Have Fun with Portion Control

My sons recently offered to buy dinner for me and my husband. They were ordering from their favorite burrito place and asked what I wanted. When I chose the kids meal, they were dumbfounded.

Why would you get the kids meal? It’s so small!

(Even my husband was against it, albeit for a different reason: The boys are actually paying for our dinner, and you’re ordering the cheapest thing on the menu?!)

I explained that child-size meals at restaurants are usually pretty close to the correct portion size for me and lots of other Americans. No way, mom! They couldn’t believe it.

Chances are, your clients, students, or employees would feel the same way if they ordered their favorite burrito and were served the child’s portion size. Yet portion control is key to a healthy eating pattern.

Here are some fun ways to teach any audience about portion control:

  1. Use pictures. The good thing about the concept of portion control is that, with the right pictures, you don’t have to say a word.
  2. Do some hands-on measuring. Plastic food models are great when you’re seeing clients or students in person. But when your audience is on a computer screen, you have to get creative. Use our Portion Control DVD/CD Set to teach the basics, but break up the lessons with some hands-on measuring.
    • Let participants take turns showing a food or beverage from their kitchen (chips, peanut butter, cereal, soda, juice, etc). First, ask them to show what they think is the correct portion size (say, a tablespoon of peanut butter or 4 ounces of juice). Next, have them actually measure out the correct portion size, using measuring cups or spoons, or even a kitchen scale if they have one.
    • Check plate size. Have participants measure the plates they use at home. Are they more than 9 inches? How about the mugs and glasses – how many ounces do they hold? Our Portion Control: Don’t Go Overboard handout would go well with a lesson like this.
  3. Show real-life examples of portion control. Record short videos to post on social media or send to your clients. For example, measure out one serving from a basket of tortilla chips you’d see at a Mexican restaurant. Or show how a huge muffin from your favorite coffee shop cannot possibly fit on MyPlate.

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

Let’s Get Excited About the New DGA

With all that’s going on in our country, it’s possible that not everyone is as excited as we are about the new edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). But we’re not letting that stop us!

Here are three ways to get your students, clients, or employees excited about (or at least aware of) the new DGA:

  1. Teach it: Our new 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines PowerPoint Show and Handout Set has everything you need to share the new DGA with just about anyone. It’s eye-catching, with bright colors, crisp graphics, and beautiful photos of real food. And it’s customizable, so you can make it work for any audience or time-frame. Use this PowerPoint presentation for a webinar or break the content up into mini-sessions to use with clients or on social media.
  2. Post it: People will stop to get a closer look at our new Dietary Guidelines Poster and Healthy Eating Patterns Poster. They’re a bright and colorful way to let everyone know that the new DGA is here and show what healthy eating patterns are all about. These posters are perfect for your office, hallways, waiting rooms, exam rooms, cafeterias, and classrooms.
  3. Wear it: Make Every Bite Count is the simple, catchy theme of the new DGA. We have Make Every Bite Count wristbands in three sizes (kids, bigger kids, and adults). Send them to your clients, use them as incentives for your students, or give them away to your social media followers.

Let’s get excited about the new DGA!

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

Let’s Talk Sugar

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines doesn’t lower the limit on added sugar intake, but we still have our work cut out for us. Just getting Americans to cut their added sugar intake to less than 10% of daily calories is a challenge.

Here are some ways you can incorporate the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans into your nutrition education efforts around added sugar:

  1. Under age two, no added sugar for you! The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines recommends zero added sugar intake for children under the age of two. The average toddler (age 12-23 months) consumes 104 calories per day from added sugars. That’s more than six teaspoons of added sugar, when that number should be zero!
    • Teach parents, grandparents, and all care-givers how to choose nutrient-dense, age-appropriate foods without added sugar. Use our Food Label Education materials to show them where to find added sugars on the food label. If a food or beverage has added sugar, it doesn’t fit into a healthy diet for children under age two.
  2. Teens are too sweet. Added sugar intake goes from 11% of calories/day in childhood to 15% of calories/day in adolescence. And guess what’s also on the rise as kids turn into teens? Sugar-sweetened beverage intake. Sugary beverages make up about 15-25% of total added sugar intake in childhood. By adolescence, this jumps to 32%.
    • Educate children and teens about sugar in beverages with our Are You Drinking Candy materials. Parents and caregivers have more control over what younger kids drink, so they should start early to help foster good habits like drinking water instead of soda, fruit drinks, and sports drinks.
  3. Be the example. Come on, adults! How can we expect our little ones to skip the sugar if we don’t? More than 60% of adults under age 60 exceed the recommended daily limit on added sugars. Again, it’s the sugar-sweetened beverages — they make up more than 40% of daily added sugar intake.
    • Our Sugar Math PowerPoint show covers everything adults (and kids and teens) need to know to get their own added sugar intake in line with recommendations.

