Cooking demos: What’s holding you back?

There’s never been a better time to use cooking demos for nutrition and health education. Your clients and students will love seeing something new and engaging on your Zoom calls or social media pages.

Even if you’ve never done a cooking demo, we make it easy for you! Our books and PowerPoint shows are based on simple, tested recipes. We guide you step-by-step through the process of planning and executing a cooking demo.

One of my favorites is our MyPlate Cooking Demo Ideas Book & CD. It has something for everyone – recipes for children and adults, different cooking methods, and even a 5-step plan to prepare for your demo.

Here are some ideas for virtual cooking demos you could do using our MyPlate Cooking Demo Ideas Book & CD:

  1. Four Ways to MyPlate – A series for new or busy cooks, featuring four basic cooking methods for MyPlate recipes:
    -Clever cooking with a rice cooker
    -Simple skillet suppers
    -Marvelous microwave meals
    -Fast meals with the slow cooker
  2. Just for Kids MyPlate – A class where students watch you prepare a MyPlate recipe, then try it at home with a caregiver’s help.
  3. The Three S’s – MyPlate Sides, Salads, & Snacks: Go live on Facebook or YouTube with short cooking demos.
  4. Ban Breakfast Boredom with MyPlate – a class or series featuring simple recipes for the first meal of the day.
  5. Bonus! Shopping with MyPlate PowerPoint presentation – Offer this add-on to your class or series. With speaker’s notes and handouts, we’ve done all the work for you.

With cell phones, tablets, and laptops, anyone can record their own food demo. Let your clients and students choose a recipe to demonstrate for the group — they’ll love being a celebrity chef for the day!

More ideas include cook-a-longs. Now they can cook with you while you are using Zoom or going live on social media channels.

The same tips apply:

  1. Think about how you can show a meal that is relevant to your audience considering local food sources, seasonal and pandemic availability, cultural and local tastes, and of course nutrition lessons and making a  healthy plate.
  2. Measure out all the ingredients so no one has to watch you do that.
  3. Consider having multiple stages pre-prepared. For example, have an item baked or cooked if it takes a long time to do that. So you can show how to do it and then what it looks like when done.
  4. Always practice a dish a few times so it feels familiar and easy to you.
  5. Smile and have fun!

Food Shopping During a Pandemic

You may not be able to take your clients on a supermarket tour, but we have the next best thing. Use our 6 Grocery Shopping PowerPoint Tour Guides to hold virtual food shopping workshops.

This kit contains PowerPoint shopping lessons for every audience:

With COVID-19, people will have questions about food shopping. Below are teaching tips for two topics people are most concerned with right now — budget and safety.

Healthy shopping on a budget during COVID-19: Many people who have never needed food assistance now find themselves in need. Be ready to help them find and use resources such as —

Safe shopping during COVID-19: 

  • It’s safer to shop online for curbside pickup or delivery, but some people don’t like the idea of a stranger picking out their fresh produce or meat. What to do?
    • Remind folks that most stores have trained employees to choose well. If you’re not satisfied, plan a short shopping trip to purchase the fresh items on your list. For everything else, use pickup or delivery.
    • Shop farmer’s markets, roadside stands, and smaller specialty stores for fresh produce, as long as safety protocols are followed. This way you can choose your fresh items without having to walk through large, crowded supermarkets.
    • If you’re a senior or have a high-risk condition, take advantage of early shopping hours specifically for you. Stores will be cleaner and less crowded.
  • People worry about getting coronavirus from touching items in the store, but they really need to be concerned with high touch surfaces like shopping carts, door knobs, and credit card machines. Keep your hands off of your face while shopping, use hand sanitizer when you leave the store, then wash your hands when you get home and again after putting away groceries.
  • Check out these resources from FDA: Shopping for food during the COVID-19 pandemic (article) and 12 Tips for Grocery Shopping During the Pandemic (video).

Babies, Toddlers & Added Sugars

As we talked about in last week’s blog, the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee warns that Americans are consuming too much added sugar. The Committee’s new Scientific Report recommends that children under age two consume no added sugars at all.

Let’s take a closer look at the under 2 age group. Consider these points from the Scientific Report:

  • Intake of added sugars increases significantly between 12 and 24 months of age. (The trend continues through the preschool years, peaking during adolescence and young adulthood.)
  • Toddlers age 12 to 24 months consume about six teaspoons of added sugars per day. That’s almost 10 percent of their recommended daily calories.
  • The main sources of added sugar are sweetened beverages (27 percent), sweet bakery products (15 percent), yogurt (7 percent), ready-to-eat cereals (6 percent), candy (6 percent), and other desserts (5 percent).

