Diabetes & COVID-19

While having diabetes doesn’t make you more likely to catch the novel coronavirus, it does increase your chance of getting very sick if you do become infected. So how can we help people with diabetes who are anxious and afraid of COVID-19?

The American Diabetes Association has lots of helpful, practical information:

Another way to help people with diabetes is to recognize whether they are newly diagnosed or have lived with diabetes for years, the coronavirus pandemic could be a turning point for them. They might be motivated to learn more about their disease and to change their diet and lifestyle in hopes of controlling or reversing their diabetes.

With individual counseling or online group sessions, you can make sure they understand diabetes, how it progresses, and how it can be reversed or at least improved. Our new Diet and Type 2 Diabetes – Progression and Remission PowerPoint shows cover these concepts in detail. The three shows are:

  1. Diabetes Overview – this show covers the basics. It’s perfect for the newly diagnosed, but even those who have been living with diabetes will learn lots.
  2. Optimal Diet for Type 2 Diabetes – this show goes beyond food exchanges and carb counting. It teaches a Mediterranean- or DASH-style of eating that has the potential to reverse type 2 diabetes or at least keep blood sugar and weight under control.
  3. Guide to Losing Weight with Diabetes – this show goes into more detail on strategies for losing weight and keeping it off to improve or even reverse type 2 diabetes.

Don’t miss this chance to help people with diabetes take steps to a healthier life!

Clearing Up Coronavirus Confusion

There’s a lot of coronavirus confusion out there. From news reports and press conferences to social media and rumors, your clients, employees, and students are constantly exposed to new and sometimes conflicting information.

You can help clear up this confusion by sharing accurate, science-based information about the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve done the work for you with our new COVID-19 PowerPoint show with handouts. By learning the basics about the pandemic, we hope people will be better informed, stay safe, and even take steps to improve their health.

Here’s a sample of some of the many questions people are asking about the pandemic. Use them as a starting point for clearing up coronavirus confusion:

How can I stay safe? First and foremost, reiterate what everyone has been hearing about handwashing, wearing a mask, social distancing, and staying home when you’re sick. See all of the CDC’s prevention tips here.

How can I strengthen my immune system? This is a common question and many people are looking for a quick answer. Spoiler alert — there is none. But they can take this three-pronged approach to support good health and prevent chronic diseases:

  1. Eat a healthy diet that’s plant based, with plenty of fiber (MyPlate is always a good way to teach this!).
  2. Exercise at least 2.5 hours/week for adults (find more guidelines and the Move Your Way campaign here).
  3. Sleep well (see CDC tips here).

Can I go out? People are tired of staying home. As they see businesses opening up, they’ll want to get out more. But for some high-risk groups, this isn’t a good idea. Older adults and people who have certain underlying medical conditions need to take extra precautions. If you’re not high-risk, look out for those most vulnerable to COVID-19 by helping them with errands and wearing a mask. (Get the facts here.)

Do I have coronavirus? While you shouldn’t hesitate to call 911 when necessary, the CDC’s Coronavirus Self-Checker can help you figure out if you need to call your doctor to see about being tested.

As professionals, let’s keep the positive, science-based information coming! Spread the facts on social media using the CDC’s coronavirus social media kit.

Moving Through the Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our exercise habits, for better and for worse. Personally, I’m biking around my neighborhood more because there are fewer cars on the streets. But my 23-year old son misses his gym routine. And a friend recently posted on Facebook that her rear end hurts from sitting so much!

With many states opening up, some people might be ready to head back to the gym. Others will choose to stay home. It’s a good time to help your clients or students assess their exercise habits (or lack thereof) and figure out a way to keep moving throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are some topics you could cover:

Exercise for weight control: Our Exercise to Lose and Control Weight PowerPoint lesson explains that you burn twice as many calories when you’re moving as opposed to sitting, along with lots of other reasons to get off the couch or out of the office chair!

Remember the other benefits of regular exercise (150 minutes/week + strength training 2x/week):

  • Helps control blood sugar, and blood pressure
  • Reduces risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer
  • Strengthens your bones
  • Improves mood
  • Helps you sleep
  • Reduces stress

Make a plan: Move Your Way has an online Activity Planner that lets you set your own weekly goals, choose the activities you want to do, and print out your plan.

