Picture Healthy Eating

We’re seven months into the COVID-19 pandemic. People have been stressed out since March and now face a winter warning of coronavirus and flu.

Our clients, students, and employees are probably tired of being told what to do and what not to do. Do they have the capacity to follow a new diet or make big dietary changes? Maybe not.

That means we need to be creative and sneak in our message where we can. Instead of ramming diet restrictions down their throats, think about being more subtle.

How about using beautiful photographs of real food to convey the healthy eating message? Check out these items:

  • What’s on Your Fork? According to this poster, it’s mouth-watering bites of fresh, nutrient-dense foods.
  • Fork Photo Walloons. These wall decals shaped like balloons feature eye-catching photos of asparagus, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, whole wheat pasta, salmon, and a strawberry. When a picture says it all, no words are necessary!
  • Fork Stickers. Let people take home a little reminder of what healthy food looks like. Again, no words needed.
  • Choose Wisely Poster. More beautiful color photos of fruits and veggies, with the message: “You need fuel. Choose wisely.”

Everyday, people see pictures of fake food on billboards, online, and on TV. Let’s fight back by posting beautiful photos of healthy food on the walls of our offices, hallways, and cafeterias, on our social media pages, and in our classrooms.

These positive, subliminal messages might be the gentle reminder everyone needs to get back on track with healthy eating.

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

Change it Up, Little by Little

This phrase recently caught my attention: Little by little, a little becomes a lot. I even wrote it on a sticky note and put it on my refrigerator. It reminds me that small things count. They add up.

Meditating for just one minute; adding a baby spinach salad to a meal; walking around the block; cleaning one kitchen counter. Doing small things may not seem important at the moment, but over time they mean a lot. A healthier diet, more exercise, a cleaner house.

You probably have clients or patients who are all-or-nothing thinkers – they really need to hear this message! Especially now, when the pandemic disrupts our routines, and sometimes even the tiniest change feels overwhelming.

Our Change It Up theme goes well with this concept. Little by little, diet and exercise changes will add up to transform your life. It’s how you go from being the worn out fast-food caterpillar to the vibrant, beautiful butterfly.

Use the Change It Up concept to teach your clients, patients, or students that …

  • The transformation isn’t instant, but the good feeling you get from one small change takes you one baby step closer.
    • Get the good feeling by celebrating (yay, me!) when you make the choice to have an apple instead of chips.
  • Change can be overwhelming, so start small by concentrating on doing something different for just one meal.
    • Once a healthy breakfast becomes a daily habit, move on to lunch, dinner, or snacks.
  • You can’t go from the couch to a 5K overnight.
    • Going to the end of your driveway counts. Remember, small is good!
  • Nobody is perfect. You’ll mess up and that’s okay.
    • It’s easier to get back on track one small change at a time.

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

Fight COVID Fatigue

COVID fatigue – we all have it to some degree. But with flu season approaching and kids going back to school, this is no time to let up.

We can fight COVID fatigue by reminding our students, employees, clients (and ourselves) to take basic precautions, just like we did at the beginning of this crisis.

Here are some reminders and resources that can help you do a “COVID-19 refresh.”

1. Social distancing:

  • Use our Social Distancing Poster to cover the basics:
    • It’s keeping a safe distance between yourself and people who don’t live with you.
    • It applies whether you’re indoors or outdoors.
    • It means wearing a mask or face covering.
    • It involves staying six feet apart.
  • Provide visuals of what six feet looks like:
    • Check out this fun video that gets the message across.
    • CNN has some good visuals for six feet, like the width of a sedan, two golden retrievers, a three-person sofa, or the length of a twin mattress.
    • Here are a few more, like an adult bike or a yoga mat.
  • Social distancing also means staying home as much as possible – something a lot of us forget!

2. Handwashing:

  • Use our Handwashing Poster as a reminder to:
    • Lather well.
    • Wash long enough (20 seconds) to be effective.
    • Rinse well under running water.
    • Dry hands on clean towels or air dryers.
  • Pick a new 20-second tune:
    • Here’s a list of songs with a chorus at least 20 seconds long.
    • Have more fun with Wash Your Lyrics. