understand how a variety of foods that incorporate all these food groups really help to fuel a child’s brain and body. The takeaway is to really focus on providing and giving children a variety of all these foods in all these food groups throughout the day.
Practical strategies that programs can use – if your program provides meals or snacks in-house and you feel like your menus are lacking in terms of variety, consider taking time to plan a larger rotational menu with standardized recipes and really utilizing what’s available to you. Your child and adult care food program state agency contacts are on your side and want to see you succeed. They can be a great resource for CFOC-approved meal and snack ideas to help with increasing variety in your menu. Really encourage families to make healthier eating habits at home as well. This can be done by hosting live or prerecorded cooking sessions online with a healthy snack or new idea. Programs can send ingredients ahead of time or deliver and drop off at the family’s home. Families may be given recipe cards or recipe books to follow along with as well.
Another great way to get all these nutrients in is through healthy fun smoothies. [Inaudible] with parents and children, or perhaps pregnant moms or new moms with children under 1. Program staff can do a live Zoom or a prerecorded Zoom where we show families how to make healthy smoothies similar to virtual cooking classes. Again, programs can provide those ingredients ahead of time.
All right, and with that, I’m going to go ahead and turn it over to Amy to talk about guess the FAV.
Amy: Great. Thanks so much, Nicole. That was wonderful. Here’s a fun nutrition activity to help children crave FAV or fruits and veggies. This activity works well in the classroom or at home. FAV stands for Fruits and Vegetables, and the game is called “Guess the FAV.” This activity encourages children to try new FAVs and learn about them.
You can place a mystery fruit or vegetable in the nontransparent bag, like this paper bag. Then encourage children to reach inside and describe what they feel. Ask children to describe its shape, size, and texture. Afterward, remove the item from the bag and describe any remaining characteristics like color, smell, so on and so forth. Maybe some would stop a game right now and move on, but we have the opportunity to stretch this – [Cough] excuse me – and extend the theme even more by asking, what can we learn about pears? We could also consider discussing where and how pears are grown, nutrition facts about them, and how pears help our bodies stay healthy. Finally we can demonstrate how to prepare the foods such as this pear by rinsing it off or washing it off in this case and then safely, if policy permits, provide the children samples to smell and taste. We can try playing this game with foods that are both familiar to children and unfamiliar to them.
If we’re engaging with families online in a virtual way, we could ask them to type their ideas into the chat box. Think about an activity previously used in the classroom and how you could do it remotely, as Nicole has just highlighted for us.
This slide demonstrates a strategy that one classroom used to share information with parents about fruits and vegetables. They devoted some wall space to display the results of this game along with what the children learned. Pictures of the children’s faces were displayed under three categories of like it, liked it a lot, and didn’t like it yet. I like that one. Not liking the food yet encourages the children to keep trying the food and for the families to keep serving the food. What was learned about the food from the “Guess the Fruits and Vegetables” game was displayed on the wall. This is a possible topic of discussion when families pick up or drop off their children. Now Nicole will give us some information about creating more positive eating environments.
Nicole: Thanks, Amy. Before we get into positive eating environments, I want to talk about critical periods of growth. Children will experience several periods of rapid growth and development between birth to age 5. These periods require establishing those healthy eating habits early in life to ensure that they’re properly nourished. This is especially true in the first year as a baby’s organs and nervous system – again, which includes the brain – continue to develop and the baby grows physically. Breast milk or infant formulas are made up of all the things that children need to thrive during this time. Around 6 months of age, children begin to require more calories and nutrients to grow and develop properly. This is especially true for iron. Children are born with enough iron to last them for 6 months. At around 6 months of age, children need to begin solid food to continue to keep the right amount of iron in their body. We’ve provided a great resource for introducing foods to children for you to access later on. Again, that’s in your webinar resource list that’s available to you.
As infants progress into toddlers, they experience increases in body size and physical activity. As a child goes from crawling to walking, we see an increase in physical activity. This also warrants an increase in the need for certain nutrients. This is also a time when those omega 3s that we discuss are important to support the toddler’s still-growing nervous system and brain. We want to encourage nutritious food choices with toddlers during this time as they begin to acquire their eating activity and sleep patterns. We also know through research that it’s easier to establish healthy eating habits early in life rather than trying to change them later on. Additionally, during these early years, children are learning what, when, and how much to eat based on the transmission of cultural and familial beliefs, attitudes, practices surrounding food and eating. Science shows us that by age 2 children are assuming the eating habits of their family. We’ll talk more about responsive feeding practices and how we can gently encourage healthy eating habits without pressure. Early Head Start and Head Start services, and particularly home-based and family-engagement services, are vital to help parents build healthy habits for their families, and it’s really never too early to start.