Work out at home: Our Home Exercise PowerPoint lesson covers all the bases, including tips on how to be a smart consumer when setting up a home gym; incorporating 10-minute periods of activity throughout the day; couch potato exercises; and more.

Think virtually: Many gyms and studios offer their classes online. There are lots of free options available as well. Look for YMCA videos on YouTube and check out the recommendations in this previous blog post.

Watch what you eat: Just because you’re exercising doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want. Consuming an extra 100 calories a day can result in a weight gain of 10 pounds per year!

Check out the CDC post on masks. Wearing a cloth mask ensures you do not infect other people while a surgical mask or N95 can ensure you don’t get infected if you are around a lot of people or sick people. Adopt the strategy recommended by your local experts or that you feel is best. If you are wearing a mask be careful not to overheat outdoors. Wear a hat, take plenty of water, and take it easy especially if you are just starting out. It might be smart to pay attention to the weather and walk when it is cooler.

COVID-19 Goals: It’s Time for a Do-Over

Raise your hand if, when the COVID-19 shut down began, you vowed to use this time at home to do big things — like cook from scratch with only unprocessed foods every night; organize those boxes of family photos; workout twice a day; or learn a foreign language.

We had good intentions, but our goals were unrealistic, especially given that we’re in the middle of a pandemic. The news took over our lives and we had to get used to working virtually in many cases.

Chances are, your clients also set themselves up with some lofty goals, many relating to diet. When they failed to meet these unrealistic expectations, they may have thrown up their hands and quit trying. Let them know this is normal. Then help them move on with small goals for healthy eating.

This might just be the perfect time to introduce yourself and your clients to the Start Simple with MyPlate App. Free from the App Store and Google Play, this app helps you set and meet healthy eating goals that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely).

Here’s how the app works:

  1. Choose up to three goals per MyPlate food group. Some examples: “add vegetables to your lunch,” “have fruit for a sweet treat,” “have a whole grain at dinner,” “start your day with a protein food.” You can do this for each food group, or just pick one or two food groups to work on.
  2. When you meet a goal, you check it off for that day. The app lets you see your daily progress, get simple how-to tips to help you meet your goals, and select options for notifications and reminders.
  3. As your goals are completed, you can earn a variety of badges, like first goal complete, daily-streaks, food group badges, and the ultimate MyPlate badge.

Why we like the Start Simple with MyPlate App:

  • Easy: although it’s not designed for kids, they’ll pick it up quickly and can probably teach their parents/grandparents to use it.
  • Fun: the app is colorful, appealing to the eye, and fun to use.
  • Uplifting: when you check off a completed goal or earn a badge, you get a little celebration on your screen. (Sounds corny, but it will make you smile.)
  • Flexible: you can change your goals at any time.
  • Educational: users can learn more about MyPlate by clicking on the MyPlate 101 section.
  • Basic: the goals are simple enough for anyone to do.
  • Maintainable: when the world is overwhelming, this app helps you make a small change that you’ll be able to maintain.
  • Shareable: when you earn a badge, you can share this success on social media. This may encourage others to join you.
  • Challenging: there are built-in challenges for each season, providing a sense of competition and something larger to work toward for those who want it.

Tips for using the Start Simple with MyPlate App with your clients:

Check out our new and popular MyPlate materials:

Food, Fears & COVID-19

COVID-19 has put us all into uncharted territory. Everyone has their own way of dealing with this uncertain time, but it’s safe to say that at some point we all have fears. And many of these fears involve food.

As nutrition and health educators, how can we help? Here are some ideas to get you thinking about how to address some of the common fears so many of us are facing:

Financial fears: Many people are worried about money. They may have lost their job, had hours decreased, or taken a pay cut. We can help by sharing information about healthy eating on a budget:

