Last week, the EATWISE interns went to the Monterey Community Center to teach the youth there about sugar and its place in a healthy diet. My co-leader Melissa and I had the incredible opportunity to give the lesson, portions of which appeared on the news!
For one of the activities, we handed out small cups and sugar packets. The cups were labeled with the names of different beverages and foods, as well as the number of teaspoons of sugar each item contained. We asked the participants to pour the correct amount of sugar into each cup and then had them line up in order, based on whose cup held the least amount of sugar.
We explained the difference between natural sugars, which are found naturally in fruit, milk and some vegetables, and added sugars, which are found in most processed foods. A big part of our lesson was the comparison of an orange to “100% orange juice” and an ”orange-flavored drink.” The children quickly understood as we discussed why an orange was far healthier than orange-flavored drink.
When asked why sugar from the orange was better than sugar from a soft drink, we explained how natural sugar is paired with essential vitamins and fiber, while added sugar is often found in food and beverages that have little to no nutritional value.
Afterward, we played a game called “Go, Slow, Woah.” ”Go” foods can be eaten in any amount, because they are whole foods. ”Slow” foods are minimally processed and should not be eaten as often as whole foods. ”Woah” foods are highly processed and should be eaten as little as possible. The participants were mostly correct when they categorized each food or drink, stumbling on only a few that were reasonably tricky. After the lesson, we helped provide a meal to the youth at the community center, handing out packed lunches prepared by Chef Max Hardy. When we had to say goodbye, everyone was excited to take pictures and sad to see us go. It felt great to inspire our peers to eat healthy foods and look out for natural sugar.
Annie is an Ambassadors for EATWISE (Educated and Aware Teens Who Inspire Smart Eating), a Food Bank for New York City nutrition education program.