Germy Water Bottles

Many people are conscientiously carrying refillable water bottles.  One key positive here is that drinking water  on a regular basis gives the  body the fluid it needs to keep itself healthy https://news.nutritioneducationstore.com/hydrate-for-health/.  Also using a refillable bottle helps keep more waste from plastic water bottles out of the trash. There’s also the cost savings of refilling your own bottle compared to purchasing bottled water whenever you’re thirsty.

But the question is:  how often do you need to wash these refillable cups and bottles?  This would be of even more concern if you put something in the bottle other than plain water—perhaps a sports drink, flavor packets or made infused water with cucumbers or lemons.

A recent study and on-line report in Treadmill Reviews http://www.treadmillreviews.ca/water-bottle-germs-revealed/  says that unwashed reusable water bottle could harbor bacteria.  Their team swabbed the lids of reusable water bottles and had the samples tested at an independent lab to determine the types and levels of bacteria present.

They looked at 12 different bottles and four different types. Each water bottle had been used by an athlete for a week and not washed.   The samples showed that these water bottles each had a unique combination of bacteria. Not all were “bad” germs, but some were the types known to cause illnesses.

The type of bottle made a difference. Slide-top bottles harbored the most bacteria.  This makes sense because these bottles have direct contact with the mouth and more nooks and crannies for bacteria to grow.  Bottles with squeeze-tops and screw-tops respectively had fewer bacteria.  Bottles with straw tops contained the least amount of bacteria.

The folks at Treadmill Review admit that they are not researchers or microbiologists.  Even though this topic could probably use a little more scientific research methods and the types of bacteria studied a little more, it does give us all some “food for thought”.

If you use a refillable water bottle or are thinking of buying one…here are five important tips to follow to avoid getting ill:

  1. Don’t let a half-full bottle of water set in your gym bag between uses, empty wash and dry between uses.
  2. Select one that uses a straw and replace the straw frequently.
  3. Check the label to see if both the bottle and the lid are dishwasher safe.
  4. Wash after every use in the dishwasher or with hot water and soap.
  5. Rinse well. Allow to dry.

Don’t let your quest for good hydration expose you to unnecessary risks.  Use some common sense when it comes to these water bottles.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS

Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

Are Your Holidays Healthful? A Quiz

Do you keep your holiday celebrations good for your health? Find out with this brand-new quiz!

Questions:

Dancing at a Party1. What is the most featured item in the display of foods at your holiday party?

a) Cookies
b) Meats
c) Fruits and vegetables
d) Cheeses

2. True or false? I make sure to get at least some physical activity during most days of the week.

3. Some smart ways to control portion size at meals include…

a) Making a healthy plate.
b) Sharing a meal
c) Being aware of the calorie content of the foods you purchase.
d) All of the above

4. True or false? I make sure to eat a healthful high-fiber breakfast every morning.

Answers:

Holiday Platter1. c) Fruits and vegetables
For the most healthful holiday celebration, make fruits and vegetables the start of any buffet you set up. You can keep things simple with crudités and some yogurt-based dips, or you can get fancy and roast up your favorite vegetables and serve them on a platter, drizzled with a little bit of sauce and garnished with parsley. Add bowls of berries and sliced fruit too!

2. True
To stay healthy during the holidays, it’s wise to sneak in a little physical activity whenever you can, even though things are busy. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, “Being physically active is one of the most important steps that Americans of all ages can take to improve their health.”

Check the Label3. d) All of the above
If you’re having a holiday gathering at a restaurant or coffee shop, check out any nutrition information that’s available online. Make sure that the portion size of what you want to order is reasonable. If it’s not, look for alternatives. Then, if you want to get or make something that only comes in a large portion, share it with a friend or family member. Finally, if you’re picking up a treat for a holiday gathering, check the labels! Use the Nutrition Facts to calculate serving size, nutrient content, and much more! Making a healthy plate will help you put your foods in the right proportions, too.