Next, I want to talk a little bit about food insecurity and define food insecurity because this is a very common concern that we’re seeing, especially in today’s world. Food insecurity is a major concern because Head Start and other early childhood programs will and may have already begun seeing an increase in the number of children that are hungry and simply not getting enough calories and nutrients that are critical for their growth. What is food insecurity? Food insecurity is defined as having limited or uncertain access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy lifestyle.
When it comes to Head Start families who were not food insecure before, they may be more likely to experience food insecurity due to the pandemic. When it comes to education and learning, we’re also seeing that food insecurity is associated with children struggling to learn. This may be substantial in terms of risks to overall physical health and mental well-being of children if they don’t have access to those healthy foods.
These are very uniquely challenging times. Through research and numerous surveys, we’re seeing that the number of children living in households that are struggling with food insecurity have increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To kind of give you an idea of what food insecurity looks like in America, pre-COVID data from 2018 from USDA’s Food Insecurity Survey show that 37 million individuals were experiencing food insecurity, of which 11 million being children. As a result of COVID, these numbers have increased to 54 million experiencing food insecurity as of now, with 18 million being children.
We know that food insecurity experienced during a child’s life threatens development, especially when it comes to the brain. Children in food-insecure households are likely to have unhealthy and inconsistent eating habits, which can affect learning and possibly putting them at risk for other issues like obesity and other long-term problems. Food insecurity can also lead to a child being overfed and undernourished. Many food-insecure households depend heavily on high-calorie, low-nutrient foods because the cost of these types of food tends to be less expensive. Early care and education programs and Head Start programs should take note of a child’s eating pattern in the classroom. Do children come to school hungry? Are your kids coming to the classroom hungry? Did they eat breakfast before coming to school? If a child is bringing lunches and snacks, do they include healthy choices like fruits or vegetables, or are they mostly those convenience type of foods? Identifying these types of things can help identify families that may be possibly struggling with food insecurity.
How can I support food-insecure families or families possibly struggling with food insecurity? It can start with using assessment strategies to identify families struggling with food insecurity. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a screening tool as simple as a question survey or statement survey can accurately help to identify families struggling with food insecurity. This can be done by asking families if they can relate to any of the following: In the past 1 to 2 months, we worried whether our food would run out before we got money to buy more. In the past 1 to 2 months, the food we bought just didn’t last and we didn’t have money to get more. Or in the past 1 to 2 months, we had to lower the quality of food because money was tight.
These types of statements or questions may already be asked at enrollment, but given the current pandemic, programs should consider checking in with families to see if they may be struggling with these types of food-insecurity issues. Really answering yes to this style of question or statement may help indicate that a family is struggling with food insecurity without necessarily being aware that they’re expressing it. This can allow for staff to recognize and provide resources for families who may be hesitant to ask for assistance.
The next step in supporting families once they are identified will focus largely on education and improving the eating habits of the family as a whole. Explaining to parents and caregivers that they need to offer less calorie-dense food and, also, somehow eat more fruits and vegetables can imply an unintentional insensitive tone without some understanding of the barriers that may be preventing this from happening. We also want to remember that children are part of the insecure household. Therefore, the fight against food insecurity needs to include helping and supporting the family unit and really emphasizing and understanding the fact that it is hard to eat healthy. These types of conversations can be helpful in initiating more honest interactions with families or more honest conversations with families. This allows us to better understand and support and overcome the potential barriers that our families are facing.
Next, I want to briefly touch on the new “Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” The “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” – the 2020–2025 guidelines – these new federal “Dietary Guidelines” that were released in December of 2020 and that replace the 2015–2020 guidelines include recommendations for healthy dietary patterns for infants and toddlers. This is great because this is the first time that this has been included since the 1985 version. The “Dietary Guidelines” come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or the USDA, and Health and Human Services and offer guidance by stages of the lifespan, making it the first edition to follow this approach. The common theme in this edition is that children consume small quantities of food, so it’s important to make every bite count.
There are four overarching guidelines to the 2020–2025 edition, and these are to follow a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage; customize and enjoy nutrient-dense food and beverages to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgetary considerations; focus on meeting food-group needs with nutrient-dense food and beverages and staying within calorie limits; and then lastly, limit foods and beverages high with added sugars, saturated fats, as well as salt.
The principles and guidelines are achieved in our Head Start programs by following the Child and Adult Care Food Program’s components and meal-pattern requirements and providing a healthy variety of meals with staff and also serving a variety of healthy foods from the MyPlate food groups. Remember that MyPlate does align with the current “Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” And then communicating with families about food preferences that can be included in the program, so include cultural and budgetary considerations as well, especially when we’re educating parents on feeding their families at home. Key messages to give to families can include meeting nutritional needs, primarily some wholesome food and beverages, and choose a variety of options for each group, and pay attention to portion size. We’ll talk more about portion size a little bit later.
