There is nothing cuter than a team of 6 year-old Little Leaguers chasing baseballs and picking dandelions in the outfield. But what is not so cute are those same kids lining up for an after game “snack” of packaged cookies, with an ingredient list taller than then they are, accompanied by day glow sports drinks doled out by an innocent looking well-intentioned team parent!
As a mother in a family committed to a lifestyle of eating healthy foods, enjoying exercise, and contributing to community, I experienced one of “those” parenting moments. I didn’t want to make a scene and forbid these “treats” and at the same time I didn’t want to condone their eating. I wanted my kids to make the healthy choice. And I wanted them to know why!
It became apparent to me that I would need to generate a strategy to fully empower my 2 sons to make good food choices, especially when I realized that I wouldn’t be at every sporting event, birthday party or play date, let alone be around for the rest of their lives!
Inspired, I became a Holistic Nutritionist and developed a science based food and eating philosophy called The Food Tree Guide To Holistic Nutrition, incorporating my version of The Five Food Groups and the integration of the Mind, Body, and Spirit.
The Food Tree and The Five Food Groups symbolically relates to 5 parts of a tree and teaches children what foods they need to eat, how much, and why those foods are good for their bodies.
The Food Tree and The Five Food Groups
Proteins - The Roots- Recommended Daily Serving: 5
The roots of a healthy tree are grounded firmly in the earth. The roots are so strong that they keep a whole tree standing balanced and secure. That is the exact function that proteins have in our bodies. Foods high in amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, keep the brain and emotions balanced and stable just as the roots do for the tree. Proteins are also critical components for growth and repair, immune function and detoxification.
Whole Grains – The Trunk - Recommended Daily Serving: 5
Imagine that a tree trunk is like the torso of the body. Eating whole grains keeps the trunk of our body standing strong yet flexible. Whole grains provide rich stores of energy from naturally occurring complex carbohydrates. They also supply the body with essential vitamins, minerals and valuable fiber.
Healthy Fats -The Branches- Recommended Daily Serving: 3+
Like branches of a tree that reach out to the whole canopy, fats in our bodies are vitally important components because they make up the outer membrane of every cell. Fats help our bodies absorb fat-soluble vitamins, provide energy, regulate body temperature and make hormones.
Vegetables- The Leaves - Recommended Daily Serving: 5
Like leaves on trees that show signs of health, vegetables are full of vital life giving energy and health promoting nutrients. Vegetables are packed with minerals, vitamins and an amazing variety of antioxidants.
Fruit-The Fruit- Recommended Daily Serving: 3
Fruits symbolize fertility and abundance. They provide us with invaluable vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that fight illness and contribute to our overall health and wellbeing.
I have been working for the past few years to develop curriculum based on The Food Tree along with manufacturing experiential educational tools including The Food Tree Magnetic Boards. These Boards come with over 100 food and activity magnets and are designed for use in homes, health practitioner’s offices, and school’s to foster healthy eating.
I designed The Food Tree Guide To Holistic Nutrition as a way to teach my own kids how to empower themselves to navigate the crazy food world they are bombarded with. Children in America view over 11,000 junk food commercials annually and according to a 2010 study at Yale University the influence of these commercials on children directly correlates to obesity and unhealthy eating habits.
I believe that when children have a solid understanding of nutrition, they will be better able to take care of themselves by making good eating decisions. My goal and intention is to share The Food Tree Guide with kids across America so they can enjoy good nourishing quality foods and understand the reasons why. If you, too, want to move from being a spectator in the stands to making a real difference in the way American kids eat, get out your Food Tree and start climbing!
Jill Troderman is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, Food Educator, Health blogger and creator of The Food Tree Guide to Holistic Nutrition and Food Tree Magnetic Boards. She lives with her family in Santa Cruz, CA. www.SantaCruzHolisticNutrition.com