4. True
Starting your day off with a balanced and high-fiber breakfast is a smart way to stay healthy this holiday season. After all, breakfast is associated with a lower BMI, fewer calories consumed during the day, and a better diet. Plus, a healthful breakfast not only gives you energy, but also increases cognitive function. Some ideas include high-fiber cereal with nonfat milk, and fruit, or lowfat yogurt and fruit, or egg whites and fruit. A smoothie made with fruit and skim milk is also a great start.

How did you do? Do you know the nuts and bolts of staying healthy during the holidays?

Summer Salad Coloring Page

It’s time for another fun and relaxing coloring page. This one highlights the joys of salad!

What do you think?

Our artist has also made a simpler one for kids…

These pages are perfect icebreakers! They’re also great as activities people can do while they’re waiting for class to start or if they’ve finished an assignment ahead of a group. They’re also fun prizes and take-home activities! How will these coloring sheets make your life easier?

Here are the printable PDFs!

Increase Engagement with a Healthful Eating Pattern Game

We’re all familiar with the benefits of building a healthful eating pattern, but sometimes actually executing on that plan is easier said than done.

Make a healthful eating pattern more compelling with this fun game that kids and adults alike will enjoy!

Food Group Tag!

Here’s how you play…

Game Setup:

Divide your group into two separate teams. One team needs to have five people. These are the taggers, who will work together to tag everyone in the other group. Assign each tagger one of the following food groups…

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Grains
  • Protein
  • Dairy

Everyone who is not a tagger is an empty serving. Each empty serving can work as a free agent. Their goal is to avoid the taggers.

Explain that the taggers are seeking food groups to make a healthful plate. If an empty serving gets tagged, he or she must freeze in place and announce their new food group (determined by the tagger, who represents one of the 5 food groups), and then think of a healthful food that fits that group, which they then announce as well.

The taggers must work together to create a balanced plate (so don’t let one tagger go crazy and tag all the empty servings, claiming them for a single food group).

Game Play:

Set a timer for four minutes and move your group to a location that’s conducive to running around.

Taggers must line up shoulder-to-shoulder. Arrange the empty servings five feet in front of the tagger line. Once “go” is called, the empty servings must evade the taggers for four minutes.

Once the game time is finished, “stop” must be called. At that point, everyone freezes.

Have the untagged empty servings move to one side of the game area, then arrange the tagged empty servings into their food groups. Did the taggers craft a balanced plate? Why or why not?

If the taggers managed to create a balanced plate, then they win. If the empty servings threw off the balance, then they win instead.

This active game offers a fun way to visualize a healthful eating pattern while providing an opportunity for some light physical activity as well.

Game created by Sean Tuohy

3 Activity Ideas to Boost Whole Grain Knowledge

Whole grains are often great for health, yet most Americans consume too many refined grains and miss out on the benefits of whole grains… while adding excess empty calories to their eating patterns.

To help your audience learn about whole grains, their health benefits, and how to incorporate them into a healthful eating pattern, I’ve put together a few engaging activities just for you!

(And, if you’re really patient, you’ll find a PDF handout hidden in the post as well).

Take a look…

Activity #1: Whole Grain Shopping Sleuths

Gather a few packages of foods that have varying whole grain content. Divide participants into groups and give each group a collection of those packages. Have the groups line up their foods in terms of most to least whole grains per serving.

Once everyone has finished making their selections, review their work as a class.

Highlight the importance of using the Nutrition Facts label to evaluate whole grain content and draw everyone’s attention to which words to look for in ingredient lists. Make a note of front-of-package claims as well. Was anyone fooled by statements that hint being wholesome but are not whole grain, like, “100% Stone Ground,” “Multigrain,” “Honey Wheat,” etc? Explain the importance of 100% whole grains. Note that stone ground can be whole grain but you should check the ingredient list to be sure.

If time permits, have the groups combine to line up all the product packages from most to least whole grains. How did everyone apply the knowledge from your discussion?