As a nutrition educator, one of my favorite activities is taking commonly consumed food items and comparing them visually. This slide is a great visual comparison of the nutritional value of orange juice versus four orange slices. As mentioned, the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” recommends meeting food-group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages and also staying within those calorie limits. This includes limiting beverages higher in added sugars while focusing more on those wholesome nutritious foods.
From the slide, you can see that four orange slices provides 31 calories. It will provide about 58% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C. It will provide about 1 gram of fiber and about 3 grams of sugar. If we compare that to orange juice, you’re going to get a much higher amount of calories, about 84 calories, 17% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C – so much lower than those four orange slices. We don’t see any – if at all – low, low amounts of fiber in orange juice. The real only way to get fiber through orange juice is through those orange slices themselves. And then lastly, you’ll see that the grams of total sugar are much, much higher in that 6 ounces of 100% orange juice. The takeaway message to children and families if deciding to include this type of similar activity in their nutrition education is to remember that it’s always better to eat your fruit than it is to drink it. Always better to eat your food than drink it. Also include more wholesome-type foods like an apple or an orange. Those things are more nutritious than a processed version – orange juice or apple juice. Families may start to reflect or rethink what they’re providing for their families. Amy, let’s talk more about rethink your drink.
Amy: Great. Thanks so much, Nicole. That was really great to hear all the details. Just hearing from you about how many more grams of sugar are in juice compared to whole fruit – in order to make those healthier choices for children – we definitely want to encourage families to rethink your drink because adult role modeling for children is a big responsibility. Whether we’re in the classroom or at home, adults need to be aware of what’s inside those drinks.
Sugary drinks are everywhere, aren’t they? As program staff and as families, including parents and grandparents, it’s important to pause, reflect, and rethink your drink as a strategy to engage parents and families in nutrition discussions. Reading and understanding nutrition labels accurately is a food-literacy skill that’s really essential to improving healthy drinking and eating habits for families and for ourselves. Intentional practice and making informed nutrition choices is an aspect of self-care, and it’s also a key element of I Am Moving, I Am Learning.
Let’s take a look at this sugar calculator on the slide. This simple sugar calculation can help in guiding people’s selections. First you find the number of grams of sugar listed on the label. Then you divide that number of grams by four to get the number of teaspoons of sugar per serving. So, 4 grams equals 1 teaspoon of sugar.
Let’s take a look at some examples here in this wonderful visual showing sugar in common drinks. The drinks listed here have the number of calories and teaspoons of sugar, and the visual also includes how many minutes of brisk or vigorous walking is necessary to burn off the drink. I think it’s a great visual because it adds the requirements of brisk walking. The amount of sugar in each of these drinks except for the water is quite shocking, isn’t it? The juice drink contains 17 teaspoons of sugar. That’s actually more teaspoons of sugar than the soda, which comes in at 14 teaspoons. And the vitamin-added water, which is often advertised by commercial food and beverage companies as a healthier choice, well, it still contains 8 teaspoons of sugar per 20 fluid ounces. My goodness. All of these drinks require at least 30 minutes of brisk walking to burn off the calories – at least. This visual reminds us to choose health and drink water, and clearly water has 0 calories and contains no added sugars.
Drinks can be a large source of calories for both children and adults. Continue to remind families that drinking too much soda, sports drinks, and fruit-flavored drinks can lead children to take in excess calories and added sugars. In contrast to bottled waters, tap water is lower in cost as well. In IMIL we use a catchy health message, and we say drink less sugar. Yeah, that’s it. Drink less sugar. It’s good to remember this message. Also, there are many foods that contain sugar. Take a look at these common foods to see how many teaspoons of sugar they contain. Foods and beverages, especially those that contain excess sugars, will contribute to tooth decay in children and adults because nutrition and oral health are so closely connected.
Again, drinking tap water can reduce added sugars and extra calories when it is served to children and when we drink it ourselves. And furthermore, drinking fluoridated tap water can help prevent cavities in addition to the twice-daily toothbrushing with fluoridated toothpaste. What’s important to know about nutrition and oral health is that what’s good for your body is good for your teeth. It’s good practice for children and adults. Staff can share this with families. Also because children have small stomachs, they need healthy snacks to meet their nutrition needs. To prevent tooth decay, families can offer snacks at regular times between meals. Children shouldn’t be allowed to graze on foods and drinks just spontaneously throughout the day because this habit contributes to tooth decay.
To increase healthy snacking at home, families need to make the easy choice the healthy choice. That’s another message of IMIL. Make the easy choice the healthy choice. One idea is to prepare a snack box for the refrigerator at home. Families can fill the snack box with small portions of cheese sticks, apple slices, orange slices, cut carrots, for example, and place it on the shelf at eye level for children to grab by themselves when it’s snack time – when parents give permission to have snack time. This gives families the power to make the easy choice the healthy choice as a regular habit. With a snack box, children can choose between an apple and an orange instead of an apple and chips.
