They came because they are concerned about their children’s health — diet, sleep, exercise and school schedules. They gathered to listen, learn and share at the inaugural “Community Connection” event at in Old Greenwich Thursday night. The get together was the first in a co-sponsored by Greenwich Patch and Upper Crust’s owners Rob and Amy Guerrieri.
Nutritionists Jeremy Boland, Traci Gwozdz and Kim Pearson shared nutrition and fitness tips for children. All three discussed the importance of establishing healthy habits at home and modeling good behavior.
Pearson, who is a special education teacher and holds the title Ms. Bikini Universe 2011, said early habits in the areas of "eating, sleeping and moving" should be established. She said most preschool children should get at least 12 hours of sleep a night. She stressed that parents should lead by example in the areas of nutrition and exercise.
“Look at yourselves,” she told the group. “Parents tend to look outwards, but habits begin at home.”
“They hear everything we say,” Gwozdz said. “We’re their first line of defense. We’re their role models. You’re not going to save your child unless you save yourself first. It’s like the oxygen mask on the plane.”
Gwozdz is the mother of five children who range from 10 to 21 years old. She said her household has served as a laboratory for experimenting with getting children to eat healthy foods.
“I’ve seen it all,” she said. “We have lots of palates in my house.”
The staff at Upper Crust prepared and served a selection of Gwozdz’s favorite recipes, including a fruit smoothie, sweet corn quesadillas, turkey burgers, baked Pecorino chicken and garbanzo bean brownies. Yes. You read that right. Garbanzo bean brownies. And they were a hit with the crowd.
Boland is a physical education teacher at Greenwich public schools. He said families should introduce their preschoolers to a variety of activities, and recommends waiting until children are in second grade before introducing them to “sport specific training.” He said participating in activities with children is important for establishing the importance of an active lifestyle. He shared a booklet produced by the Greenwich that lists local activities available to residents.
“I would recommend kids sample a number of different activities with the family over the summer,” he said. “If you can’t find those activities here in Greenwich you’re just not looking.”
If you weren’t at Upper Crust on Thursday night you didn’t hear Pearson tell the group that broiled cauliflower tastes like French fries.
And you missed the simple formula Gwozdz taught her children for figuring the sugar content of foods. Sugar is measured in grams, she said, and if you divide the gram weight by four (and remember to multiply by the number of servings in the container), you’ll know how many teaspoons of sugar you’ll be consuming. According to her calculations one bottle of Vitamin Water contains eight teaspoons of sugar. She said sugar is a hidden ingredient in many processed foods.
“You’ll be amazed,” she said. “Check out your marinara sauce.”
Amy Guerrieri said she wants to hold next month’s Community Connection in the afternoon and invite children to attend.