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Spreading the Word



When Gillia Olson set out to write a children’s book about the country’s nutritional guidelines, she thought she’d be working with a pyramid. Instead, she found herself working with a plate.

Olson is the author of “MyPlate and You,” a children’s book used in schools across the country to teach children about the government’s new nutritional guidelines. The 24-page tome is designed to show children the staples of healthy eating and give them the basics about the new food icon.

“I think it’s hard for kids to think about nutrition in an overall way,” Olson explains. “I hope that they can feel like it’s not overwhelming. I hope they can feel like nutrition is not meant to be hard, it’s meant to be relatively simple, and they can do it.”
The book explains the basics about healthy eating, and then presents the five food groups in the MyPlate icon: Grain, Vegetable, Fruit, Dairy and Protein. It also explains the importance of avoiding fat and sugar while staying active.

Olson began work on the project before the U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled the MyPlate icon earlier this year. But she’s happy how it turned out, as it’s played a role in helping schools adjust their curriculum to the new nutrition guidelines.

“I think it’s been really helpful for teachers and librarians and whoever else might be able to explain it to kids,” Olson says. 

Olson’s book isn’t the only children’s book that’s helping to explain nutrition basics to students in schools, of course. Author Sally Lee recently penned “Healthy Snacks, Healthy You,” a companion book designed to show kids how to prepare nutritious-but-delicious snacks. 

Lee, a grandmother of three, says she hopes the book will help families eat better and encourage communities to create healthy environments.

“I think you need to try to develop good nutritional habits when the kids are young,” Lee says. “Once they develop the habits of sodas and pop tarts, it’s kind of hard to change.”