Here’s another memorable message from I Am Moving, I Am Learning. Water your kids and yourself. This becomes a game for children. We know they love and enjoy watering plants with a watering can, so teachers and families could suggest that they water themselves just like they water the plants. Adults need more water too. How will you do a better job of watering yourself?
The Healthy Drinks, Healthy Kids campaign has many, many resources to download. We’ve actually included the Healthy Drinks, Healthy Kids in your resource list, which you can download. Now Nicole will share more about how important water is to brain development. Nicole.
Nicole: Thanks, Amy. Water is so important for healthy growth and development. Water makes up a large percentage of our body. But did you know that 85% of our brain is composed of water? That’s also true for children. Therefore, like Amy said, it’s important to give children access to water throughout the day for the brain and nervous system to operate correctly. Children can become dehydrated faster than adults because they metabolize or process food and nutrients and water quicker than adult. Programs should continue to offer and safely provide water throughout the day to children. When talking with families about choosing healthy options at home, it’s best to start with plain water before introducing sweeter drinks like juice. This helps kids develop healthy habits. They’re more likely to reach for that water first or ask for that water first. Oftentimes, children enjoy drinking water with pieces of fresh fruit added. Encouraging families to explore naturally flavored water with their children is a great idea.
Families can increase water intake by adding a silly straw to a cup or water bottle and reserve this cup for plain water only. Let children decorate their own water bottles, and encourage families to store the water bottle at eye level in the refrigerator so that it’s always available. It’s amazing how something so simple can be such a big motivator for young children. Lastly, when families model healthy behaviors, it can have a significant impact on the child’s habits. When our little ones see adults or older kids drinking water, it’s more likely to have an impact on their choices as well. Thanks, Amy.
Amy: Great. Thanks, Nicole.
The IMIL goal of promoting healthy food choices every day applies to program routines in the classroom, but it also includes what happens at home with families. We wanted to draw your attention to a few specific Head Start Program Performance Standards about collaborating with families on these topics, including the important connection between nutrition and oral health. Collaboration with families must include opportunities for discussion about the importance of healthy eating and drinking habits. These nutrition topics are all aligned with the Performance Standards. The entire standard that you see on your screen is provided as a web link on this platform, so check it out at the Web Links tab.
Let’s move on to talk about nutrition education. We just highlighted some strategies to engage parents in nutrition discussions. Let’s look at the topic of nutrition education in your own program. Do you agree that nutrition education varies from one program to another? Think about what nutrition education looks like in your own program. Is nutrition a Wednesday activity or are nutrition themes woven throughout daily routines in the classrooms? Maybe reading aloud from nutrition books is something children enjoy doing in your program. So let’s share some book ideas. Please type the name of your favorite nutrition book into the chat. Go ahead. Let’s share those nutrition-book ideas right now. Thanks.
Steve: Amy, I see “Potter the Otter,” Henry Gets Moving,” “Eat Your Peas,” “The Two Bite Club,” “Stone Soup,” “Too Many Carrots,” “Tops and Bottoms,” “Gregory,” [Inaudible] “Hungry Caterpillar.” They’re really flying now. I thought I could catch them.
Amy: [Laughing] Good. Good.
Steve: “Eating the Alphabet.”
Amy: Yeah, “Eating the Alphabet.” Excellent.
Steve: “Doc Soup,” “How Are You Peeling?” I like that.
Amy: “How Are You Peeling” – yeah.
Steve: “Regie Rainbow’s Rye Bread.”
Amy: I think we saw that one too.
Steve: “Dragons Love Tacos” – I had no idea. “A Case of the Stripes,” “Little Critter,” “Good for Me and You,” “Eat Your Colors” – that’s a good one – “Lana the Iguana,” “The Two Bite Club,” “Give Me Five a Day.”
Amy: Oh wow, that’s great. Thank you for sharing those.
Steve: So many great ideas. We’re going to get some of these onto MyPeers. Maybe we can create a list and post that right onto MyPeers page. “Yum Yum Dim Sum,” that’s my idea of a good time. “Lunch.”
Amy: [Laughter] That would be great to post them on MyPeers, yeah.
Steve: “I Will Never Not Eat a Tomato,” “How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food?,” “At the Supermarket.” People are being so generous with their ideas. I hope folks see them coming by, and we will create a list. We’ll be able to see all your ideas. “Jamberry,” “Apple Farmer Annie,” “Green Eggs and Ham,” “The Spaghetti Factory.”
Amy: That’s wonderful. Thanks for sharing, everyone. We will definitely make a list from your contributions and post the list on MyPeers. That’ll encourage everyone also to go to MyPeers to do some more sharing.