Activity #2: Whole Grain Swaps

This is a brainstorming activity, so all you’ll need is a space to write down people’s ideas (a whiteboard or giant notepad works especially well) along with a writing utensil. Much of the information that could help your clients internalize this lesson can also be found in the Go for the Whole Grain poster, though it is not required.

Discuss the health benefits of whole grains. How do they impact blood sugar? Heart health? General nutrient intake?

Once your group seems to have a solid grasp of the importance of whole grains to a balanced eating pattern, move on to common grain foods. Which contain whole grains? Which contain refined grains?

Finally, to get to the crux of the matter, list common refined grain foods on your writing surface. What substitutions can people make in order to consume fewer refined grains and more whole grains? Discuss the ideas as a class, writing out compelling switches as you encounter them.

Activity #3: Whole Grain Quiz

Distribute copies of the handout How Well Do You Know Whole Grains? Have participants take the quiz individually (this makes a great icebreaker or take-home assignment too), and then bring everyone together to go over the answers, addressing any questions they might have about the information provided. If you’d like, you can distribute prizes like these whole grain stickers to people who got the most correct answers.

Activity Idea: Crostini Bar

You guys, I just got the coolest request from longtime reader Pat Hunter.

Pat wrote…

I am working on a simple demo for a table I am planning on the topic of plant-based meals. I thought a crostini bar might be an inviting stop for customers. Everyone enjoys make-your-own bars. I would like to use a whole grain cracker, hummus, etc. Have you ever created a handout on this topic?

I haven’t made a handout on this particular topic, but today I want to share a bunch of strategies in this blog post.

Here’s everything you need to build a tasty and appealing crostini bar that’s also good for health!

The Bases:

Crostini make the most sense as the base for a crostini bar. For a nutrient boost, make sure that you’re slicing and toasting whole wheat bread or using pre-made crostini that highlight whole grains.

As Pat suggested, whole grain crackers are also a delightful base for the toppings, and in this day and age it might be wise to throw in some healthful gluten-free crackers as well.

Sliced cucumbers can also be good bases for the toppings in this bar if people are looking to go low-carb or get an extra veggie boost.

The Middles:

Plain hummus is a great topping for the next section of the crostini. Its mild flavor complements the toppings to follow, and its creamy texture makes it an effective “glue” for holding the toppings to the bases. Set out a few different flavors of hummus and let participants try their favorites.

Artichoke tapenade, olive tapenade, and red pepper tapenade are all also colorful and tasty options for the “middle” section of the crostini bar. Choose the options with the lowest sodium to keep your bar heart-healthy.

Finally, bean dip makes a great high-fiber addition to this crostini bar.

The Toppings:

Now let’s add some color! Sliced and diced raw vegetables are phenomenal toppings for a crostini bar. Plus, they add the necessary visual appeal and crunch that a topping should provide. Go for a mix of things like shredded carrots, halved grape tomatoes, ribboned cucumber (use a peeler to make thin ribbons), diced celery, sliced radishes, chopped bell peppers — really whatever is in season and looks appealing would be great at this part of the bar.

A shredded green salad with a light dressing can also be a great crostini topper. Consider ribbons of raw kale or chard, bulked up with shredded carrots or Brussels sprouts, then tossed with a bit of oil and fresh lemon juice.

You can also add steamed and sliced beets with goat cheese as a final option in the toppings section of your bar.

The Finishing Touches:

Salt, pepper, olive oil, citrus juice, fresh herbs, toasted and chopped/sliced nuts, and/or salad dressings can all add the perfect “finishing touch” to a crostini bar. Consider setting out a selection of those ingredients at the end of the bar for people to add to their creations before they eat them.

So, what do you think? Are you ready to build a crostini bar for your next presentation or event?

