All the kids line up and you have one designated as the 'traffic light' that stands a good way out from the line of kids with her back to the group. The 'traffic light' kid will yell, 'red, yellow or green light!' and depending on the color yelled out, depends on how fast you navigate out to the 'traffic light.' The one who makes it to the traffic light first, wins the game. But the most important rule is 'red light' means STOP! Put on the brakes and stop as fast as you can. If you don't, and you keep moving, you are out of the game. 'Green light' means run like heck and get as far as you can in the time that you are given. 'Yellow light' means you better move forward with caution because at any moment the 'traffic light' is going to change their mind and probably yell 'red light!' Well, in my experience, the hardest part of this game is when the traffic light yells, 'RED LIGHT' and you happen to be running off a 'green light' and you have to stop on a dime.... stopping on a dime was never my specialty..... Many a childhood friend have been bowled over by me as the poor souls just happened to be in front of me when that traffic light yelled 'RED LIGHT!' and they stopped in their tracks and well... let's just say.... I didn't.
So fast forward 37 years.... As an adult, I'm still not very good at stopping on a dime when Life yells, 'RED LIGHT!'
Enter Dr. Oz [yes, the famous Dr. Mehmet Oz - the one with his own popular TV show.] Last week he had the trainers from the also popular 'Biggest Loser' on his show talking about past Biggest Loser participants, weight loss tips, etc. They were also discussing the newest contestants on this years Biggest Loser... children. I almost turned off the TV when they started talking about the kids. Childhood obesity is a very, very serious problem here in America. But the reason I almost turned it off is because for me, this topic is an Onion Layer. Yes... you read that right. Onion Layer. [For me, there are parts of losing weight that are like peeling an onion. It's not fun. You are not going to enjoy it. It's going to make you cry, sometimes for no reason. There are layers upon layers of 'stuff' you have to face and peel off if you are going to get through the why's of your weight gain to be able to get to the how's of the weight loss.] So growing up an overweight child and now watching my very own child start to show the very same patterns that I was showing at that age... it's an Onion Layer for me.
As bad as I wanted to turn that channel.. I didn't. Maybe I would learn something that would help me... help me with my son so he would be able to grow up on a different path than me and not following right behind me on the same path.... Although I have always been very careful about using the word, 'diet' or 'weight loss'.. simply from observation, he has picked up on what it means to count calories and he will ask how many calories something has in it. The last thing I want is a child obsessed with 'calorie counting or dieting!!' I needed something simpler. I needed something that would give my son more control over what he ate and take the control out of our hands so it didn't seem like we controlled what he ate every single time!! Something he could really understand..... GAHH! I was racking my brain to find a solution to help us......
Man oh man... am I glad I didn't turn that channel!!!! So, enter Joanna Dolgoff, author of 'Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right: The Food Solution That Lets Kids Be Kids.' Her theory is teach kids the different 'colors' of foods.
-Green foods, which are items that are good to eat ANY TIME. These would include all vegetables (without sauces), fresh or frozen fruit, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean meat.
-Yellow foods are those that can be eaten sometimes, peanut butter, vegetables in sauce, fruit juice, grains that are not whole (such as pancakes and waffles), processed cheese, nuts, hot dogs and hamburger meat, and low-fat desserts or condiments.
-The Red foods are ones that we are supposed to eat on rare occasions, and they include french fries, any fried dough, pastry, cookies, cakes, pies, ice cream, crackers, fried food, bacon and other fatty meat, gravy, heavy condiments, and sugared drinks of various kinds. [So basically anything that will provide comfort on really bad days!]
This concept seemed so simple to me. Could it work? Would he 'get it?' So... I talked with my son about it. And what do ya know.. he grasped the concept immediately. We listed out the different 'colors' of food and agreed as a family that we would do our best to 'live a healthier life.'
Now let me just add a disclaimer here: ***I have NOT read Joanna Dolgoff's book... yet. I am not promoting her or her book in any way. What I am promoting is a great idea and way of life as the concept of listing foods in colored categories in a way that is simple and easy for a child or adult to understand.
Since we have been using the colors for our food choices, the battle that waged daily in our home over food choices has virtually disappeared. My son is 6 years old and I have seen him make more healthy choices than I have made in my adult life and I cannot tell you how happy it makes me feel!! He is able to make the choices himself and is learning what it means to choose the healthy, wise choice. He is learning that food should be chosen based on the 'good' it does for your body, not always by how good it tastes.
If you have been struggling with teaching your children about healthy choices, I highly recommend this simple concept. It really does work.
We now have a brand new path to go down together as a family and I am excited to see the changes it will make with all of us!
On a 'me' note, it's been a great two weeks with an 11 pounds loss thus far in January! Onward and upward we continue to go...