12 Hot Topics for 2019

Are you looking for a hot topic for your next class, workshop, or client consultation? Or for Nutrition Month (R)?

As much as people want a magic bullet for their health, teachers want a magic topic that will engage, educate, and motivate their audience. Here we have assembled all of the best and hottest topics for our clients for 2019. With nutrition there is always plenty of lessons to help people learn anything from the basics, to skipping fads, to shopping and preparing meals with ease, or to making better choices when dining out!  The 2019 Nutrition Month theme is now all about reviewing the benefits of nutrition.

The hottest topics listed here are chosen from our expert writers’ recommendations, research in the news, views from our blog posts, many telephone and email inquiries with customers and readers, Amazon bestseller book lists, and over 100 food, health, and nutrition professional blogs that we follow. 

Here is the best hot topic list that you can use to find our matching resources and to plan your own presentations and classes.

  1. Kitchen How-To Cooking Demos for Seasonal Items – this is always our most popular topic and the how-to section in Amazon Cookbooks reflects that people want science, everyday cooking, more science, family recipes, and “low-calorie, high-flavor taste”
  2. Benefits of Family Meals and using MyPlate plates to help kids eat more fruits and veggies
  3. Plant Based Diet Basics: Focus on a plant slant! How to Plan Meals, New Foods, Benefits
  4. Ethnic Food Discoveries: Asian is HOT! Vietnamese, Indian, Afghanistan, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, and more! We see more ethnic foods in all grocery stores and the National Restaurant Association reports that global is the hottest and most consistent trend to date.
  5. Sugar: How to Find It, How to Consume Less
  6. Meal Planning Skill Building: Go interactive with your audience!
  7. Tests and Quizzes: What Do We Know? What Did We Learn? Quizzes, puzzles, and tests are consistently popular.
  8. Dietary Guidelines: The Dietary Guidelines are chocked full of information; review the current guidelines while waiting for the 2020 update. All of our posts regarding the guidelines are always very popular. 
  9. Fiber and Nutrient Density: a great combo lesson and way for consumers to understand nutrient quality plus fiber and gut health are always popular. One dietitian author of F-Factor has had great success using fiber education to help people lose weight.
  10. Weight Loss – a recent CDC survey found that half of all adults over the age of 20 have tried to lose weight over the past year and two thirds of all adults in the US are still overweight or obese. Check out our 12 Lessons Program!
  11. Self Control – for better habits and weight loss success – October 2018 study and there are numerous studies on sleep and weight control
  12. How Do We Define Healthy Food? Real Food! Comfort Food! This is according to one foodservice director and health educator making a difference in K-12 cafeterias. It is a more positive term and strategy for kids than health food or whole food. More examples of positive terms along these lines are real foods, slow foods, and local foods. 

All of these and more are in the new theme finder!

Check out the new products:

Or the engaging tools for Nutrition Month:

Portion Control Activity Ideas

Portion control is often key to maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the risk of chronic disease.

We’ve all heard about the many benefits of a healthful eating pattern that incorporates proper portion control.

Making portion control something that is accessible and appealing to your clients, on the other hand, can be more of a challenge.

That’s why my team and I created these beautiful portion control plates!

Portion Control Plate

We designed these plates to help consumers stay on track when it comes to maintaining a healthful diet, practicing portion control, getting regular exercise, and staying hydrated.

By using this plate to dish up their meals, people can save up to 60% of their daily calories per meal (compared to just loading a plate by eye like most people do). This plate keeps foods in the proper proportions and portion sizes, as recommended by MyPlate.

The inside of the plate guides people to balancing their plates with:

  • 3 ounces of lean protein
  • 1/2 cup of cooked grains
  • 1 cup of vegetables
  • 1 cup of fruits

Meanwhile, the rim of the plate is full of reminders to sip the right kind of beverage and get moving from time to time!

The beautiful color pattern of the plates makes them attractive for home, picnics, the office, and parties. Plus, they work beautifully in wellness fairs, cooking demos, classrooms, and one-on-one consultations.

Load up that plate

To celebrate the release of these wonderful nutrition education materials, I want to share two activities that you can do with these plates today!

