WHOA Foods, SLOW Foods, GO! Foods

Adults 50 Plus Teach Youngsters to Eat Healthier

It’s an age-old problem. You know your children should be eating more fruits, vegetables and lower-fat foods, but how do you convince them to push away the French fries and doughnuts in favor of an apple or carrot sticks?

The answer? At two schools here in the Hartford a number of adults 50 and older are volunteering their time and knowledge to teach kids the difference between WHOA foods, SLOW foods and GO! Foods. They are part of CATCH Healthy Habits, a unique intergenerational health program which pairs adults 50-plus with children to encourage healthier eating and physical activity.

Current program sites include the Global Communications Academy on Greenfield Street and at the Batchelder Elementary School on New Britain Ave. There are plans to expand to more sites in the summer and fall.

The volunteers work with children in kindergarten through the fifth grade in weekly one-hour sessions to play active games, make healthy snacks and learn about food choices like WHOA, SLOW and GO foods.

WHOA foods are those that contain a lot of salt, unhealthy fats or added sugars—sometimes all three. Examples include whole milk, ice cream, butter, French fries, candy bars, fried meats and potato chips.

GO foods contain very little salt, unhealthy fats or added sugars—sometimes none at all. Examples include fruits and vegetables, fat-free or 1 percent plain milk, foods made with whole grains, broiled fish, baked chicken and lean meats.

SLOW foods are in between GO foods and WHOA foods and may include 2 percent plain milk, fat-free or 1 percent flavored milk, white bread and rice, pancakes, baked chicken nuggets and fruits canned in light syrup.

“The goal for anyone providing snacks or meals to children should be to help them eat fewer WHOA foods and to get them excited about more SLOW and GO foods,” said Renee Hamel, who serves as CATCH Healthy Habits coordinator with Community Renewal Team, Inc. (CRT). CRT and it’s Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) partners with OASIS, an education organization that introduced CATCH Healthy Habits to area children starting in 2011 through a grant from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation.

CATCH Healthy Habits uses simple but innovative recipes with catchy names to convince children to try healthier foods. Celery sticks topped with low-fat cream cheese and raisins becomes Ants on a Log. Cubes of cheese and cut-up fruit are speared on toothpicks to become Dynamite Sticks. Graham crackers, low-fat cottage cheese, raisins and a touch of cinnamon are combined to create Cracker Delight.

“Most kids are reluctant to try a new food, especially if it’s presented as something healthy,” said Hamel. “The key is to make it fun by combining different tastes and giving snacks fun and unusual names. What child wouldn’t be intrigued to try Ants on a Log?”

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly one-in-three children in the United States are overweight or obese, increasing their risk of becoming overweight adults with chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and asthma. Additionally, obesity rates for older adults have doubled in the last 30 years, increasing rates of chronic disease and reducing quality of life for millions of Americans. Approximately 60 percent of adults age 50-plus do not meet the CDC's recommended physical activity standards.

“The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation supports programs to get people healthy and provide them with the tools to stay healthy,” said Eina G. Fishman, MD, MS, CPE, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Chief Medical Director. “We know that unhealthy lifestyles and poor eating habits are the main reasons for America’s obesity epidemic and the associated health problems. Through programs like CATCH Healthy Habits, we hope to teach children and their parents new, healthy lifestyles. The program also benefits the adults who volunteer, as studies have shown that those who spend their retired years in volunteer activities live longer, healthier lives.”

Support for CATCH Healthy Habits is part of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation’s ongoing commitment to help Connecticut residents become and stay healthy. Promoting healthy lifestyles and addressing increasing rates of obesity are focus areas of the Foundation.

The grant from the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation for CATCH Healthy Habits in Hartford is part of a $2.7 million grant from Anthem’s parent company’s Foundation to OASIS that is expanding the program across the country.

Hamel is still looking for volunteers to start in the spring, and those interested are encouraged to contact her at 860.760.3087, or hamelr@crtct.org.