  • Shop smart: Stretching food dollars is a priority when money is tight. Our Healthy Shopping on a Budget PowerPoint show covers it all.
  • Shop for produce in season to stay safe: Remind folks to buy what’s in “season” for the lowest price. Some items like cabbage, carrots, and potatoes are always in season and very low in cost. Remember to keep potatoes in a paper bag at room temperature for optimum storage life. If items look like they are losing freshness you can cook them and freeze them so you don’t lose them.
  • Pantry raid: Give tips to use up everything in your cabinets, refrigerator, and freezer.
  • Protein pro: Talk about more economical protein sources like beans, nuts, seeds, nut butter, low-fat dairy, vegetables, and less-expensive cuts of meat. Beans and lentils are always lower in cost than meat. Chicken thighs are 2.29 per pound while dried beans are $3.49 per pound. BUT one pound of beans will yield 5-6 cups of cooked beans or about 3 pounds. So the beans are a better deal. They are also high in fiber.
  • MyPlate: Focus on filling the plate with budget-friendly choices for each food group. Check out our MyPlate on a Budget tearpad.
  • COVID-19 twist: Acknowledge that some people are wary of buying fresh produce. Try to alleviate these fears by talking about basic food safety, but also provide tips on healthy canned and frozen options. Keep up to date with the FDA news feed on food and COVID-19. Currently, there is no evidence of COVID-19 being transmitted via food. Local news and health departments have all the updates on local laws for shelter in place and using masks. Many stores require masks and for people to stay 6 feet apart. Seniors and those with compromised immune systems can follow special shopping hours or use a delivery service like Instacart.

Weight gain fears: Some folks are worried about gaining weight. They’re working at home and the kitchen is a constant temptation. Stress eating is also an issue. We can help by sharing strategies that promote healthy eating:

  • Shop smart: If you buy the right foods at the supermarket, you’ll have the right foods at home. Our Shopping Smart for Weight Loss PowerPoint show is a great start.
  • Steady is good: Help people realize that even if they’re overweight, it might be smarter to focus on maintaining rather than losing weight during this time.
  • Small is smart: Talk about making small changes that will add up to a healthier diet. And for those who are trying to lose weight, remind them that losing just 5-10% of their body weight is enough to make a difference.
  • Think about drinks: Warn people about sipping on sugary beverages while binge-watching. Some folks might be drinking more alcohol, too, so it can’t hurt to remind them about lower-calorie choices and watching portion sizes.
  • Home chefs: People have more time on their hands, restaurants are closed, and they’re craving comfort foods. Our 25 Ingredients, 15 Meals PowerPoint show can help them get cooking the healthy way, while also saving money!
  • Eating your worries: It happens to the best of us. Our Stress Eating PowerPoint show is full of strategies to help.
  • COVID-19 twist: Some people are highly motivated to make healthy changes during this time. For others, it’s just too overwhelming to add diet to everything else they’re dealing with (kids, work, aging parents at risk). We have to be there for both and for everyone who’s in between.

 

Nutrition & Health Education During COVID-19

With social distancing and school closings, you may be wondering what to do about nutrition and health education. Many people, from musicians to personal trainers to artists, are sharing their expertise and talent with the world by way of Zoom, YouTube, Facebook Live, and other virtual ways of connecting. You can do this too!

If the thought scares you, start small. Do some trial runs with family and friends as your virtual audience. And really, don’t worry about messing up. Even the pros make mistakes.

As far as what topics to cover, the possibilities are endless. Give your audience a break from thinking about the coronavirus. Keep it light, but still provide some good information.

Health calendar observances are good sources of inspiration. There is a food or health topic for almost every day of the year. Some are official, others not so much. But as long as your information is accurate, go for it.

Health calendars we like:

Below are some ideas to get you thinking … these are mostly official health weeks and months. Look for a future post about more light-hearted topics, like National Garlic Day (April 19), Salsa Month (May), and National Hummus Day (May 13).

March/April:

National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (March 30–April 5):  The goal of this week is to connect teens to resources to SHATTER THE MYTHS® about drugs and alcohol. There are online and downloadable versions of the 2020 National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge and plenty of activities that teens, parents, and teachers can do from home.

April:

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month:  The International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders has a toolkit as well as simple tips you can share, covering topics like probiotics, exercise, and fiber. If you want a deep dive into gut health, check out our Microbiome PowerPoint.

National Minority Health Month:  This year’s theme is Active & Healthy, with a focus on simple ways to move more to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and other conditions that are often more common or severe among racial and ethnic minority groups. You could focus on ways to get exercise when we’re all staying home because of COVID-19, like dancing, walking, household chores, or bouncing on an exercise ball while binge-watching.

