L.E.A.N. sounds like the letters to a cheer song, but it is a nutritional program that is tackling the tough issues of childhood obesity, disease prevention and wellness.
It stands for Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude and Nutrition, and Heidi Higgins believes so strongly in the program that she decided to become a Certified L.E.A.N. Coach.
“L.E.A.N. targets parents with children between the ages of 3 to 12, and focuses on teaching parents basic behaviors that empower them to raise healthy children,” Higgins said.
L.E.A.N. was developed by well-known pediatrician, Dr. William Sears, author of more than 40 parenting/child rearing books, with articles in parenting magazines, and appearances on more than 100 television programs such as “20/20,” “Good Morning America,” and “Oprah.”
Sears’ greatest resource may be the fact that he has raised eight children. He is in practice with his sons, Bob and Jim, who appear on the hit show “The Doctors.” “Parents perception of healthy eating is sometimes off-track,” Higgins said. “Many parents also believe that healthy eating takes more time and money.”
According to Higgins, parents that have completed the course and implemented changes to their children’s diets have experienced better behavior and better performance in school from their children. They report less energy spent on controlling children and happier, calmer families.
The L.E.A.N. Start Nutrition class begins Wednesday at Mother’s Haven, 2112 N. Government Way in Coeur d’Alene. Mother’s Haven is a retail shop and support center for new parents. The six-hour class costs $65.
Higgins is a Coeur d’Alene resident, former public school educator, librarian and middle school teacher and parent. As a L.E.A.N. program coach, Higgins found a natural fit enabling her to continue as an educator, and as a stay-at-home parent.
“I developed a deep concern for what children were eating as I observed them at lunch times and breaks,” Higgins said. “Now that I am a parent I am even more interested in modeling good nutrition and fitness habits.”
According to Higgins, grazing trays are one way that parents can make snacks fun. Muffin tins filled with healthy snacks like fruits, veggies and nuts can be set on a counter and available to children during the day.
“Children love the various colors and surprise of different snacks everyday,” says Higgins.
One of the things participants learn about is traffic-light eating. Green-light foods are foods which children can eat anytime; yellow-light foods can be eaten everyday in sensible portions; and red-light foods signal to stop and think if there a better choice.
“Parents learn what those foods are in the class,” says Higgins.
Mother’s Haven owner Margaret Hildahl has nothing but praise for Higgins and the L.E.A.N. program.
“I love what she is teaching – teaching healthy nutrition to our children from the start is so important.”