I did notice in the chat box also that there were some folks who were excited about planting gardens. Just as we don’t want to leave those social, emotional, and cognitive development experiences to chance in our work, we definitely need to be more intentional about planning for enriching nutrition experiences. We’re aware that many programs are involved in planting gardens, including smaller container gardens in limited space because it’s a fun way to incorporate nutrition education. Gardening connects children to nature and whole foods such as fruits and vegetables. Gardening with children even offer solutions for picky eaters while it models cooperation, simply because children are more likely to enjoy trying and eating the food that they had a hand in growing. They learn about where foods come from, like whether a vegetable or fruit grows on top of the ground or on trees or maybe underneath the soil. Planting provides sensory experiences and builds vocabulary. Children never forget these lived learning experiences. They will last a lifetime.
Currently, many programs are enjoying the farm-to-table and farm-to-early-childhood education projects as part of their state-level physical activity and nutrition initiatives. Programs report many positive outcomes for children, including eating more fruits and vegetables, more physical activity by being outside and engaging, and improved nutrition knowledge when they are given these wonderful experiences. Also, nutrition education helps children learn about colors and shapes. It provides opportunities for children to practice those mealtime routines, such as taking turns and cooperation, as well as table manners. During family-style meals, children are tasting and exploring a variety of foods with their peers. Remember our “Shake, Mix, Pound, and Roll” song? Consider using more nutrition-related words and skills for vocabulary and language development. Repeated exposure to a variety of nutrition words in various contexts like during family meals helps them build language skills while reinforcing healthy eating habits.
Words about nutrition and oral health can be used in a text-rich classroom environment to support early-learning standards. To extend the learning to families, support and encourage them to cook at home with their children, as Nicole shared earlier. With patience and close supervision from adults, children can learn food-safety basics, obviously starting with hand-washing and also cleaning counters and even washing dishes. Children can further develop math, reading, science, and fine motor skills, all while spending that quality time together as a family. In fact, nutrition education fits so well within the classroom curricula. It supports early-learning frameworks and state standards. It’s an important element of I Am Moving, I Am Learning when programs can steer nutrition into other content to achieve their STEAM objectives. By intentionally integrating nutrition messages into daily routines, it enhances a program’s existing curriculum. Regardless of which curriculum is being used, children are practicing a variety of skills when engaging in nutrition experiences such as following directions when learning to follow a recipe and learning social skills. It requires sequencing, measuring, matching. These are all math skills. Science skills, such as observing, sorting, and classifying, that’s also involved, along with word recognition and language development.
Now let’s do some more sharing. Will you please type a few phrases into the chat box and share the absolute best nutrition activity you’ve ever seen? Go ahead, share it, and we’ll collect those too – the absolute best nutrition activity that you’ve ever seen. Are people typing? OK, great.
Steve: Sometimes there’s a delay, yeah.
Amy: Good. Good.
Steve: Folks starting rooting in the classroom and then moving them outside. Whoa, we’ve got all kinds of tasting activities, making sun bread, friendship salads, pancakes, purple cow. I don’t even know what that is. Oh, that’s a smoothie thing. Ants on a log I know. Food faces. Test with charting.
Amy: All great.
Steve: Lots of [Inaudible]. Hydroponic gardening. Yeah, go ahead.
Amy: OK, great. Great. Thanks, Steve. Yeah, we will continue to collect those and add them to MyPeers. So, thanks for sharing your ideas, everyone. Now we want to give you some more ideas that you can use right away.
Most programs post that daily routine, as you see on your slide there, and refer to it throughout the day. This provides a sense of order and time for children. So, on the screen are examples of some of the routines that might get posted each day. Programs should not like these posted routines go unnoticed by your families. Encourage the families to ask their children specific questions about the day such as what did you do during circle time this morning? Or what did you have for snack today?
Here’s an example of an arrival activity that teachers can do with children. After an opportunity to taste a variety of red fruits, maybe during breakfast, children can vote for their favorite red fruit. Next, this could lead into a counting activity during morning circle time to count the number in each row and compare. Teachers could also review colors when children use different colored voting papers. Other characteristics of the fruits to reveal include what is the biggest fruit? What is the smallest fruit? Let’s say these in order from largest to smallest. Watermelon, apple, strawberry, raspberries. Which one grows on trees? Does your fruit or vegetable grow at a high, medium, or low level, such as in a tree, a bush, or low to the ground like a strawberry patch?
