Healthy eating can be made fun when learning with the Kids Crew!
Our Kids Crew is here to encourage healthier choices and teach children about good nutrition. Kids Crew is based on MyPlate and each Kids Crew character represents a section of the MyPlate.
While not a section of MyPlate, but still an important aspect of nutrition, for limiting unhealthy fats and added sugars, our Kids Crew character is Olive!
Olive enjoys reading and playing chess. She represents Healthy Fats. Her favorite foods are sunflower seeds and walnuts. Olive teaches us about reading the nutrition fact panels and ingredient lists. Olive knows how good nutrition is important in learning and intelligence.
Fat is an essential nutrient:
Fat is an essential nutrient, meaning that we must consume it through the foods we eat and fat plays an important part in keeping us healthy. Forming protective layers around our internal organs, in our brain and as a part of how our body communicates from the nervous system, regulating body temperature, and maintaining skin health are just a few of the ways fat is used in our bodies. While fat is essential, too much can be unhealthy. Fat contains over twice as many calories per gram compared to carbohydrates and protein, so eating excess fat can lead to weight gain if we do not expend those calories. There are different types of fat, some of which are better for us compared to others. When choosing oils, canola, olive, grapeseed, and avocado oils are excellent choices. Use these oils when cooking/baking and look for dressings, marinades, and other foods with these oils instead of ‘vegetable’ oil. While vegetable oil sounds healthy, it is another term for soybean oil. Soybean oil contains a higher amount of a type of fat, Omega-6, that may cause inflammation, so choosing , canola, olive, grapeseed, and avocado oils is a healthier choice.
Common foods that also contain healthy fats:
Nuts, seeds, nut/seed butters, avocados, olives, fish, eggs, and cheese are examples of common foods that also contain healthy fats. More specifically, some foods such as salmon, tuna, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseed also contain a special type of healthy fat called Omega-3. Omega-3 fats are healthy for our hearts and brains, so we should eat salmon and/or tuna twice each week and include walnuts, chia seed, and flaxseed regularly as part of our meals and snacks.
Limit added sugar:
Olive also teaches us to limit added sugar! A good rule of thumb is to choose foods such as granola bars, cereals, and cookies that contain 9 or less grams of added sugar per serving and to only enjoy one serving. A little added sugar can be part of a healthy balanced diet and by choosing foods with 9 or less grams of added sugar, we will consume less added sugar compared to not paying attention at all! Added sugar is listed on the nutrition facts panel, but if in doubt, look at the ingredient list and if you see ‘sugar’, ‘cane sugar’, ‘high fructose corn syrup’, ‘corn syrup’, ‘brown rice syrup’, ‘agave’, ‘maple syrup’, honey’, or any other ‘syrup’ listed, you will know there is added sugar. While honey and maple syrup are seen a healthier options since they are ‘natural’, they still count as added sugar since they are not naturally occurring in the food!