Walk Kansas fitness challenge participants were treated to lunch Wednesday at the Great Bend Recreation Center. However, as any calorie-conscious person knows there is no such thing as a free lunch.
After hearing a program from K-State Research and Extension agents on “Nutrition Banking,” guests were given $27 in Wise Bucks and invited to buy whatever they wanted from the Mexican buffet. The more fat, added sugars or sodium in food item, the higher the cost.
So, if a participant wanted to spend $8 on a brownie for dessert, she might choose to skip the handful of tortilla chips – as well as the sour cream and cheese toppings. Some of the choices, such as servings of lettuce, onions and tomatoes, along with all of the raw fruit choices, were free.
Jamie Rathbun from the Midway Extension District in Ellsworth said the idea behind Wise Bucks is to visualize a balance of nutrition deposits and withdrawals. Based on 2,000 calories a day for women and 2,500 calories a day for men, women have $81 a day in Wise Bucks and men have $99. Women were given $27 for lunch and men were given $33.
Following this nutrition budget, each gram of fat in a food item, every 100 mg of sodium or every 4 grams of added sugar, costs $1 in Wise Bucks. But, no fair saving all week so you can overeat on the weekend. Nutrition doesn’t work that way, Rathbun said.
Still, the occasional brownie isn’t out of reach.
“Positive behavior changes are not about making sacrifices,” she said. Rather, it is kind of like maintaining a checkbook. “Just like personal finances, it’s a matter of balance.”
Barton County Extension Agent Donna Krug said that reading nutrition labels can help people analyze the “cost” of different foods so they can make better choices.
“We definitely want you to invest in your health and eat wisely,” Krug said.
The educational event was open to the public, but was billed as a Walk Kansas pep rally. Starting on Aug. 3, six-person teams have been keeping track of the time spent walking or doing other exercise. Each team has a goal to collectively “walk” across the state, a 423-mile challenge which will require each person to log 150 minutes per week for eight weeks. There is also a challenge to walk across the state diagonally (763 miles), or to walk the perimeter (1,200 miles).
Although Walk Kansas is a K-State Research and Extension project, the Great Bend Recreation Commission is also involved in the Barton County version.