Planet Power!

After a month of almost no rain, it’s been cold and rainy all weekend.  Yesterday we had one of D’s friends over for a sleepover, and went to the Children’s Rain Garden in Arlington and saw the new Wallace and Gromit movie.  Today, we had pancakes for breakfast, and then the boys ran all over the house hunting rabbits.  We ran a few errands after the friend went home, and then T and I were pretty much wiped.

In the interest of distracting D, and maybe getting him to eat an occasional vegetable, I offered him a new computer game — MyPyramid Blast Off, from the fine folks at the US Department of Agriculture.  In order to make the rocket blast off and travel to Planet Power!, you have to pick an assortment of foods that equals the right number of portions from the different food groups, without overloading your "fuel tanks" by eating too many calories.  Sounds thrilling, no?

D was actually quite intrigued by the game, even though it’s about as basic as you can get.  (I suspect kids in the official target age range (6-12) would be bored stiff.)  The only big problem we had was that it really did require one of us to sit with him the whole time and read the choices, so it didn’t give us quite as much of a break as we had hoped.   On the nutritional front, I’d rate it about a B:

  • It did help us talk to D about the need to eat a bigger variety of foods, including some vegetables.  We’ve been floundering a bit trying to explain to him why we don’t want him to eat peanut butter on graham crackers for 3 meals a day, even if it is a reasonably healthy food.
  • He was willing to try a carrot stick at dinner this evening.  He only ate about 2 bites of it, but he claimed to like it.  So that’s a good thing.

On the negative side:

  • They were pushing the low-fat options pretty hard, including praising a choice of non-fat chocolate milk over the 2% fat milk that we serve the boys.  Given the overall mix of his diet, the fat is a better choice than the extra sugar.
  • The options listed for the "meat and beans" category were pretty limited.  They didn’t seem to count peanuts and peanut butter toward it, and they rarely provided eggs as an option.  Those are pretty big sources of protein for our kids.
  • There was essentially no discussion of portion size.   And at the "official" portion size, almost anything can fit into a balanced diet — even burgers and fries.  But almost no one eats that little of them at a sitting.

4 Responses to “Planet Power!”

  1. Melanie Lynne Hauser Says:

    We saw the Wallace and Gromit movie, too….and I’ve never left a movie wanting to eat vegetables the way I did when I left that movie! I’m astonished it didn’t work for the little one!

  2. APL Says:

    Did you like the W&G movie? Was there anything scary in it? Trying to decide whether Angry Boy would like it… he does pretty well at the movies (saw the Winnie the Pooh Heffalump movie and March of the Penguins). Thanks.

  3. Elizabeth Says:

    We loved the movie — we’re big W&G fans. It’s a parody of horror movies, so there were a few minutes of fog and ominous music where both D and his friend said “I’m scared” but neither of them seemed upset by it or wanted to leave.
    It’s probably funnier for adults who get the references than for kids, but we all had a good time.

  4. Genevieve Says:

    We loved the W&G movie too (and we’re W&G fans from way back). There’s a little bit of scary music, but then the tension breaks and something silly happened. We were with 2 kids who were at their first movie-theater movie and they laughed the whole time. J. loved it (but we knew he would).

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