Eating to win the Most important Game: A Healthy Balanced Life

Check out this article from the examiner.com in Nashville

http://www.examiner.com/article/eating-to-win-the-most-important-game-a-healthy-balanced-life

NASHVILLE – Sometimes, you dig and dig and maybe you get the important story. Sometimes, you’re barely awake and the important story bumps into you:

“Grande caramel macchiato light!”

Standing in the barista dispensary line were two attractive women – not necessarily unusual in beautiful Nashville, Tennessee on a typical morning. But what stood out about these two were their shirts: emblazoned on them was an attention-getting BLAMMO Nickelodeon- style logo with the words “Eat to Win!” across them.

My first thought was that they were Nutri-system sales agents or other such people… but as your intrepid reporter, I’ve learned to ask the question and take the risk of being “AMway-ed,” if you will. It turns out that the two ladies (Jammi and Joy) were in town for a Nashville teacher’s convention to promote their line of products… which are kids and family games that taught the virtues of nutrition and healthy eating in a fun, interactive way.

But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. The background tells the tale.

In 2010, Jammi (pronounced ‘Jamie’) Roscoe was a typical Michigan mom with a 9-year old son (Christopher) who wanted to play football in a local city league. Christopher was a lineman, which generally is a position played by bigger kids. However, the league had a weight limit for each position, and Christopher was about 10-15 pounds over it… he was still able to play, but was limited to just 2 plays per half.

Oh, one other thing: he and the other overweight kids were called ‘x-men’ – due to the fact that because of their weight they had to wear an “X” on the back of their helmet(s)!

Great. Let that sink in while your macchiato cools down a bit… 9 years old and branded like Hester Prynne. For the child, it can lead to a lifetime of unspeakable trauma, body issues, etc. As a parent, the feelings can be just as bad – maybe even worse – because of the helplessness you can feel.

Well, it’s very easy to be a victim. It can happen to anyone.

But its what you do in response that makes all the difference.

Jammi had always been an optimistic person by nature. So instead of wailing and gnashing her teeth and starting a petition drive and generally wailing about the unfairness of it all, she put her energy into a positive response to an extremely distressing situation.

In a burst of creative energy, she took the games she loved as a child and adapted them into a fun way for Christopher to learn about eating healthy. Being an active boy, he was able to lose the 10-15 pounds in just a couple of weeks needed to remove the “X” and in fact went on to lose a total of 30 in about a year!

While we should note at this point that YMMV, Jammi quickly realized that her situation was by no means unique. Millions of children today in America are overweight, and anything that could help promote healthy eating (which of course, is a major initiative of First Lady Michelle Obama) is something worth sharing. With the help of some creative partners (Gary Gabel, artist Sue Hampton and Weaver Media, which designed their dynamite logo), Jammi appointed herself the “Chief Executive Director of Fun” and in January 2012 put together an exciting, colorful and, I believe, soon to be massively popular version of a game called “Eat to Win” – a game where losing is fun! She then set out with Joy around the country; to The New York Toy Fair, PTA conventions in California and Texas, with stops at teacher gatherings in Atlanta, Ohio and thankfully, Nashville.

The short course on the game, which can be purchased for $19.95 on their site (www.eattowingame.com) is that the child gets a wallet and a daily food ‘allowance’ with ‘food dollars’ that translate into calories… for a 9-year old boy, the daily allowance is $1,800. The child is free to spend his ‘money’ on anything he wants to eat, BUT they quickly learn that if they blow $1,000 on that banana split, they’ll likely be hungry before bed. Maybe a soft-serve cone ($170 – or 170 calories) is a better bet. Kids also can earn extra food dollars for themselves by exercising ($300 for riding a bike for 30 minutes, even $100 just for walking the dog for 30 minutes).

Other ways to earn extra money include tracking that you ate from each of the 5 food groups (fruit, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy) sometime through the day- but this, like the money a child earns for tracking their weight loss, doesn’t go for more food but into a special “rewards account” for a trip to the zoo or movies, etc.

The benefits extend beyond the nutritional ones; while enjoying the process of progress, if you will, children are also learning valuable financial and math lessons without even realizing it.

While overweight children are certainly a significant, growing segment of the population, healthy eating principles are something that everyone needs to embrace. In response to this, the creative minds at Eat to Win developed an interactive board game (retailing for $24.95) that involves the entire family. “My favorite component is when a player lands on a “Do It!” space,” Jammi said. “Then someone will need to get up and do a chicken dance, for instance, which is a great calorie burner.”

Even though the Eat to Win Board Game has only been out a few months Creative Child Magazine has already named it as one of the few recipients of a 2012 Educational Board Game of the Year award.

“One thing that I want to emphasize is that our games are entirely manufactured in the USA,” Jammi said. “That was very important to all of us, even though we could have got it made for half the price overseas.”

On the drawing board are things like an i-phone app, flash cards, etc. But of course, this is still a start-up venture, and the costs of promoting a new game in a crowded market are extremely high.

In a blog you’re allowed to advocate, so here it is: Hello, Hasbro? More importantly – hello Ms. Obama? How about a little help here?

I have no stake in Eat to Win; but we all should have a big rooting interest in seeing an entrepreneurial spirit that has an important message thrive.

Your beverage is cool enough now. Take a sip, open your laptop and check out Eat to Win. Class dismissed.

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