Once a baby turns one year old, they’re pretty much transitioning to the standard American diet. In fact, the Committee writes that “during this time between infancy and toddlerhood, large increases in added sugars and solid and saturated fats are observed.”

We need to get the no-sugar message to parents, grandparents, child care providers, and other caregivers. Important conversations to have:

  1. There’s no room in young children’s diets for sugary drinks and sweets. Those empty calories start a sugar habit that will last a lifetime.
  2. Check the Nutrition Facts label for every food and drink you buy. The amount of added sugars is listed on the label.
  3. As adults, your intake of added sugars should be limited as well. This helps you stay healthy while limiting your children’s exposure to high sugar foods.

Remember, the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans won’t be published until later this year. The recently released Scientific Report has been submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. These agencies will review the report and develop the next version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Dietary Guidelines: Keep on Cutting Added Sugars

The Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee was released last week. Among the recommendations is to limit intake of added sugars to 6% of daily calories. This is a decrease from the 10% recommended in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Considering that an estimated 63 percent of Americans aren’t meeting the 10% goal, we have our work cut out for us! Sugar sweetened beverages are a good place to start.

The Scientific Report says that about 1/3 to 1/2 of the added sugars we consume comes from sugary drinks. Here’s a look at the percent of added sugar intake from beverages (not including milk or 100% fruits juice) for different population groups:

  • Young children: 32 percent
  • Adolescents: 49 percent
  • Adults (age 20-64): 58 percent
    • Pregnant women: 48 percent
    • Lactating women: 31 percent
  • Older adults (age 65+): 35 percent

We have lots of materials to help you teach about added sugars, sugary drinks, and better beverage choices, including:

  • Are You Drinking Candy materials — to show just how much sugar is in common drinks like soda, sweet tea, and sports drinks.
  • Sugar Math PowerPoint show — to teach clients and students how to get from “10% or 6% of daily calories” to the grams of sugar shown on the Nutrition Facts panel.
  • Food Label materials — to find grams of added sugar on the Nutrition Facts panel and make sense of the % Daily Value.

Here are five points to share about cutting down on sugar sweetened beverages:

  1. Break down the 6% recommendation so folks can understand it. Using a 2000 calorie diet as an example, you’re looking at 30 grams of added sugar, which is equal to 7.5 teaspoons of sugar.
  2. Show them where to find added sugars on the food label. The number is given in grams and % Daily Value.
  3. Identify their sugary beverage of choice. The Advisory Committee found that these drinks provide the most added sugar to our diet: soft drinks, fruit drinks, sports and energy drinks, smoothies, coffee and tea with added sugar.
  4. Keep track of the sugary beverages you’re drinking, then make a plan to cut the number of ounces down gradually. Alternatively, some people might just want to make a clean break all at once.
  5. Brainstorm low- or no-sugar options to replace their favorite sugary drink.

Remember, the 6% added sugar recommendation is in the recently released Scientific Report, which was submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last week. Now these two agencies will come up with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans — the recommendations on what the average American should eat and drink to promote health and prevent chronic disease.

We’ll see if the 6% added sugar limit makes it into the 2020 Dietary Guidelines that will be published by the end of the year.

 

 

Getting Zzz’s during COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic might be keeping your clients up at night. Or it may be causing them to sleep too much. Both scenarios are concerning because sleep is key to good health.

Sleep problems can impact body weight, mood, and brain function. Sleep deficiency is linked to many chronic health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and depression.

Our Sleep Right Poster teaches the benefits of sleep and how to eat, drink, and exercise to get a good night’s sleep. You could use it to start a conversation with your clients about how they’re sleeping these days. Maybe they can identify with one (or more) of these anti-sleep behaviors:

  1. Screen-checkers are on their devices right up until bedtime. The blue light from screens interferes with your body’s production of melatonin, which can make it hard to fall asleep. Turn off your devices at least an hour before bedtime.
  2. Mind-racers have trouble quieting their brain to get into sleep mode. Calm down with physical relaxation exercises, meditation, or soothing bedtime stories (use podcasts or apps like Calm and Headspace).
  3. Toss-and-turners try to force sleep. If you can’t fall asleep within 15-30 minutes, staying in bed is just going to make it worse. Get up and do something quiet and relaxing until you feel sleepy. But keep the lights low.
  4. Catch-uppers sleep late on the weekends to make up for sleepless weeknights. It’s best to have a consistent bedtime and wake-up time every day of the week. And a pre-bedtime routine lets your brain and body know it’s almost time for sleep.
  5. Nappers come in two varieties. Power-nappers take short naps that are refreshing and make them more productive. Long-nappers take — you guessed it — long naps that leave them feeling groggy and can interfere with night-time sleep. Napping after 3pm isn’t a good idea.

