My 9-year-old daughter came home from 4th grade this week quite upset about the amount of saturated fat in her diet. She read a few paragraphs during an assignment that told her saturated fats cause heart disease. Around our kitchen, she was frantically reading nutrition labels and rejecting foods like margarine and peanut butter.
Like any parent, I’m anxious when my kids ask the “big questions” in life that I’m not always sure how to answer correctly and age-appropriately. It hadn’t occurred to me that one of those questions might be “But mom, what IS a healthy food?”
Talking about healthy food is much bigger than what my family is choosing to eat for dinner. Our food choices are impacted by the amount of our household budget we can spend on food, the time and knowledge and skills and interest we have in shopping and preparing foods, and especially by the community that we live in, including food options within our schools and workplaces, and local, state and federal laws about farming and food products.
Who is qualified to answer these nutrition questions?
- Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) are food and nutrition experts who have met criteria to earn the RDN credential. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers a website for consumers and makes “Find a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist” available to the general public to provide access to basic information about participants. I started my daughter with articles like “The Basics of the Nutrition Facts Label” and “Teach Your Teen About Food Labels” to help her understand the bigger picture of nutrition.
- Choose MyPlate is the U.S. government’s primary food group symbol to help consumers adopt healthy eating habits consistent with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
- “Nutrition Tips for Kids” provides a simple overview from FamilyDoctor.org by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Where can we learn more about local food issues in Shawnee County?
View the one-page infographics created from the Community Food System Assessment.
- The Food System in Shawnee County
- Food Production in Shawnee County
- Food Infrastructure in Shawnee County
- Food Retail in Shawnee County
- Food Access in Shawnee County
- Food Consumption in Shawnee County
- Food Waste in Shawnee County
- Equity in The Food System in Shawnee County
- Economic Impact of the Food System in Shawnee County
I’m happy to report that after I brought home Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan, my daughter showed it to me excitedly, pointing to the table of contents, and said “Mom, look! Everything you need to know is basically right here.”
Not too much.”
We’re on the right track to continue these conversations, learning and reading and using library resources to continue to understand the complicated answers to her simple question “What’s a Healthy Food?”