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Watauga third-graders complete eight-week nutrition course

Article Published: Mar. 29, 2012 | Modified: Mar. 29, 2012
Watauga third-graders complete eight-week nutrition course

Watauga third-graders examine nutrition labels on cereal boxes, learning what to look for and what to avoid, during an eight-week nutrition course with N.C. Cooperative Extension agent Margie Mansure.

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You’ve decided to purchase the healthiest breakfast cereal available. But reading the nutrition fact labels only confuse you. Just ask a third grader for assistance.

Third grade students at Bethel, Cove Creek and Mabel Elementary schools have completed eight weeks of rigorous nutrition study.

One week was on detecting whole grains and how much sugar common cereals contain. We read labels on cereal packages and rated whether the cereals should be enjoyed anytime, sometimes or only on special occasions. It was quickly realized that unsweetened cereal tastes pretty good.

Students learned about making healthy drink choices. The majority considered sports drinks a healthy alternative to soda. It was a sad realization for some that the drinks are unnecessary unless sweating heavily or exercising vigorously for more than two hours. While having slightly less sugar than sodas, they are not a healthy choice for the average kid. Water should be the first drink choice, with low-fat milk and 100-percent juice also ranking highly.

One student at Mabel shared in a note, “I have learned that you need to drink less soda and that you need healthier food. I have changed my sodas and now I only drink one a week. I have enjoyed tasting different types of food.”

We tasted a variety of fruits and vegetables and discussed ways to eat more every day. Children seem to love the flavor of fruit and most raw vegetables, which should cover at least half of their plates.

Another Mabel School student wrote, “I’ve been eating more veggies and drinking more water. I have not been drinking so much Gatorade. I have started reading food labels, changing my diet and eating healthy. I’ve been exercising more.”

Movement comes naturally for the young, who need to be active for a minimum of one hour per day. We discussed ways to be active at various places, including on bad weather days.

Breakfast is an essential meal. Combinations for a healthy breakfast utilizing a fruit, protein or dairy and grain provide balance. Ideas for breakfast generated by third-graders are quite creative.

N.C. Cooperative Extension received funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to assist those eligible for food assistance to eat smart and move more. Three of the four schools eligible for this program in Watauga participated. My colleagues offer school nutrition programs in 57 counties across North Carolina.

This recipe is a healthy breakfast combination that we tasted in class.

Banana Split

½ banana
½ cup vanilla yogurt
½ cup low sugar cereal (5 grams or less per cup)
Berries of choice, fresh or frozen

Scoop yogurt into a bowl.
Cut ½ banana length-wise and place on each side of scooped yogurt.
Top yogurt with cereal and then berries.

Margie Mansure, M.S., R.D. is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and extension agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension. She offers personalized classes to improve the health of citizens in Watauga County through worksites, schools and community groups. For more information, email or call (828) 264-3061.

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