PLACING HER TRUST in Eastern Oregon University student Jeff Roy, blindfolded Island City Elementary fourth-grader Cassie Rosenbalm attempts to tastefully identify a sample of mystery fruit as she participates in one of the many interactive food activities of a Nutrition and Family Fun Night at Island City Elementary presented by students of OHSU and EOU Wednesday evening. CHRIS BAXTER / The Observer
Children learn about healthy eating habits
Visualizing tennis balls, cards and dice at each meal can help you improve your health.
This is one of the tips people attending a nutrition-based family fun night at Island City Elementary School received Wednesday night. Tips aimed at tipping the scales in the fight against childhood obesity.
The overall objective of the program was to introduce people, especially children, to alternatives for healthier eating, said Emily Parker, one of the leaders of the family fun night.
Parker is a student at the Oregon Health Science University School of Nursing at EOU, which helped put on the family fun night with Union County Fit Kids and Eastern.
The people attending the event learned that health experts say that at each meal it is best to:
• eat a serving of fruit or vegetables at least the size of a tennis ball.
• consume a serving of protein about as big as a deck of cards.
• eat a cube of cheese no bigger than a single dice or drink eight ounces of milk.
People attending the family fun night also were introduced to healthy and tasty food and drink alternatives.
They learned, for example, that instead of consuming a soft drink, they could treat themselves to an equally tasty seltzer mixed with 100 percent fruit juice.
This drink would be preferable to soda pop because it has far less sugar. The amount of sugar in soft drinks is considerable.
This point was hammered home at the family fun night, where a plastic bag filled with the amount of sugar a typical soft drink has was displayed next to a pop can.
“It was more than you would think it would have,’’ Parker said.
The Blubber Burger booth also had a disturbing display. It showed the amount of fat that is in a typical hamburger at a popular fast food chain.
Shortening served as the symbol of this fat. The shortening was spread over a hamburger bun and it was a half-inch to an inch think. Parker said a number of children found the amount of fat they saw disturbing.
Visitors were introduced to new fruits in unconventional fashion at the Mystery Fruit booth. They were blindfolded and then given common fruits such as pears and apples to taste and identify and less commonly known fruits such as mangoes.
A usual vegetable booth was also in place. Children made superhero figures and cars with carrots, broccoli, celery and otter vegetables.
An alternative dessert booth also was in operation at the family fun night.
Booth visitors were shown how to make delicious fruit and yogurt parfaits, which they can eat instead of sugar laden desserts like chocolate cake.
Each child who came to the family fun night received a gift bag with measuring spoons, a measuring cup, healthy food recipes and more, Parker said.
Parker was one of a number of university students who helped put on the family fun night. Also assisting were OHSU School of Nursing at EOU students Elizabeth Simpson and Jennifer Wing; and Eastern students Cody Allen, Carrie Laurence and Courtney Nakashima.
The students received direction from Zach Heath, an instructor for EOU’s college of education and Nancy Findholt and Linda Densmore of OHSU School of Nursing at EOU.
Findholt was the chief organizer of the nutrition-based family fun night with between 100 and 150 people attending.
Parker said the response was so good that its organizers hope to offer the program at other Grande Ronde Valley elementary schools.
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