World Health Day (April 7):  World Health Day 2020 will honor nurses and midwives, which is particularly appropriate given their role on the front lines of fighting COVID-19. The World Health Organization’s calls to action include asking the general public to “show nurses and midwives your appreciation for their work and thank them for what they do to keep us healthy.” Invite your clients, students, and colleagues to thank a nurse or midwife they know (or work with) by posting on social media using the tag #SupportNursesAndMidwives.

Every Kid Healthy Week (April 20–24):  Every Kid Healthy™ Week celebrates school health and wellness achievements. Each day of the week spotlights actions schools and families are taking to improve the health and wellness of their kids. While most schools closed due to COVID-19, Action for Healthy Kids provides plenty of “do this at home” ideas and activities. Each weekday has a topic and we have some fantastic materials that would go with them:

May:

Food Allergy Awareness Week (May 10-16):  Help the public learn more about food allergies by sharing information from the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT). A good place to start is their downloadable 10 FAACTS About Food Allergies poster. If your audience includes new or expecting parents, you could talk about peanut early introduction guidelines from Food Allergy Research & Education. We have some great resources as well: a fun Food Allergy Poster and our Food Allergies (They’re Nothing to Sneeze At!) PowerPoint with handouts.

National High Blood Pressure Education Month:  The CDC says that about 28% of American adults aged 18 years or older have prehypertension, so educating folks about preventing and controlling high blood pressure is an important message for many. We have lots of blood pressure materials to help, including PowerPoint shows like Blood Pressure 101, Blood Pressure Trivia Game, and Four Lessons to Lower Blood Pressure. You could also talk about the DASH Diet and make your own sodium test tubes, using sandwich bags if necessary.

World No Tobacco Day (May 31):  The World Health Organization leads this effort against smoking, specifically working to keep youth from falling prey to tobacco marketing and advertising campaigns. With the popularity of e-cigarettes, our Dangers of Vaping poster is just what you need to address this important topic. For more info and resources on vaping, see this recent blog post. We also have a Living Tobacco Free PowerPoint show.

This is just a sample of health calendar observances you can share with your clients or students. Remember to keep it light and make it fun!

Here are some popular presentations from NutritionEducationStore.com:

8 Ways to Combat Coronavirus Chaos

Coronavirus is on everyone’s mind. We have 3 new posters (handwashing, staying home when sick, COVID-19 facts) along with classic “Avoid the Flu” posters PLUS this informative article to help you address the seriousness of the situation we’re all dealing with right now.

But I think you’ll agree that sometimes you need to lighten things up. Let’s help folks forget the scary headlines and bring a smile to their faces, if only for a short time.

Here are eight ways to combat coronavirus chaos:

  1. Start a simple challenge, like 10,000 steps a day or a 10-minute daily walk. Set up a Facebook group for participants (you can make it private). Give away small prizes. We have 10,000 steps-themed stickers, pins, and wristbands or check out our list of low-cost prize ideas.
  2. Spread some cheer by decorating for St. Patrick’s Day, National Nutrition Month, or March Madness. For other days to celebrate (International Carrot Day, anyone?), check out our calendar and Foodimentary.com. Our fruit and veggie balloons will brighten up any office, classroom, or cafeteria.
  3. Let adults and teens do some coloring. It can be meditative and takes your mind off your worries. With our MyPlate adult coloring book, you get the added benefit of  healthy messages and images of healthy foods.
  4. Get ready to garden! Give away seedlings or small seed packets (your local garden center might be willing to donate some). Or organize a perennial plant swap. Getting everyone thinking about summer and the outdoors is like adding a ray of sunshine to their days.
  5. Post a picture of a fruit or vegetable every day and see who knows its name and/or nutrition benefits. We have lots of free clipart to get you started. Or search online for images of unusual fruits and veggies, like ugli fruit and purple cauliflower.
  6. Get a little corny with some food jokes.
  7. Teach proper hand washing with a lunch-and-learn or Facebook Live session. Include a hand washing experiment using a product like Glo Germ. Or check out this simple science experiment that only requires a few slices of bread! Choose a variety of songs they can sing to ensure they are washing their hands for 20 seconds.
  8. Set up a Just the Facts zone to remind folks that they shouldn’t believe everything they hear or read. Check out the World Health Organization’s coronavirus myth-busters. Maybe there are a few more myths you can debunk for your audience and locale.

Stay well!