To integrate movement into the activity, children could perform an action that corresponds with their answer such as pretending to pick or prepare the fruit that they selected. Teachers could continue to pose a variety of questions such as if apples are your favorite fruit, let me see you jump up and pretend to pick one from the trees? Or could you pretend to pick your favorite fruit, the one you voted for? Which red fruit do you think is the most favorite one today? Let’s count the votes to find out. Who can tell me what you should do to an apple before eating it? And let’s pretend to rinse off your fruit first with running water before we eat it. We are going to have one of these fruits for lunch today? Can you guess what it is? We will have to wait and see.
Here are additional examples for transition before and after lunch. We can use this chart to review what was served for breakfast and discuss what is going to be served for lunch. This provides children an opportunity for recall and prediction. It could stimulate more dialogue while children are washing their hands or being dismissed. Children can go to the chart and place a picture of the fruit or vegetable that they had during breakfast and lunch prior to going outside. We could then review the chart after our playtime outside, and this also provides another counting and sorting opportunity. Here’s another one. If I coordinate this with my school menu, I can have the children place the pictures in the appropriate columns for the fruits and vegetables they ate during breakfast and lunch. You can return to the chart and hold a discussion as you transition into story time. Other questions that could be posed might be what fruit did you have for lunch today? Did you guess correctly? What food did we the most of today? Was it the banana? Did we eat the same number of any food, maybe the apples and carrots? How many did we eat? Let’s count. Let’s do it together. And then you could read one of your favorite nutrition-themed books.
All right, now let’s see how we can add some more lively music to our nutrition activity ideas. In this song called “Stir the Soup,” we’re going to pretend to pick or prepare fruits and vegetables of various colors. We will play only one verse today. We can practice some fine motor skills like picking, peeling, slicing, and we can pretend to make a soup. The chorus of the song will ask us to throw it in the pot and stir the soup. Let’s stand up now and make a safe space for yourself. You can move your arms to pretend to stir the soup. And remember, children love it when you’re an animated play partner.
Look at the picture on the slide. These children are creating a big circle with friends and their teacher. This can represent a big soup kettle, and they’re doing it outside. You’ll hear this callback in the song, “Red really rocks.” Here is the verse that goes with “Red really rocks.” Let’s play along.
[Video begins] [Music playing]
Teacher: [Singing] Now throw it in the box and stir the soup. Stir the soup. Stir the soup. Throw it in the box and stir the soup. Stir the soup. Stir the soup.
Teacher: [Singing] When I say red really, you say rocks. Red really – red really. When I say red really, you say rock. Red really – red really.
Teacher: [Singing] Now pick your red cherries. Pick your red beets. Pick your red tomatoes. The healthy soup is ready to eat. Mm hmm.
Teacher: [Singing] Now throw it in the pot and stir the soup. Stir the soup. Stir the soup. Throw it in the pot and stir the soup. Stir the soup. Stir the soup. Now throw it in the pot and stir the soup. Stir the soup. Stir the soup. Throw it in the pot and stir the soup. Stir the soup. Stir the soup.
Amy: That was great fun.
Nicole: Wasn’t it?
Amy: It gave us a flavor of what’s possible when adult play partners actually move in sync to music with the children. It’s fun for everyone. I want to point out that this large parachute activity seen in this photo can be easily modified and adapted for families to do at home. It can be extended to the home for virtual learning as well. Families could toss colorful rolled-up socks into a large beach towel, a blanket, a tablecloth, a bed sheet, even a laundry basket. You could really use a real cooking pot, in fact, if you’re at home or a cardboard box placed outside could be the big kettle over a pretend fire.
The “Stir the Soup” song activity is an example of integrating intentional movement and physical activity into curricular activities and daily routines. We are increasing physical activity with lively music while integrating nutrition concepts. These engaging and fun learning activities for both children and adults improve the teaching and learning environment as described in the Head Start Program Performance Standard 1302.31, which is listed on the slide. The entire standard is there on your Adobe screen under Web Links, so be sure to check that out.
Now I’m going to toss this back to Nicole.
Nicole: Thanks, Amy. I want to talk about creating a positive eating environment. Early childhood programs as well as families at home should focus on creating a positive eating environment. Earlier I mentioned the importance of responsive feeding practices. Responsive feeding practices involve gentle encouragement of healthy eating habits without punishment or pressure. For example, families or teachers might say how good a food is and ask the child whether they would like to try it. If the child says no, they’ll accept the child’s no without further comment. Such responsive feeding practices support a child’s autonomy and self-regulation in eating or listening to their own hunger or satiety, satiety referring to feelings of fullness, and the likelihood of maintaining normal weight. This includes the things we say during mealtime. Help support satiety cues by using different phrases. For example, we often say you have to eat your spinach before you can have dessert. Instead try, how does your tummy feel? Does it have enough food, or would you like more? Another example is we often say eat more of that. Instead try, have you had enough to eat?
