The old saying that knowledge is power is very true when applied to prevention and management of childhood obesity. One of the first things to determine when addressing the problem of obesity is assessing knowledge of a healthy lifestyle. Gaining practical knowledge regarding what foods are healthy and how to increase physical activity is a key first step in the process.

There are, however, still some problems which may occur particularly in learning healthy eating. Finding a solution to that dilemma can be challenge. There are so many diets and diet programs found on the Internet and promoted on TV or other media. Finding the right solution for a child and the whole family can be tough.

The goal when confronted with dilemmas like this one is to find the most direct, simple to implement solution. Diet programs can be challenging to count calories or understand portion sizes. A simple tool used in our practice by our dieticians at Cook Children’s is the “go, slow, whoa diet plan.”

The diet grew out of the CATCH program in 1987 and is still an ongoing, school-based health promotion program. Close to home successes in Texas include, most recently, in Travis county.

The plan uses very basic information to help children and their families know which food choices are healthy. Portion sizes are also discussed, but the main focus is on simply choosing healthy food. The concept of simplicity in meal planning has gained prominence as the USDA changed from the mypyramid guide to the simpler format of myplate. The go, slow, whoa diet continues this trend. Practical examples of use of this powerful tool are highlighted below in text and video.

Go foods – lowest in fat, added sugar, and calories. Example – an apple

Slow foods – contain some fat, higher sugar, and calories. Eat sometimes. Example – mashed potatoes with butter.

Whoa foods – highest in fat, added sugar, and calories. Eat once in a while. Example – donuts.

Although, knowledge is power. It is ultimately the power of choice for families and children to use the abundance of tools out there to make healthy changes in the family.

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