Display of the Month: New Food Label

It’s time for another display of the month, and this one is all about the new format of the Nutrition Facts label. Did you know that these new labels are already hitting stores? Help your clients use the new food labels to improve their eating patterns by inspiring them with this great display…

The Materials:

The Activities:

  • The Label Says: Nutrition Facts Label Game
  • Food Label Comparison: What a Difference a Label Makes

The Display:

Instead of setting up a tabletop display as we’ve done in the past, this month’s display can be arranged on a bulletin board or a spare space on any wall. If you’d like to adapt it to a tabletop display, you absolutely can, and you’ll probably need a few of these fabulous Tabletop Easels to ease the transition.

Anyway, make either or both of the New Food Label Posters or Food Label Math Posters the center of your display (if you have more room, you can also use the 48-inch by 36-inch Nutrition Facts Banner). Surround your poster or banner with stickers and bookmarks so that the whole display looks like a sunburst with the posters or banner in the middle.

Either tear off a few handouts from the Nutrition Facts Tearpad or mount the whole thing to the wall just to the right of your sunbursts so that interested parties can take a sheet home for themselves. Balance the handouts on the other side with the 26-inch by 62-inch Food Label Banner and Stand. Arrange the Nutrition Facts Floor Sticker in front of your display for an extra-intriguing draw to your information, then step back and admire the view.

Activity Leader Guide:

To play The Label Says: Nutrition Facts Label Game, you’ll need a projector, a screen, and a copy of the The Label Says: Nutrition Facts Label PowerPoint presentation. Everything else you need is built into the presentation itself, so as long as you review it before you start presenting, you’ll simply need to turn it on and work your way through the slides. In this game, participants will evaluate a food based on information from its Nutrition Facts label, learning common label-reading mistakes and exploring healthful eating pattern strategies along the way. The I Know How to Read a Food Label Stickers and New Food Label Bookmarks make great prizes and incentives!

For the second activity, Food Label Comparison: What a Difference a Label Makes, you’ll need to do a bit more legwork. Bring in a few varieties of the same foods (3 fruit juices, 3 cans of beans, etc) that each have different Nutrition Facts. Compare across the types of foods and find the most healthful options as a group. What parts of the label were the most useful? Why? Use this activity to highlight the impact of reading a food label on health, explaining that the new Nutrition Facts label is a helpful tool for developing and maintaining a healthful eating pattern.

Other Fantastic Display Ideas:

We’ve been putting together these display posts for a while now, so there’s lots of inspiration available for a wide range of health and nutrition topics. Which ones will be the most useful for you?

Store Links:

Here’s a closer look at some of the top new food label resources that my team and I have created…

Nutrition Math Quiz

Recently I was asked for STEM nutrition and health materials. Do you ever address STEM topics with your clients?

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math, and these subjects are a priority among many of the educators I know. To add one more resource to your arsenal of STEM topics, I am proud to present this quick nutrition math quiz, which can be used in your next email blast or as an icebreaker for your next presentation (or however else you’d like).

Nutrition Math Quiz:

Question #1: How many ounces of liquid are there in a cup?

A) 4
B) 6
C) 8
D) 1o

Question #2: At what temperature (in degrees Fahrenheit) does water usually boil?

A) 202
B) 212
C) 222
D) 500

Question #3: How many grams of sugar are there in a teaspoon?

A) 4
B) 8
C) 12
D) 16

Question #4: What is the energy density of a pound of flour?

A) 1651
B) 1492
C) 1000
D) 6

Question #5: What is the energy density of a pound of sugar?

A) 1558
B) 1607
C) 1775
D) 2000

BONUS: Compare the energy density of a pound of potatoes with the energy density of a pound of French fries.

Nutrition Math Quiz Answers:

  1. C) 8
  2. B) 212, though altitude affects the boiling point. To calculate the temperature at which water boils in your area, take 1 degree away from 212 for every 500 feet you are above sea level.
  3. A) 4
  4. A) 1651
  5. C) 1775
  6. Bonus: A pound of potatoes has roughly 347 calories, while a pound of French fries has approximately 1,415 calories. The regular potatoes have roughly 1/4 of the energy density of French fries, which makes them the more healthful option because they are lower in calories and empty calories, yet higher in nutrients than their fried counterparts.

