Play Cheese-o

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Nearly 70% of Americans are not getting enough calcium in their diet. Calcium is needed for bones but may be protective against cancer of the colon, PMS, high blood pressure and perhaps breast cancer, but more research is needed.
The benefit of getting calcium from food is that food provides many nutrients, not just calcium. Dairy provides protein and riboflavin and most people are aware that milk and cheese are good sources of calcium. However, plant sources of calcium provide nutrients that are often in short supply in most people's diets. Plants have fiber. Collard greens have phytochemicals like lutein that protect vision. Greens and orange juice provide folate to protect the heart. Soy products contain phytoestrogens. Many plant foods such as non-dairy milks, green vegetables and beans have calcium. Calcium fortified versions of food, from waffles to orange juice, are in every aisle of the grocery store.
Here is a game I call CHEESE-O that is similar to bingo. It will help your clients learn about foods that contain calcium.
Directions:
Create a copy master that looks like a piece of Swiss cheese. See our diagram provided. This game card represents the participant’s bones without adequate calcium. Under the cheese draw lines so that the contestants have room to write down the foods and number of servings they choose. Purchase small round stickers from the office supply store. In this game each hole in the Swiss cheese represents 100 mg of calcium. Draw holes on the master the size of the stickers and make the number of holes correspond to the DRI for calcium for the participants. For example, if your audience is children age 4 to 8, their Swiss cheese will have 8 holes which represents 800 mg of calcium.
Gather food packages and fresh food from the store. For young people place the appropriate number of stickers on the food. For example the calcium fortified orange juice would have 3 stickers and a calcium fortified juice box would have one. The calculations are pretty easy for packaged food as the DV is set at 1000 mg so that each 10% of the DV on the package equals 100 mg of calcium. For older participants you can show them how to calculate the number of stickers themselves.
Each contestant looks over the food, writes down the foods they would choose to eat, and then places the appropriate number of stickers on their Swiss cheese paper. Like BINGO, the first one to cover all the holes in their Swiss cheese calls out “CHEESE-O” and must read off the foods they used to reach their calcium recommendation. Each contestant does this as they fill their Swiss cheese. This will show contestants that there are numerous ways to reach the DRI for calcium using plant foods.
For a detailed chart on heart healthy sources of calcium, see
page 53 of this issue.
Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for Calcium
Infants    210-270 mg
Children 1-3 yrs    500 mg
Children 4-8 yrs    800
Children 9-18 yrs    1300 mg
Adults 19- 30 yrs    1000 mg
Adults 31- 50 yrs    1000 mg
Adult 51- 70 yrs    1200 mg
Adults > 70 yrs    1200 mg
Pregnant < 19 yrs     1300 mg
Pregnant 19 -50 yrs    1000 mg
Lactation < 19 yrs    1300 mg
Lactation 19 -50 yrs    1000mg
By Carol M. Coughlin, RD

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