Adrian has put on a lot of weight since he chose to go off Adderall in October. There were so many side effects that we didn’t realize were happening. He’s still incredibly picky. And then there’s the weight. He’s like he was as a baby with the most incredible and adorable fat rolls again. But, he’s getting close to obese and that really is a problem so something needs to be done just to help him make good food habits. That will help him throughout his life whether he loses one single pound or not.
When Fritz was a bit younger than Adrian is now, he had to take a course of steroids for pneumonia. He packed on weight due to those steroids. He never got as close to the obese line as Adrian is now, but we had some conversations about eating and moving more. He often ate out of boredom so he trained himself to ask whether he was bored or hungry. He tried some healthy snacks and discovered he really likes carrot sticks. We started taking PokeWalks together. It works. He’s firmly in the normal weight category now and has some healthy habits that will serve him well as he gets older.
Adrian’s a little more complicated. He would rather hide behind a chair than do the 7 Minute Workout with his brother. He’d rather sit and play video games than take Lola for a walk. He will only consent to eat a handful of foods. He admits he eats out of boredom, but sees no reason to change. And he really responds well to apps with positive reinforcement.
So we downloaded the Kurbo app to see how that would go for him. The answer? Terrible.
Kurbo sorts foods into three categories based on a stoplight. Green, Yellow, and Red. I disagree so strongly with the fact that most foods – particularly “kid” foods are put into the red category. Apple juice, 2% milk, and soda are all red foods. The problem is they are not at all equal. Apple juice and milk actually have nutritional benefits, while soda is a treat. Two foods Adrian is willing to eat are mac and cheese and rice and cheese. They are red. Each week the kid gets 24 red foods. And that’s it. Sure, they can say they are encouraging the kid to eat more green foods (fruits and veggies), but what I saw in Adrian was a very different result.
Within just a few hours of using the app, Adrian developed a crazy obsession with what color a food is. He refused to eat even one Taki when his sister offered it to him (he loves Takis) because it was a red and would use up one of his allotted reds for the week. Because he likes few fruits and vegetables at this point, he determined to just starve rather than eat because most of what he wanted to eat would use up a red. He ate an apple for breakfast, but refused the peanut butter that would’ve made it a very healthy meal. The reason? Peanut butter is red.
Needless to say he is not using the Kurbo app anymore.
But he still likes the idea of an app. So we got to thinking and are trying to figure out how to make an app just for him to help him learn to make good choices, move more, and learn about portion control (that is the one thing I like about Kurbo – it has an easy to understand chart for how to measure portions using your hand).
Obviously the value judgment of foods by color would not be included in his app. Food is food. It keeps us alive. Obviously some foods are healthier than others, but kids know red on a stoplight means stop. Saying a food is red communicates a meaning to the kid. It means don’t eat this. So my mom came up with sorting food based on the sun, the moon, and the stars.
Sun foods are fruits and vegetables. Those don’t get limited in any way. There’s no serving size to think about. Grab and apple or a banana and be one your way (no writing down every bite either). The sun makes fruits and vegetables grow so it makes sense that they’d be in that category.
Almost all foods fit in the moon category. The moon changes just like serving sizes change depending on the food. The moon reminds us to measure or portion out those foods. If he wants two servings of mac and cheese because he’s still hungry after one, that’s okay! Just as long as he eats one serving or portion at a time.
Then there is the stars, the only category that gets tracked because we only want to eat them occasionally. We don’t get stars on our papers all the time, but when we do it is special and we feel good. Foods in the star category are those foods we should only eat sparingly according to the food guide pyramid. If he wants butter on his popcorn, he can certainly use a star for it. If he wants to drink a root beer because we’re at a restaurant for dinner, that’s fine, too. Each week he would get 14 stars to use as he pleases.
To encourage him to move at least 10 minutes a day, he can earn an extra star each day. Pretty much that’s doing the 7 Minute Workout with Fritz and walking (which usually is running when the boys take her for a “walk”) Lola. It’s his choice to do this, but we strongly encourage it because even a little bit of exercise a day can make a big difference long term.
Hopefully we’ll figure out how to make this app for Adrian. The ultimate goal is really to help him form healthy habits related to food and exercise now. If he drops down into the normal weight category, that would be great, though it would also be great if he just stayed the same weight as he grows because my boys may start out on the shorter side, they do eventually sprout upward (that’s actually exactly what Fritz has done – he’s stayed the same weight give or take a few pounds ever since he started thinking about whether he was hungry or not and exercising more). He just will definitely not be working toward that goal with Kurbo.