In the Webelos Cast Iron Chef adventure, our Cub Scouts will learn about good nutrition.
For requirement 2, they will set “personal nutritional goals,” keep a food journal for a week and review the journal to see if they've met their goals.
Update: The 2016 modifications to the Cub Scout program eliminated this requirement. However, I'm leaving this post because you may find it useful for working with your children outside of Cub Scouts.
A while ago, I put together a food journal that can be printed. There is a space on the form for boys to write down their goals. Every time the boys record what they've eaten, they'll see their goals.
Recently, my son's den started working on the Cast Iron Chef Webelos adventure. As he and I discussed what his goals should be, I realized that I didn't know what goals he should set. I looked in his Webelos handbook and in the Webelos leader guide, and there wasn't much guidance on how to set the goals. But the books did refer us to Choose My Plate.
Choose My Plate Resource
Choose My Plate has some great resources! I love the information that's available on each food group. You can see from the screenshot that if you hover over “MyPlate,” then over the food group, you'll see a drop-down with more specific information about that group including ways to eat more of it.
The “all about the group” sections list the recommended daily amounts that kids should by age and gender. For example, children between the ages of 4 and 8 should get 1 to 1 1/2 cups of fruit, and boys between 9 and 13 should get 1 1/2 cups.
For your convenience, here's a chart that shows how much our kids should be eating and links to the All About and Tips pages.
Setting SMART Goals
To help your son set his goals, talk about what he's eating now, and compare that to the daily amount. Is there an area where he's falling short? Grant and I realized he should eat more grains. One of his goals could be “I will eat more grains.” But what exactly does that mean?
My corporate world days came to mind. We were told that our goals should be SMART. SMART goals are:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Realistic
T – Time-bound
“I will eat more grains” doesn't satisfy any of those! The better goal would be, “I will eat 6 oz. of grains each day for the next 7 days.” Is that goal SMART?
Specific – It is more specific rather than the generic “eat more grains.”
Measurable – We can measure it by comparing the items we ate (listed on the food journal) to the chart on the All About page. We add up the ounces to see if it's at least 6.
Attainable – But can Grant actually eat 6 ounces of grains each day? I looked at the chart, and it is absolutely attainable. If he eats pancakes or a bagel for breakfast, popcorn or some crackers for a snack and rice or pasta for lunch or dinner, he's met the goal.
Realistic – The goal is realistic because Grant likes all of those things, and he's eating them already. On the other hand, my older son has an issue with eating fruits and vegetables. If we set a goal for him to eat 2 1/2 cups of vegetables each day, that would be very unrealistic. Instead, his goal could be, “I will try one new vegetable each day by eating 2 spoonfuls of it.”
Time-bound – The goal is that we'll do this the next 7 day, so it is time-bound.
If your son's goals are SMART, it will be easier for him to track and ultimately achieve them. Try it, and let me know how it works for you.
More Personal Nutritional Goals
Here are some more examples of personal nutritional goals to help with the Cast Iron Chef Webelos adventure:
- Keep a food journal for 7 days so that you'll know how many calories you're eating.
- Eat the right sized portions at dinner for the next 7 days.
- Try a new fruit or vegetable every day.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
On the food journal template, there's room for 3 goals. You decide if that's too many. For my older son, the single goal of trying a new vegetable each day is enough. If he meets that goal, it will be huge for him!
Things to Consider
Here are some other things to think about.
- Your son should really be the one to decide what his goals are. That doesn't mean that you can't guide him and make suggestions, but he makes the decision.
- Review Choose My Plate with your Cub Scout so that you can start that dialog. Questions such as “why is it important to drink more milk?” or “what do you think you should change about your diet?” can start the conversation.
- If he meets that goal for the week, consider some kind of reward. Maybe he gets an extra hour of video game time or gets to stay up later than bedtime. You choose what you think will Webelos motivate your son.
- If the goal he set was really a stretch for him, a daily reward might keep him motivated. A “you don't have to put away the dishes” pass would be a good one at our house!
The requirement isn't to totally overhaul your son's nutrition in a week. It's to help teach him how to make better food choices, so keep that in mind as you work with your Cub Scout on this requirement in the Webelos Cast Iron Chef adventure.
Let me know what goals your son achieves!
Yours in Scouting,
P.S. Download your free copy of the food journal here.