There are also lots of sleep-related apps you can try. Check out this list from Healthline.com.

 

 

Obesity, Severe Obesity & COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated its list of underlying medical conditions that put individuals at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. One of the changes is obesity.

The CDC says that strong and consistent evidence now shows that obesity with a BMI of 30+ increases risk for severe COVID-19 illness. Previously, only severe obesity (BMI of 40+) was linked to complications. (See the evidence used to determine risks here.)

This means that more Americans are in danger of becoming very sick if they get COVID-19. According to the CDC, about 42 percent of U.S. adults have obesity, while about 9 percent have severe obesity.

With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise across the country, what can nutrition and health educators do?

1. Remind people who have obesity to be even more careful to protect themselves. The CDC advises:

  • Limit your interactions with other people as much as possible.
  • Take precautions to prevent getting COVID-19 when you do interact with others.
  • If you start feeling sick and think you may have COVID-19, get in touch with your healthcare provider within 24 hours.

2. Empower people who have obesity to make changes to lose weight (or at least maintain their weight during these stressful times). Our 12 Lessons of Wellness & Weight Loss Program program is perfect for this:

  • With 12 PowerPoint shows, you can customize the program. Spread the 12 lessons over a month, several months, or a year. Or let your clients choose which lesson(s) they want to tackle first.
  • Use the included Leader Guide to create contests and incentives for each lesson. Since your audience will likely be viewing the lessons from home, it’s nice to add the personal touch of sending them a handwritten note or prizes like our wristbands, stickers, and bookmarks.
  • Supplement the PowerPoint shows with printed material. We provide PDF handout sets for each lesson so you can send them to participants.

The CDC emphasizes that we’re learning more about COVID-19 every day. Make sure to keep your clients, employees, and students up to date. And remind them to wear a mask!

Sit Less, Move More when Working from Home

COVID-19 has changed many people’s exercise habits. Some of us are getting outside more with the kids, taking walks, hiking, and cycling. Others miss the gym and group exercise classes, finding it hard to get motivated to move on our own.

Even if you’re exercising regularly, it’s also important to sit less and move more throughout the day. Working from home probably impacts this type of movement. Maybe you’re not walking from the bus stop to the office building anymore. Maybe you’re not leaving your desk for meetings. And taking a break could mean just walking a few steps to the kitchen or bathroom.

Our Workday Workout Poster provides tips to help people sit less and move more during the workday. Here’s how to tweak the message for those working from home due to COVID-19:

  1. Turn your commute to a workout: If you no longer have a commute, take a walk or ride your bike around the block before you start your workday.
  2. Hit the gym at lunchtime: If going to the gym isn’t an option, plan on doing a workout video when you break for lunch. Or schedule three 10-minute exercise videos throughout your day. YouTube has plenty of choices for all levels and time constraints.
  3. Walk while you talk: You can still do this! Walk around the house while you talk on the phone. Take a walk outside if you’re on a longer phone call or virtual meeting when it’s appropriate.
  4. Work standing up: Ask your boss about getting a standing desk for home. If that’s not an option, try putting your laptop on the kitchen counter or an ironing board. Make it a habit to stand up during conference calls or virtual meetings.
  5. Meet, don’t just text: When you’re in the office, you can walk over to a co-worker’s desk instead of texting or sending an email. When you’re working from home, you’ll have to be more creative, unless your co-worker is your neighbor! One option is to think about who you could walk to see if you were in the office. When you’re ready to send them a message, get up and walk around the house or up and down a flight of stairs just before (or right after) you hit send.

Some of these tips might seem small, but getting into the habit of doing lots of smaller things will ensure that you’re moving more throughout the day no matter where you’re working.

 

Nutrition Education in the COVID-19 Era

What does nutrition and health education look like in the COVID-19 era? People want to know how to …

  • Stay healthy, boost their immune system, and reduce their chance of catching the virus.
  • Prevent or manage chronic diseases, like diabetes, that can lead to serious COVID-19 complications.
  • Save money at the supermarket and cook healthy meals at home.

We have a collection of COVID-19 Era Nutrition Education materials to help you teach these topics. But what about social distancing and people who want to learn in a no-contact setting? The PowerPoint shows in our COVID-19 collection make it easy to offer engaging online workshops that meet your clients’ needs.

Here’s one example of how you could use our shows:

Saving money at the supermarket is a hot topic right now. You could offer a two-part online series that appeals to the broad audience of folks who, pre-COVID, were in the habit of eating out a lot.

