Time to Lose Weight? Act Like a Third Grader

Catch Healthy Habits in the New Year
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You’ve made yet another New Year’s resolution to lose those holiday pounds, but do you really have a strategy to do so? If you really want to stick to your plan this year, maybe it’s time to think like a grade schooler and catch some healthy habits.

For example, can you learn to love a snack of celery instead of soda and cookies? Maybe so, if you try it topped with low-fat cream cheese and raisins, a treat known to kids as Ants on a Log. Cubes of cheese and cut-up fruit speared on toothpicks become Dynamite Sticks. Graham crackers, low-fat cottage cheese, raisins and a touch of cinnamon combine to create Cracker Delight.

“Breaking old habits, such as automatically reaching for the same sweet snack foods, is tough,” admitted Marcia Kerz, president of The OASIS Institute, a national education organization. “Most of us are reluctant to change, especially if it means giving up the things we love to eat. So the key to keeping your New Year’s resolution is to make healthy foods fun by combining different tastes and giving snacks unusual names. We’ve shown that it works for both kids and adults all over the country.”

CATCH Healthy Habits is sponsored by the OASIS Institute, which partners with local schools, youth clubs and other organizations to bring the program to area children. Locally, CATCH Healthy Habits is operated by the Senior Services of Albany and funded by a grant from the Empire BlueCross Foundation.

The program pairs adult volunteers ages 50 and older with children in kindergarten through the fifth grade to encourage healthier eating and physical activity. Weekly one-hour sessions include active games, healthy snacks and education about food choices that will help anyone reach their goals.

“CATCH Healthy Habits focuses on learning the differences among WHOA, SLOW and GO foods,” said Kerz. WHOA foods are those that contain a lot of salt, unhealthy fats or added sugars and should be avoided. SLOW foods are somewhat healthier and may include lower fat milks, white bread and rice, pancakes, and fruits canned in light syrup. Best of all are GO foods that contain very little salt, unhealthy fats or added sugars—sometimes none at all. Examples of GO foods include fruits and vegetables, foods made with whole grains, broiled fish, baked chicken and lean meats.

“If each of us asked ourselves whether we are looking at a Whoa, Slow or Go food before we take a bite, odds are we’ll be more selective in what we eat,” said Ethel Graber, VP and GM, Empire BlueCross. “That’s the first step to a healthier lifestyle.”

“Nearly one in three children in this country are overweight or obese, and obesity rates for older adults have doubled in the last 30 years,” she added. “A decline in physical activity and unhealthy eating styles are the principal causes. Through programs like CATCH Healthy Habits, we hope to teach people of all ages that they can improve their food choices and still enjoy what they are eating.”

For more information about the OASIS Institute, visit their website at oasisnet.org. For more information about Empire Blue, click here.