LEWISTON – Between songs, students were presented with two drinks: soda and water.

Which would they drink? entertainers “Julie and Brownie” asked Montello Elementary School students Monday during a performance about nutrition, diversity and self-esteem.

“Water,” most yelled out.

“Soda,” a few answered.

Performers Danica Carlson and Brownie Macintosh demonstrated why water was the healthier choice.

They poured sugar into a measuring cup until it was full.

“One whole cup of sugar is in this soda,” Carlson said, holding up a bottle of soda. If you drink two or three sodas a day, “that’s an awful lot of sugar,” which can contribute to unhealthy lifestyles and obesity.

It doesn’t mean you can never drink soda, but make sure it’s only once in a while, they coached.

For about 40 minutes, the duo entertained students with songs and theatrics, demonstrating how a banjo brings out smiles, how children should believe in themselves, and where bananas come from.

“Bananas are just about the healthiest thing you can eat. It’s loaded with good things,” Brownie said, then sang about a banana man as students clapped along.

Between songs the pair urged students to exercise at least 30 minutes a day and limit how much time they spend on the computer. They quizzed students on the food pyramid, recommending plenty of grains, fruits and vegetables and urging them to take it easy on cookies and brownies.

At one point Julie said she forgot to eat her lunch. Could she eat her lunch on stage? she asked.

Brownie said yes.

They announced she was going to show students what she likes to eat for a healthy meal. But as he sang, and as she mixed and ate a tuna pasta salad with cottage cheese, students reacted with “eeewww.”

Another song they sang was how onions were one of their favorite foods.

More “eewwws.”

Students who liked onions were asked to rub their tummy. Students who did not like onions were asked to “plug your nose.” There were more plugged noses than tummy rubs.

The performance of the New Hampshire duo was sponsored by the Lewiston School Department, Healthy Androscoggin, and the Central Maine Heart and Vascular Institute.

The hospital has a big interest in nutrition, preventing obesity, and encouraging people to be physically active. “We’re trying to increase awareness for the use of healthy choices in lifestyles,” said CMHVI spokeswoman Sandie Rice.

Over the past five years Lewiston schools have taken a “wellness journey,” said school health coordinator Reggie Beaulieu. Schools have incorporated health and wellness into policies. The high school has a comprehensive fitness center “used nonstop” from 6 a.m. until 5 p.m.

“It’s as good as any health club in the city,” Beaulieu said. Schools are teaching nutrition, and doing a lot to encourage students to be active.

When asked how often – weekly or daily – students take gym classes, Beaulieu declined to answer, saying he didn’t want to talk about it. “We wish we had more,” he said, adding that Lewiston offers the same amount of gym classes as other schools.

After the Julie and Brownie performance, fourth-grader Destiny Wetherell, 10, said she learned “we should mostly eat grains.”

Katyann Whiteley, 9, said she learned not to drink soda “all the time, because if you drink it all the time you’re going to get fat, and that’s not healthy.”

On Tuesday the duo will take their show to students at Longley and McMahon elementary schools.

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