Adults are responsible for planning and preparing healthy meals and snacks for children. Children are responsible for deciding which of the healthy foods offered they would like to eat and deciding how much they would like to eat. In other words, the adult is responsible for what, when, where, and the child is responsible for how much and whether.
Many of us grew up with a clean-your-plate mentality that we need to finish all of the food on our plate or we are wasteful. However, as we’ve discussed, children learn how much food to choose by listening to their own hunger cues. Mealtimes should be pleasant, relaxing, and enjoyable. However, this may not be the case when we’re battling each other, trying to eat the food that we’ve been provided. This division of responsibility is recommended during mealtimes to avoid conflict. Really, the takeaway message, this is a learning process for children and staff, and some waste is to be expected as they build these skills. Remember to encourage one serving at a time with appropriate serving spoons to encourage children serving themselves appropriate amounts and listening to their hunger cues.
Next, I want to talk a little bit about proper portion sizing. Even at mealtimes, portion sizes should be smaller for children. Just like adults at the buffet line, children will eat more food than they need if that larger amount of food is placed in front of them. The toddler’s stomach is very small, and they cannot consume all the calories that they need in three meals alone. They need meals alternated with nutritious snacks throughout the day. Start small and ask them if they’re hungry before offering more.
When it comes to portion sizes, an easy-to-remember rule of thumb is 1 tablespoon of food for each birthday up to age 5. For example, an appropriate portion for a 3-year-old would be 3 tablespoons, while a 4-year-old would be 4 tablespoons or 1/4 cup. And use a measuring cup, 1/4 measuring cup, as a visual to introduce appropriate portion sizes for most foods for a 4-year-old child. Consider using a 1/4 cup and a tablespoon during home visits, parent meetings, special events, virtual events, any of those types of things, and use it to really facilitate discussion and demonstrating proper portion sizes for young children. This can be very valuable in contributions to program goals for parent education – parent and family education.
New foods can be difficult to get children to try. Think about how important portion sizing is when introducing children to new foods. If served a large portion of something they’ve never tried before, it can be very visually overwhelming. Early childhood programs can encourage children to compare and contrast concepts of scale and measurements like large and small to help in educating them about how much they should be eating. I highly encourage programs to check out the many resources and preschool activities that MyPlate provides in educating children and families around portion sizing.
It can be difficult to get children to accept new foods. Most toddlers are leery of new foods, spicy foods, hot-temperature foods, or a lot of mixed foods like casseroles. They can also be leery of foods with certain textures that they may not be familiar with. Encourage children to eat at least one bite of a new food. If the child does not want the rest, nothing negative should be said, and the child should be praised for being brave and trying something new. The food should then be reintroduced again to the child a few weeks later. Research shows that new foods may need to be given to a child anywhere between eight and 15 time before a child will accept that food. Positive reinforcement should be given to the child each time they take one bite of that new food. I personally have seen firsthand that programs can make the change to providing more new foods and more variety of foods and exposing children to these types of things that they will eventually enjoy eating.
Many programs struggle with adding new foods to their meals and snack menus, and many times that struggle comes from the fact that children may waste that food and possibly leave the program hungry due to fear of that new food. Remember, this is a learning process, and some waste is to be expected when we’re exposing children to new healthy food. Programs that want to begin introducing more variety of foods to their menus are encouraged to again start small, start slow, and stay consistent in exposing children to those new foods over time. Remember, remain positive in supporting that child’s journey to accepting new foods. It is hard work, but success in better nourishing the children that we serve is the outcome. Amy, let’s hear more about nourishing instead of feeding.
Amy: Great. Thanks, Nicole. We do want to give you some more nutrition messages from I Am Moving, I Am Learning, and one of them is nourish instead of feed. There is a difference. It describes how we can build children’s healthy eating habits because children’s growth and development is nurtured and cultivated in an intentional way.
Some more messages to remember from IMIL are “Know Your Menu.” It means use your menu to your advantage to provide the topics and foods and beverages to discuss during mealtime and other times during the day, perhaps using that schedule of activities we already discussed. Another message – planned seating. Sometimes you can’t control what’s served for lunch. However, you can still try using the menu to your advantage for seating. Use your menu to help plan nutrition experiences throughout the week and help determine where to place children during the lunch. For example, consider placing a child who does not typically eat peas between two children who would normally eat them. That’s a great strategy. Make mealtime a learning time. Involve children in conversation about the food they’re eating, the color, sources, and characteristics of the food. Do they eat it at home? If so, how do they prepare it with their family at home? This conversation could bring to light more cultural and linguistic aspects of family life.
These nourish-instead-of-feed ideas are modeled in your program, and you can encourage families to use the strategies at home to build those healthy eating habits. Set a good example. Children need to see it in us. Adults, including teachers, are encouraged to sit and eat with the children to model healthy nutrition practices. Adults are encouraged to eat the same foods and drink the same drinks as the children, and take at least one bite of every food item. Adults are discouraged from eating or drinking items that aren’t available for children. For example, avoid drinking soda while sitting at the table with children.