Food Groups


Examples of WHOA Foods


Examples of SLOW Foods


Examples of GO Foods



      Fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables made with solid fats

      Fried battered vegetables

      Fried potatoes, fried French fries, fried hash browns


      Fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables made with vegetable oils

      Vegetables with salt and/or sugar added

      Baked French fries and hash browns

      100% vegetable juice


      Fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables with no salt, sugar, or fat added, or with a small amount of salt* added

      100 percent low-sodium vegetable juice

Fruits & Fruit Juices


      Fruits canned in heavy syrup

      Fruit roll-ups


      Fruits canned in light syrup

      Fruits with sugar and/or salt added

      Sherbet, sorbet

      Frozen fruit juice bars and smoothies with added sugar

      Dried fruit with added sugar


      Fresh, frozen, or canned fruits with no sugar or salt added, or with a small amount of salt* added

      100 percent fruit juice

      Frozen 100 percent fruit juice bars and smoothies

      Dried fruit (such as raisins, figs, dates, apricots, plums)





      Sweet rolls


      Muffins, waffles, pancakes, and French toast made with solid fats

      Fried rice

      High-sugar cereals made with refined grains

      Granola made with solid fats

      Potato chips, cheese puffs, corn chips



      Popcorn made with solid fats and flavored popcorn


      White bread, buns, rolls,

      bagels, tortillas, pita



      Muffins, waffles, pancakes, and French toast made with vegetable oils

      Pasta made with refined flour

      White rice

      Low-sugar cereals made with refined grains

      Granola made with vegetable oils

      Instant oatmeal

      Low-fat crackers made with refined grains

      Tortilla chips

      Baked potato chips


      Animal crackers made with refined flour

      Vanilla wafers

      Cereal/fruit bars

      Popcorn made with vegetable oils and/or salt


      Whole-grain bread, buns, rolls, bagels, tortillas, and pita bread

      Pasta made with whole-grain

      Brown rice

      Wild rice

      Whole-grain, low-sugar cereals (such as toasted oats, shredded wheat, oatmeal, muesli)

      Low-fat whole-grain crackers

      Baked tortilla chips

      Whole-grain animal crackers

      Graham crackers

      Air-popped popcorn with no salt added



      Whole milk Flavored 2 percent (reduced-fat) milk


      Whole-milk yogurt

      Processed cheese

      Cream cheese

      Cheese sauce

      Cottage cheese (whole-milk)

      Sour cream

      Ice cream

      Pudding made with 2 percent or whole milk


      Frozen yogurt



      Flavored fat-free or 1 percent milk

      Fat-free/low-fat yogurt

      Natural cheeses (Colby, cheddar, Swiss)

      Cottage cheese (2 percent or reduced-fat)

      Low-fat cheese sauce

      Low-fat cream cheese

      String cheese

      Low-fat sour cream

      Non-fat or low-fat frozen yogurt

      Low-fat ice cream

      Pudding made with skim or 1% milk


      Fat-free (skim/nonfat) milk

      1 percent (low-fat) milk

      Non-fat dry milk

      Fat-free or low-fat plain or 100 percent fruit juice-sweetened yogurt

      Part-skim natural cheese

      Low-fat (1 percent) cottage cheese

Meat, Beans & Eggs


      Beans, peas, and lentils made with solid fats

      Baked beans, canned

      Pork and beans, canned

      Peanuts, almonds, pecans, walnuts, and pistachios with added salt, sugar, and/or fat

      Peanut butter and other nut butters with added salt, sugar, and/or fat

      Eggs fried in solid fats

      Fried fish, shellfish, and fish sticks

      Fried chicken

      Fried chicken nuggets

      Regular ground beef

      Regular hamburgers



      Ham hock

      Pork skins

      Hot dogs



      Beef jerky






      Beans, peas, and lentils with vegetable oils

      Refried beans



      Peanuts, almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews, pistachios with no added salt, sugar, or fat

      Natural peanut butter

      Eggs fried in vegetable oil

      Baked breaded fish, shellfish, fish sticks

      Tuna canned in oil

      Chicken and turkey with skin (baked, grilled, or broiled)

      Breaded baked chicken and turkey

      Baked chicken nuggets

      Ground chicken and turkey

      Lean ground beef

      Regular cuts of beef (brisket, T-bone, chuck roast)

      Lean ham

      Canadian bacon

      Regular cuts of pork (pork roast, ham)

      “Veggie” burger

      Luncheon meats (chicken, turkey, ham)

      Low-fat hot dogs


      Beans (such as pinto, black, red, garbanzo), peas (such as black-eyed, split, purple hull), and lentils – with no salt or fat added, or with a small amount of salt* added

      Pumpkin and sunflower seeds with no added salt, sugar, or fat

      Whole eggs

      Egg whites

      Egg Substitute

      Fish and shellfish – baked, grilled or


      Tuna canned in water

      Chicken and turkey

      without skin

      Lean cuts of beef

      Extra-lean ground beef

      Ground beef that has been drained and rinsed

      Lean cuts of pork (pork chops or tenderloin –

      without fat)