The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Go Foods, Slow Foods, and Whoa Foods

My students and I had an interesting conversation this morning about food and physical fitness. As part of our building’s new Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) program, we are placing a larger emphasis on not just physical activity but also on healthy lifestyles in general. This has always been a component of our physical education/health curriculum, but CATCH will provide us with the resources we need to make it truly meaningful to our students.

The conversation about food focused on the three basic categories we can put food into: Go Foods, Slow Foods, and Whoa Foods. Several of the students had already heard these terms from parents or from their participation with the FitKids program offered by the University of Illinois. I really like these categories because they emphasise that there is no such thing as “good” food and “bad” food, but rather food that should be eaten in higher quantities and food that should be eaten in lower quantities. The basic standard to follow is this: Eat more Go Foods than Slow Foods and more Slow Foods than Whoa Foods. Pretty simple, right?

So what do these different categories actually mean? Go Foods are things like lean meat, poultry, and fish that have been grilled or baked, not fried. Things like fruits and vegetables, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, whole grains, and high fiber foods. Slow foods are things like fried chicken, 2% milk, white bread or pasta made from refined flour, tacos, French toast, or pancakes. Whoa Foods are things like cake, cookies, ice cream, meat with high fat content, and canned fruits in heavy syrup.

To provide examples of these, I showed the student three different kinds of snacks I had in my desk: Fruit and grain cereal bars (a Go Food), chewy granola bars with chocolate chips (a Slow Food), and Swiss cake rolls (a Whoa Food). We discussed what made all of these foods different and what we could learn by looking at the packages. We wrapped up our conversation by talking about the types of foods students will be encouraged to bring to school for birthday treats. Instead of full-size cupcakes with lots of frosting, we would like students to bring fresh fruit, muffins, small cupcakes, cookies, or other foods that are Go Foods or Slow Foods. We will have Whoa Foods at our class parties, but only with plenty of Go Foods and Slow Foods, as well.

I really like the overall approach that this program presents. The students understand what the categories mean and are becoming more aware of the food that they eat at home and at school. There is a lot more to the CATCH program, of course, but this was a great way to get us started!

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