‘Awaken Your Taste Buds’ grocery tour teaches kids about healthy eating

Shawn Hardy
Nickie Fickel, Summit Health community health coordinator, helps youngsters understand the labels on some of their favorite breakfast foods during a National Nutrition Month grocery store tour at Shop ’n Save in Greencastle on Tuesday. For video, visit echo-pilot.com.

Youngsters from eight families got a lesson in healthful food choices during a tour of Shop ’n Save in Greencastle Tuesday evening.

The tour was part of Summit Health’s National Nutrition Month “Awaken Your Taste Buds” campaign.

Christy Mills and her son, Newman, 11, took the tour to learn more about the nutrition of food. Some of Newman’s favorite foods are apples and carrots, and he likes peas, too, so he was right at home when Nickie Fickel, Summit’s community health coordinator, asked the children to go pick out their favorite fruits and vegetables in the produce section.

Maicey Raymos, 8, on the tour with her father, Corey, carefully selected a bunch of broccoli.

“Wow, look at all these different colors,” Fickel said when the group reassembled. “I see a lot of carrots and strawberries.”

She explained some of the health benefits of different fruits and vegetables, noting that “carrots help us see and strawberries help the immune system.”

Healthy snacks using fruits and vegetables also were discussed, such as blueberries in yogurt, carrots with hummus and apples with peanut butter.

The kids — and their parents — got a wakeup call in the breakfast aisle. Asked to pick out their favorite breakfast foods, they came back with boxes of cereal, pancake mix and granola bars.

Most did list whole grains as the first ingredient, which Fickel said is important because whole grains help people think better and aid in digestion. However, many favorites had sugar listed as the second ingredient.

“Moms and Dads need to watch out,” she cautioned.

The granola bars are a blend of grains and the second ingredient is not sugar so Fickel said they are a good choice.

Popcorn is a whole grain and is a good snack choice if not loaded with butter and salt, Fickel added, before leading the group to the meal aisle to talk about proteins, which also include nuts, beans and eggs.

Then it was off to the dairy section “because kids your age need about three servings a day.”

Lots of hands raised when Fickel asked, “Who likes yogurt?” It was another opportunity for her to point out that labels are important and some yogurt has a lot of sugar.

“Stay away from the ones with Oreos on top,” she advised, before reviewing the options the children learned on the tour and giving them each $10 to spend on healthy snacks.

Tuesday’s tour in Greencastle was one of several offered around the county this month. Participants all received a folder with handouts, worksheets and information for parents.

“The best way to instill good eating habits in children is to lead by example and start teaching them at a young age,” according to Barb Van Meerbeke, a registered dietitian nutritionist with Summit Endocrinology. “Allowing them to pick out healthy foods at the store and make them a part of grocery shoppings often translates to more excitement at the dinner table.”