Start out by dispelling the myth that healthy food is expensive – our Healthy Eating on a Budget PowerPoint presentation proves it. Your clients will learn:

  • Cost per ounce and nutrition facts for choices from each MyPlate food group.
  • How to plan meals, build a shopping list, and limit food waste.
  • Budget-friendly ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
  • Lots of other money-saving tips.

Since saving money means cooking at home more, the second part of your online series should be our 25 Ingredients Into 15 Fast Healthy Meals PowerPoint show. With real photos of real food, your audience will learn to prepare a week’s worth of low-fat, high-fiber meals. We even provide tips on how to use our recipes for your own cooking demo in case you want to add that to your online workshop.

If this idea for a two-part workshop series doesn’t work for you, just change it up. Maybe split the information into 15-minute sessions. And all of our PowerPoint shows come with downloadable handouts that you can send to clients as a follow-up to what they’ve learned.

If you are planning in-person classes or events, check out our new custom printed face masks

COVID-19, Obesity, & Weight Loss

The link between obesity and COVID-19 is scary. For people who’ve struggled with their weight for years, it might be a much-needed wake-up call. They may be ready to face the issue head-on, once and for all.

So how can we help them succeed? If you’re working with a chronic dieter, chances are the scale is not a friend. Daily or even weekly weigh-ins might do more harm than good.

Yes, research shows that people who weigh themselves frequently are more successful at losing weight and keeping it off. But for some people, the number on the scale holds too much power. Whether it’s up or down, it can sabotage even the best of intentions.

Take the focus (and power) away from that daily number on the scale by looking at Body Mass Index (BMI) and waist circumference. Our BMI 101 PowerPoint lesson teaches people how to calculate their BMI, measure waist circumference, and take steps to lower both.

Here are some tips for using BMI and waist circumference to help people get to a healthy weight:

Talk to your clients about how they relate to the scale. Does seeing the number go up cause a downward spiral of self-hate and emotional eating, followed by a vow to start fresh tomorrow? Does the thrill of seeing the number go down make you think, ‘I’ve been good, so I can afford to have a little treat today’?

Calculate your BMI: use an online BMI calculator or the Body Mass Index Table.

  • BMI of 25.0 to 29.9 = overweight.
  • BMI of 30.0+ = obese.
  • CDC warns that a BMI of 40+ puts people at higher risk for complications from COVID-19.

Measure waist circumference accurately by following instructions found here. It’s probably worth it to measure three times and take an average.

  • A waist circumference of more than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for non-pregnant women increases the risk of obesity-related chronic diseases.

Set a realistic goal:

  • Lowering BMI by 2-3 points is enough to improve weight-related health risks. This is equivalent to a 10% weight loss in overweight or obese individuals.
  • Reducing waist circumference indicates the loss of abdominal fat, even if BMI doesn’t go down. This helps reduce your risk of heart disease.

Remind your clients to practice self-care, especially during the pandemic. Stress and poor sleep habits make it hard to lose weight, so focus on these things as you make other lifestyle changes.

Use the code MYPLATE to get 10% off plus free shipping for all items now.

What Does Farm to Table Mean to You?

When you hear the phrase Farm to Table, what comes to mind? Perhaps …

  • Shopping close to home, at a farmer’s market, out in the fresh air.
  • Supporting local farmers and getting to know them.
  • Small trucks bringing food straight from the farm (not tractor-trailers hauling it across the country).
  • Just-picked fruits and vegetables at their peak for freshness, taste, and nutrition.
  • Finding new varieties of fruits and veggies and using them in new recipes.
  • A tasty way to fill up half of MyPlate.
  • All of the above?

We have a nice collection of Farm to Table materials and I especially like our Bring the Farm to Your Table notepads. Here are some ways to use them today:

  1. When meeting with a client, talk about where the nearest farmer’s market is located and what’s in season (here’s a handy online guide by state). Write this information on the notepad, tear off that page, and let them take it home.
  2. Send a handwritten note to clients, co-workers, or students – yes, by snail mail! Include a tip about a nearby farmer’s market and suggestions about what to buy.
  3. Host a photo contest on social media. Ask people to take pictures of their favorite farmer’s market or farm stand, or a healthy dish they made with locally-grown produce. Winner(s) get a Farm to Table notepad (or wristband).

In the workplace, our Bring the Farm to Your Table poster will brighten things up and remind employees to stop at the farmer’s market for some delicious fresh produce. Provide some healthy recipes for what’s in-season.

In July, we celebrate National Berry Month, Peach Month, and Watermelon Month – you could spend a week on each fruit, providing facts, recipes, and preparation ideas!