Activity #1: Fill the Portion Plate

What you’ll need:

  • Enough portion control plates for everyone
  • Magazines
  • Scissors

What you’ll do:

  1. Assemble your group, pass out the plates, and make sure everyone has access to scissors and magazines. Explain that they are going to cut out pictures of food and then sort them into the appropriate areas of the portion control plate.
  2. Offer your participants some time to cut out their selections, then explain the next part of the activity.
  3. Pick a food group and call it out. The participants must find a food that fits into that group (from their collection of magazine images) and place it on the correct section of the plate, holding up both the picture and the plate so that you can see it. Award points for speed and accuracy, correcting any misconceptions that may crop up.
  4. After the game is over, you discuss the results and let the class go or add a twist. For the latter, see who can find the healthiest food to fit in a food group the fastest. Discuss. What makes each food a good fit for its food group? What nutrients does it contain? How much saturated fat, added sugars, or sodium is in the food?

Portion Control Planning:

What you’ll need:

  • 1 portion control plate per person
  • Paper
  • Pens or pencils

What you’ll do:

  1. Pass out the plates to each participant. Give everyone pens and pieces of paper too.
  2. Have everyone examine the food groups on the plate. What are the portion sizes like? How do the proportions work? Discuss what they notice.
  3. Have people list the days of the week across the tops of their papers. Using the plates, have them plan meals that would fill the plates in the proper portions for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on each day of the week.
  4. Once everyone has their ideas mapped out, ask for volunteers to share their plans. What inspired them? Why? Which ideas are the best for a healthful eating pattern? What makes them healthful?
  5. Once your discussion is finished, let your participants keep their plates, and, if you’ll see them again, check in on their progress. Do they like using these new plates? Why or why not?

I hope you liked this resource spotlight!

Here are some other great portion control materials — which will make your life easier?

Market Adventures: Dragon Fruit

PitayaWhen I travel, I love to check out what the locals are eating.

One way to do this is by visiting grocery stores and farmers’ markets in different cities and countries. I especially enjoy looking at the unique fruits and vegetables that I don’t usually find near my home.

Here are a few photos from a market we visited in Spain. Do you know what the top picture features? Hint: it’s a fruit.

The answer is pitahaya, also known as pitaya. In the United States, it’s commonly called dragon Fruit, and at this market you could get one for a little over $6. There, these fruits are often sliced in half and sold with a spoon for an easy snack on the go. There were a couple varieties and all were beautiful — red ones with white or pink or even red flesh or a yellow variety that had white flesh.

And in case you were wondering, yes, I bought one. I was told that the ones with pink flesh were sweeter, but I didn’t get a chance to compare them. My purchase tasted like a combination of a melon and a kiwi, and the black seeds provided a nice crunch.

More Dragon FruitSo I decided to do a little research about this amazing fruit. Want to see what I found?

The sign at the Spanish market said that their fruit came from Vietnam. Dragon fruit is commercially grown in South and Central America, Southeast Asia, and Israel. Dragon fruit is technically a cactus and peels easily — like a banana. And just like with a banana, you don’t eat the skin.

Nutritionally, 3 ½ ounces of dragon fruit (about ½ of 1 fruit) contains 1 gram of fiber and 9 milligrams of vitamin C. That’s about 15% of the amount of vitamin C that’s recommended daily for women. Dragon fruit with pink or red flesh is also known its lycopene content. Like many other fruits, dragon fruit is low in calories.

When selecting a dragon fruit, choose one that you know is ripe. You can tell when it’s ripe because it will give a little when squeezed, like a ripe avocado or peach. If it’s firm, then it needs a few more days at room temperature to ripen. When ripe, dragon fruit should be stored in the refrigerator and eaten within a week. Once cut, it should be refrigerated. Dragon fruit can be eaten alone, as part of a fruit salad, or juiced.

These certainly gave us nice taste memories from our trip.

Yellow Dragon FruitNow, am I suggesting that you go out and spend $6 for a piece of fruit every day? Not at all.

Instead, I like to encourage people to be adventurous with food. Go out on a limb and try something different every now and again. Everyone knows that we should be eating more fruits and vegetables, but the ordinary bananas, apples, green beans, and broccoli can get boring. No wonder it’s hard for people to get the 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day that are recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. If you’re going to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, you’ll have to do something about variety. Occasionally, try something fun, like dragon fruit.

Oh, and if you’re a health educator, consider planning a group trip to a local grocery store. People can look for something that the other members of the group haven’t tried before. Purchasing and/or sharing some unique fruits and vegetables with your clients or students can expand horizons, and who knows, maybe it’ll get them to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Wouldn’t that be great?

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University

And as a little bonus, here’s a free dragon fruit fact sheet, just for you!

Dragon Fruit

Remember, there are lots of great materials in the Nutrition Education Store!

Fruit and Vegetable Poster Set

Interactive MyPlate Shopping Presentation

Fruit Bulletin Board Kit