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

New Year, New Dietary Guidelines

Last week, I watched the virtual release of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Here are some highlights for you:

  • There are four over-arching guidelines:
    1. Follow a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage.
    2. Customize and enjoy nutrient-dense food and beverage choices to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgetary considerations.
    3. Focus on meeting food group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages, and stay within calorie limits.
    4. Limit food and beverages higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium, and limit alcoholic beverages.
  • The new edition of the Dietary Guidelines comes with a new call to action – Make Every Bite Count!
    • This theme was evident throughout the virtual presentation and you’ll also see it in the new materials available at DietaryGuidelines.gov.
    • There’s emphasis on the idea that “every American can take one step each day to be better off than the day before.”
  • For the first time, the Dietary Guidelines provides recommendations across the lifespan, from birth to older adulthood, including pregnancy and lactation.
    • Admiral Brett Giroir, MD, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services said this: “The good news is that the science tells us that it is never too early nor too late to eat healthy, which is why it is so important to make every bite count.”
  • Recommendations on added sugar intake did not change.
    • The Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee had recommended that intake of added sugars be limited to no more than 6 percent of calories, but “the evidence reviewed since the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans does not substantiate quantitative changes at this time.”
    • The bottom line: Americans are still advised to consume no more than 10 percent of daily calories from added sugars.
  • You can already find resources online, including an infographic about Making Every Bite Count and the Top 10 Things You Need to Know about the new Dietary Guidelines.

Find all of our new and updated materials here. Use the code 202015OFF to get 15% off and free shipping for all of our Dietary Guidelines relates resources now.

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

Grains: Set the Story Straight

Between low carb diets and the gluten-free craze, grains get a bad rap. Set things straight by teaching the truth about whole grains.

Whether you want to do a deep-dive webinar series, short Facebook or YouTube Live sessions, or a bulletin board display, we have the materials you need in our Whole Grain theme, including:

What to teach? Here are some catchy ideas to get you started:

  1. Grain’s Anatomy: Teach the parts of a grain. Show how processing turns a healthy whole grain into a less-healthy refined grain.
  2. Make Peace with Bread: Explain how whole grain bread can fit into a healthy eating pattern. Discuss reading labels to find 100% whole grain bread and appropriate serving sizes.
  3. Name That Grain: Most people don’t know much about grains beyond wheat, oats, and rice. Show them pictures of less-familiar grains like quinoa, buckwheat, and farro and give tips on how to prepare them.
  4. Start Your Day the Whole Grain Way: Whole grains are a natural breakfast choice. Talk about the difference between instant oats and steel-cut oats, how to prepare overnight oats, and low sugar whole-grain cereal options.

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

7 Simple Steps to a Healthier Life

When it comes to nutrition and health education, it’s best to keep your messages simple. People are more likely to remember and follow recommendations that are straight-forward and basic.

Our 7 Simple Steps poster provides a lot of information, but it’s broken down into specific steps that can be taken one at a time. Each step will save you calories. If you add up all seven steps, you could end up saving 500,000 calories per year.

The steps touch on: MyPlate, healthy snacks and beverages, breakfast, portion control, nonfat dairy foods, and exercise.

Use the 7 Simple Steps concept to help your clients, employees, or students move step-by-step toward a healthier lifestyle. While the steps are numbered on the poster, people can choose where to start.

Here are some ways you could use the poster and accompanying PDF handouts:

  1. Create a 7 Simple Steps bulletin board display. The poster comes with a sample bulletin board layout. Adapt it to your audience, perhaps by focusing on a different step each week.
  2. Offer a 7 Simple Steps virtual group session. Present the seven steps and get a discussion going using the questions listed below in #5.
  3. Run a week-long 7 Simple Steps social media campaign. Present one step every day. Encourage followers to comment on how they could follow each step.
  4. Take a 7 Simple Steps poll. Whether your audience is made up of social media followers or employees who see the poster on your bulletin board, let them chime in on which step they want to work on most.
  5. Ask questions in your group or individual sessions:
    • Which of these steps do you already do?
    • Which could you start working on?
    • What step do you want to work on first?
    • How will you do it?

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

What’s Your Word for 2021?

This is the time of year when I usually start thinking about what word or phrase will be my theme for the next year. (I wrote about this concept last January – read it here.)

The idea is that instead of New Year’s resolutions, you choose a word or phrase that will be your theme for the year. You keep it in mind as you face decisions, challenges, and daily life.

Now, we know that 2021 isn’t going to be an ordinary year. Even with promising COVID vaccines, it will be months before life returns to any semblance of “normal.” So maybe for 2021, it makes more sense to choose a new theme each month

Monthly themes are a great way to engage your clients, students, or social media followers. And we have PowerPoint shows to teach any theme – check out 12 Lessons on Wellness & Weight Loss and 12 More Lessons on Wellness & Weight Loss.

