In Baltimore, kids and parents resolve to fix broken resolutions

Port Discovery offers monthly help to those who would be healthier

February 05, 2011|By Jean Marbella, The Baltimore Sun

It's February — do you know where your New Year's resolutions are?

For some, they're right there next to the pile of already broken new toys that have barely survived the first month of the year.

But at Port Discovery Children's Museum on Saturday, there was help for those who need to get back on track with one of the most popular but also most easily broken resolutions: To eat healthier.

"We all know what we need to do; it's just hard to do it: less salt, less cholesterol, more fruit, more whole grains, less processed foods," said Jack Smith, 63, a psychotherapist from Chambersburg, Pa., who watched as his four grandchildren participated in a "Cook and Tell" class to learn how to make a healthy snack.

"The older I get, the harder it gets to lose those last ten pounds," said Smith, whose resolutions range from being a better father, grandfather, husband and brother to, yes, eating healthier. "I have a sweet tooth. I have a hard time ending a meal without something sweet."

The class is part of Port Discovery's "Healthy First Saturdays," a program now in its sixth year. On that day each month, the museum offers cooking, exercise and other wellness activities.

While "Cook and Tell" was designed for kids 7 and younger, those older found it valuable as well.

"Well, what I have to say is: Even though I'm too old to do this, I enjoy watching the younger kids learn about healthy food," Jessica Balick Goodman, a poised 9-year-old from Catonsville, said after seeing how the little ones sang, clapped their hands and learned how to make "Apple Pie Trail Mix."

Jessica has her own health resolutions — to keep her candy-eating below Halloween levels and not to drink soda, the latter of which proved hard after she recently took a sip of one and remembered how good it tastes.

And she has plenty of help at home on keeping those resolutions: Her mother, Lyssa Balick, is a nutritionist from McCormick and Company, the Hunt Valley-based spice purveyor. She led the lesson making the healthy trail mix of dried fruits, graham cracker bits, whole-grain cereal and, of course, McCormick Apple Pie Spice, a jar of which each participants was given to take home.

Balick dovetailed with the new dietary guidelines recently released by the federal Agriculture and Health and Human Services departments, which emphasized not just what Americans should eat, but how much — or rather, how much less. To highlight the importance of portion control, Balick's tailored the recipe to fit into small, snack-size resealable bags.

The petite Balick may not look like she needs to resolve to lose weight, but her resolution is similar: not to gain it. She lost 22 pounds almost a year ago, and says that's only half the battle because most people ultimately regain what they've worked so hard to shed.

"It doesn't take much to put weight on," she said. "I have to be conscious all the time."

A children's museum may seem an unlikely place to come to boost your health, but that makes it all the more effective, said Nora Moynihan, the museum's director of education and community enrichment.

"We're a place that's not preachy about it," she said. "We're fun and helpful. It's all about health, everything we do."

And indeed, the museum features health-promoting activities, from a three-story urban treehouse that kids can scamper up to a Royal Farms convenience store in which they stack items in a cart and see how they fit into the food pyramid.

Moynihan said the museum hopes visitors bring home more than memories from their trip to Port Discovery.

"If you take our Middle Eastern dance class here," she said of a calorie-burning program the museum offers, "you might go home, turn on some music and start doing some of the moves you learned here."

jean.marbella@baltsun.com

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