Chat and chew is a favorite one. It’s about creating a positive mood for mealtime by putting away phones and tablets and sitting down together around the table. Positive emotions lead to supportive conversations, and slowing down the pace allows for fully chewed food and good digestion. Mealtime can also be a great time for that family get together. Helping to select and prepare food, setting the table, and cleaning up afterward can create bonding time for families.
More key concepts are never using food as a reward or punishment and letting go of the clean-plate club for good.
Let’s review some of the key takeaways from this session. Nutrition supports early brain development and learning. Fun and engaging nutrition activities foster healthy eating habits. Foods that are good for your body are also good for your teeth. Integrating nutrition into daily routines develops healthy, active learners.
Looking back on everything from today’s presentation, we certainly hope this session has given you a new lens, so to speak, to enhance your individual role. Think about what you’re doing now. Did we provide any new ideas? What is one thing you’ll take back and use tomorrow? Please, if you want, type it into the chat box. For your program, think about the information through your program or team lens. What are you doing now as a program that’s related to what we shared? How can you use this information to infuse more nutrition ideas and activities into your program’s culture? And how will you continue to adapt to virtual learning environments, if necessary? How will you respond to the unique cultural and linguistic needs of your families as you sharpen your focus on nutrition?
Now Nicole is going to share more about MyPeers.
Nicole: Thanks, Amy. I want to take a moment now to invite you to join our MyPeers community, if you haven’t already. This webinar serves as a good springboard into having active, engaging discussions around nutrition and being active. If you have questions or want to engage in creative conversations or maybe share ideas and get tips and resources, please join us in both the Building Community Nutrition Partnerships community and the IMIL community.
We’ve included a web link to join MyPeers in the Web Links section, and it also looks like it’s been included in the chat as well. Please take time to join that, and I look forward to seeing you in MyPeers. I’ll go and turn it over to Steve to close us out. Thanks.
Steve: Oh my. I hope everyone’s heart is beating, thump, thump, thump. The fruits, the vegetables are spinning in my head. No more orange juice, only fresh fruits and vegetables.
I think this was great, Amy and Nicole. I really appreciate it. It was so good to see good friends on the chat and new friends on the chat. So many great ideas we’re going to be able to download and share across MyPeers.
If you didn’t listen to all of the instructions at the beginning – and I know many of you were able to log in a little after we got started – let me once again say that the evaluation and the certificate are in the Web Links part. And the way you do that is you select Evaluation and Certificate and choose either the Browse To button or the Rocketship button, whichever is on your screen, and open that up. That will bring you to an evaluation in a new window. You follow the directions for the evaluation. Submit the evaluation, and you’ll get a new link to the certificate. You open that link up, and you’ll be able to download the certificate, save it to your device, print it out, fill out your name, whenever you need to do with it. It is a certificate with today’s session title and the date and the 90-minute duration.
Other resources in the Web Links part include the two IMIL communities that Nicole just mentioned, a link to our mailing list, and the two Performance Standards that Amy mentioned during the session. In addition, in the Files Share pod, there are a copy of today’s slides and a resource list with nearly all of the resources that were mentioned on today’s session.
Again, I want to thank Nicole and Amy. Back of the house, I want to thank Kate and Livia for making this all work. And mostly I want to thank everyone who’s joined us today. Your sharing was so generous and so rich. We’re very excited about being able to move forward. In addition, let me say that everyone that registered, whether you were on or not, whether you have colleagues that weren’t approved for today’s session but registered anyway, everyone will get a recording of today’s session with audio and all of the links, the evaluation, the certificate, and the file shares for you to get. That will happen in another day or so, as soon as the recording is prepared. So, thank you, thank you, thank you. Expect that to come. And the National Center on Health, Health Behavior, and Safety is available at firstname.lastname@example.org, and our resources are on ECLKC Health.
Thank you all, and when the webinar ends, the evaluation link should pop up on your screen, so don’t close out. It will close out for you, and then you should get the evaluation if you weren’t able to grab it from the links. We’re going to stay open for another couple minutes so people can get any of their resources. Thank you, everyone. You’re welcome. Amy and Nicole, thank you so very much. If you want to say goodbye if you’re still on.
Amy: Yeah, thanks so much, Steve, and everyone at the National Center for all your support. I especially want to thank all the folks who joined us today and shared their ideas. We hope you will visit us on MyPeers and will continue the sharing, OK? And thanks to Nicole for doing the wonderful songs with her son. Thanks, Nicole.
Nicole: Of course. Thank you so much.Close
Resource Type: Article
National Centers: Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety
Last Updated: December 4, 2023