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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Power of Choice at Thomson Elementary Part III: Trying new (and healthy) foods

This winter, DC SCORES intern Molly Fessler is spending time with the Thomson Tigers during the Power of Choice health and nutrition season. Each week, Molly is reporting on the activities the Tigers take part in as part of the winter curriculum and the progress the elementary school students make in learning how to take care of themselves and eat healthy. View a full gallery of pictures from Thomson on the DC SCORES Flickr page. 

By Molly Fessler
DC SCORES intern

Today we’re trying new things. I talk with the Tigers about one of their favorite parts of the Winter SCORES Power of Choice program — snack day!

Every Friday, the Tigers work with their coaches to make a yummy (and healthy!) snack. This past week, the team worked together to create a 'giant sandwich,' a treat that has taken on a rather mythical life when described by its creators.

"It was the biggest one ever," Sara tells me, extending her arms, to indicate a sandwich length of approximately 4 feet.

“Wow, really?” I’m impressed. Obviously.

"Yes, and it was made of salad," adds Jucelin C. “It was healthy to eat it because it had a lot of vegetables in it.”

The sandwich also boasted tomatoes, cheese, lettuce and carrots.

"Oh yeah, and hummus too, I think...” Arlette remembers.

The Tigers have made other snacks — oatmeal cookies, peanut butter sandwiches, fruit salad and more. Part of learning how to cook involves learning how to make choices in the kitchen. Not just how much to eat, but how to incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables into a balanced, soccer-playing-ready diet. For some members of the Thomson team, the winter session of DC SCORES has introduced them to new foods; foods that sometimes can be kind of a challenge to swallow.

Junior R. tells me that it can be hard to try new vegetables. I empathize. I ask Chelsea C. if she struggles with new veggies, and she says, “Sometimes, but when you try a vegetable you didn’t like, sometimes you actually do like it.”

“Really?” I ask, “Has that happened to you before?”

“Yep! With broccoli. I didn’t like it, but I tried it again and now I do.”

Junior R. doesn’t let the initial anxiety prevent him from trying the snacks.

“They’re healthy to eat … good for your stomach,” he says.

I’ve had a long-standing phobia of baby carrots. Should I give them another go?

“Probably,” recommends Chelsea.

I’m not sure I’m ready for such a huge leap of faith, but I’m motivated by the Tigers. Trying new things is difficult for everyone, and being brave enough to make different choices about food and exercise is a big deal — especially when you’re 10 years old. The Thomson Tigers are developing an understanding of how to eat to be strong and healthy, and to bring their best game to the soccer field.

And they’re also finding that when you try new things, sometimes you find new favorite things.

“I love tomatoes,” Junior R. tells me.

I’m a fan of avocados, personally.

“Avocados! Yeah! That’s my second favorite!”

With inspiration like that, maybe I can give those carrots another try.

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