I recently came across an article outlining a new health program for school-aged children that I geniulely believe will work.
While the food pyramid and D.A.R.E were valiant efforts at helping young students navigate healthy lifestyle choices, they weren't realistic or engaging. This new program, CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) is different because is focuses on behavior change and decision making.
For example, let's take a look at their nutrition system called "GO, SLOW, WOAH."
This organizational system puts foods into general categories based on how often and how much you should eat.
So, foods that you can eat pretty much anytime and in larger quantities are a part of the "GO" category. This includes foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains. In nutritionist-speak these would be considered nutrient-dense foods.
The "SLOW" category is foods that should be consumed sometimes, but not as often as the "GO" foods. Foods in the "SLOW" category include refined flour products (pasta, rice, pancakes), ground beef, and nuts.
And finally, there's the "WOAH" category. These foods are intended to be treats, and only consumed once-in-a-while. As you can imagine, these foods include fried food, cookies, soda, and doughnuts. These foods are the most calorie-dense and often least nutrient-dense food options.
I absolutely love this system. It is easy to understand and does not forbid any category of food. Teaching this system to children will hopefully help them navigate food choices with moderation in mind.
But it's not just for children. The same type of list can be used for adults. For example, you would put all alcohol in the "WOAH" category.
You can further regulate your eating by specifying how often or how much of your diet will come from each category. A good starting place is 80% GO foods, 15% SLOW foods, and 5% WOAH foods.
You can find a more complete list of the "GO, SLOW, WOAH" foods here. You can post them on your fridge or bring them with you to the grocery store to help you learn.
Elementary school teaches valuable lessons in sharing and friendship, why not also in healthy behaviors. The longer a person practices a habit, the more likely they are to continue it. So let's all work on practicing good habits, starting with this new food system!