Here is a collection of other fabulous STEM resources…

 

3 Activity Ideas to Make Every Bite Count

New wristbands have hit the store and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Check out these great reminders to help your clients build a healthful eating pattern:

 

The thing I love about wristbands is that they are present every day. You can get the reminder whether your motivation is waxing or waning, and their placement on the wrist ensures that wristbands don’t get overlooked. The eye-catching color of these particular wristbands is an added bonus.

Today I want to celebrate the debut of these wristbands by featuring 3 activities that bring home the message that it’s important to make every bite count. These wristbands can be used as prizes for achievement and/or participation.

Activity #1: Word Cloud

Give each participant a blank sheet of paper and some colored pens or pencils. Have everyone write “Make Every Bite Count” in large letters in the middle of the page. Then, working individually, have each student write down words that can inspire them to make every bite count. Recommend varying the font size based on that idea’s importance to each student.

Once everyone has created their word clouds, reconvene the group and discuss what they wrote. You can either collect their papers and turn them into a display, or create a larger word cloud on a piece of posterboard with everyone’s suggestions.

Activity #2: Bite Buffet

Have each person bring in enough bite-size portions of their favorite healthful snack for each other member of the group to try. (Discuss food allergies and aversions before introducing this activity). As people snack, discuss what makes each food healthful. How does a single bite play into a larger eating pattern?

Activity #3: Bedazzle the Band

Distribute one Make Every Bite Count wristband to each person, along with a few colorful sharpies. Discuss the key topics addressed in this page, highlighting MyPlate’s encouragement to make small changes and remember that every food and drink you consume matters.

Have people decorate their wristbands with images of healthful foods and drinks or other reminders that every bite is important, keeping attention focused on the central premise highlighted on the band itself. This can be done in a group setting or individually at home.

And here are a few more wristbands for your perusal…

Display of the Month: MyPlate

It’s been a while since we’ve done a display of the month, and now is the perfect time to revive the tradition with MyPlate!

The Materials:

The Activities:

  • Food Group Lottery
  • Food Group Lighting Rounds

The Details:

If you have access to the wall behind your table, set up either or both of the MyPlate Banners along with the Art of Health Poster. If you don’t have access to that wall, use just the MyPlate Banner and Stand alongside your table and add the Art of Health Poster to your table (you can prop it on a Tabletop Easel). In front of your table, arrange the MyPlate Floor Decal to add extra interest to your booth.

On the table itself, scatter the resources included in the MyPlate Wellness Fair Kit, leaving room for some MyPlate Handouts and the prizes (MyPlate StickersMyPlate Vegetable StickersMyPlate Fruit Stickers and/or MyPlate Bookmarks) you’re going to offer in order to draw people to your booth and reward participation during activities. In one corner of the booth, arrange the materials you’ll need for the food group lottery.

And, just for fun, finish setting up by tying on a MyPlate Apron, which you can later give away as a prize, if you’d like!

Now, on to the activities!

For the Food Group Lottery, have volunteers write down their names and favorite food groups on individual pieces of paper and put them all in a clear bowl or box. Shuffle all the submissions, then draw 10 winners. Reward them with the prizes listed above, or these adorable MyPlate buttons.

For the Food Group Lightning Rounds, gather all your participants in a circle in front of your booth. Explain that you’re going to name a food group and then each person has to list a healthful food that would fit in that group, one at a time. If a person can’t think of a food or lists something that isn’t healthful, he or she is out and the circle gets smaller. Repeat with the rest of the food groups until you’ve got a small group of winners remaining. All of the previously-suggested prizes would make great rewards, as would these pretty MyPlate plates!

Previous Display Inspiration:

Free Handout:

And, to add one more fun aspect to your display, here’s a free MyPlate coloring page. How will you incorporate this into your booth?

Finally, here are some fantastic workbooks to help your clients learn valuable health and nutrition lessons…