Teach Kids the Power of Protein
By Kerry Alison Wekelo
I was a closet sugar addict until my beloved, witty, holistic acupuncturist called me out on my sugar intake. Because he uses Ayurveda (the science of life), as part of his intake process, he can read my tongue for clues about how my eating is impacting my body. One day, he looked at my tongue and asked, “So, how is your sugar intake?”
I blushed deeply and for the first time, I admitted out loud that I struggle with sugar. He said, “It is an epidemic that most Americans struggle with. Just increase your protein; it will help with your sugar cravings.”
That simple, non-judgmental comment gave me the HOW to curb the cravings, so I started to experiment with eating higher protein meals. Sure enough, more protein helped me stay satisfied -- and away from sugar -- much longer.
Now, as I teach kids, this education is critical, so they can FEEL at their early age the way protein sustains the body. Feeling it out creates empowerment for life-long healthy eating choices.
Step 1: Ask if they know what foods are high in protein. Make a list with them to include high sources of protein such as legumes, black beans, lentils, eggs, nuts, almonds, cashews, seeds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. If they think protein sounds boring, you can turn into a contest of who can list the most protein sources in one minute.
Step 2: Discuss the activity lead in, “We need protein because it builds, takes care of, and replaces the tissues in our body. Our muscles, organs, and immune system are made up of mostly protein.” Ask them:
• Why do you need strong muscles?
• What is your immune system and why is it important?
• What are some examples of Legumes? (lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans, soybeans, peanuts)
• What are your favorite proteins from the list?
Step 3: Experiment with eating a variety of high protein and low protein meals. Track how long you stay full after each meal. You can easily work this around your schedule. For instance:
• One morning eat oatmeal for breakfast. The next morning, try pancakes.
• For a snack, drink a smoothie made with spinach and your favorite fruit. The next snack, try one piece of fruit.
• For dinner, eat beans and broccoli. The next dinner try a pasta dish.
Note: This exercise works well for kids and adults to participate together and discuss results.
Step 4: Talk about feelings that came with eating different foods. How did your stomach feel after eating each food? Your body? Your mood?
TIP: Keep this fun and interactive as you would with any science experiment.
Kerry’s Favorite Smoothie Recipe:
Simply blend the following ingredients in a high-speed blender:
- 2 handfuls of spinach
- ½ cup frozen fruit of any kind (pineapple is my favorite)
- 1 scoop of plant-based protein powder
- 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
- ½ cup of cold water (use more or less to change the thickness)
Kerry Alison Wekelo Mother. Wife. Visionary
Kerry is Award-Winning Author, Founder of Zendoway, Creator of Zendoway Cubes and Managing Director at Actualize Consulting.
In addition to If It Does Not Grow – Just Say No, she has authored “Audrey’s Journey” a children’s book series focused on living with compassion and joy, and “Pile of Smile Activity Book” to give away free while the children undergo treatment.