Here are some ideas to get you started, along with suggestions for PowerPoint shows from our 12 Lessons series.

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD


Get Their Attention with Food Photos

It won’t be long until people start thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Ads for weight loss programs will show up in social media feeds. Health and nutrition influencers will tout their magic bullets.

When you stick to science-based recommendations, it can be hard to compete. How can you get your clients’ attention away from the flashy fads and quick-fixes?

We have just the answer! Our collection of MyPlate Food Photos can help you stand out while promoting a healthy, plant-based eating pattern based on the MyPlate concept.

Use these beautiful, professional photographs of real food to get your message across. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Inspire your social media followers with beautiful photos of plates that follow the MyPlate guidelines. Kick off 2021 by posting a MyPlate meal of the day for the first 15 days of the year.
  • Motivate your readers with a blog series on healthy choices from each food group. With our pictures, you won’t have to add many words to make your point.
  • Guide your students through the important topic of serving sizes with a presentation that features pictures of appropriate portions of real food.
  • Instruct everyone about what makes up a healthy eating plan with photos showing how many servings of each food group you need every day.
  • Remind your clients what healthy eating looks like by sending them pictures of real food in emails or text messages.

Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words!

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

Holiday Survival Tips & COVID-19

Eating healthfully during the holidays is always a challenge. This year the pandemic is making it even harder.

Help your clients get through the holiday eating season with our Holiday Survival Tips PowerPoint show. The presentation addresses the reality of holiday weight gain and helps audience members make a plan to avoid it.

Here are three of the Holiday Survival Tips along with how they may need to be tweaked this year due to COVID-19:

  1. Focus less on food and more on celebrating what the holidays are all about. This can be difficult if you’re alone or unable to get together with friends or extended family this year.
    • Schedule phone calls and virtual gatherings so you’ll have something to look forward to besides eating.
    • Keep your hands busy with knitting, crafts, adult coloring books, or puzzles – you can’t eat while doing these kinds of activities!
    • Make up for missing events like tree lightings and holiday festivals by finding things you CAN do. Walk around your neighborhood to see all the holiday lights, for example.
  2. Pay attention to exercise and sleep — two things that the holidays tend to interfere with.
    • Make a plan to take a walk or do an exercise video at the same time every day. Text a friend to stay accountable.
    • Avoid staying up later than usual or sleeping in. Stick to a consistent sleep schedule so you’ll wake up refreshed every morning.
    • Put health-promoting gifts on your wish list, like a Fitbit or a subscription to the premium version of a meal planning or food tracking app.
  3. Find ways to make traditional holiday dishes a bit healthier.
    • Use less fat or sugar in recipes. Staying home means you’ll be in control of the big holiday meals, so make this the year you try a lower fat pumpkin pie or sweet potatoes without the sugary toppings.
    • If there’s only going to be four of you for the big holiday meal, scale things down. Buy the smallest pies or cakes you can find. Bake smaller batches of things like your favorite holiday cookies. The goal is to NOT have lots of leftovers to tempt you.
    • If you’re buying a meal from a supermarket or restaurant, make sure you know what you’re getting and adjust accordingly. Keep some extra roasted vegetables or salad on hand to add to a purchased meal.

The holidays and the pandemic make it easy to gain weight and hard to lose it. Probably the best tip we can give people this time of year is to aim to maintain their weight.

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD




4 Lessons to Lower Blood Pressure

Are you looking for ways to teach your clients, students, or employees about high blood pressure? We have a comprehensive PowerPoint program for you: Four Lessons to Lower Blood Pressure.

No matter who’s in the audience, they’re bound to learn something new from our lessons:

  1. Introduction to High Blood Pressure
  2. Make the DASH
  3. Cut the Salt
  4. Get Moving to Lower Blood Pressure

The lessons can be used individually, or you can host a series of virtual sessions.

Here are some talking points to promote your blood pressure education efforts and motivate people to take action:

  1. The silent killer: High blood pressure usually has no symptoms. That’s why it is important to get your blood pressure measured and do what it takes to get it under control.
  2. COVID-19 point #1: The CDC says that adults of any age who have high blood pressure might be at an increased risk for severe illness if they are infected by the coronavirus. That’s a good reason to make an effort to get your blood pressure under control.
  3. COVID-19 point #2: High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease. According to the CDC, heart disease puts you at an increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness. Just one more reason to take steps now to control your blood pressure.
  4. More than salt: While cutting sodium in your diet is very important, that’s not the only thing. The DASH eating plan emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean proteins, and legumes, nuts, and seeds.
  5. More than diet: Along with the DASH eating plan, regular exercise can help lower your blood pressure. And if you smoke, get help to quit.

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD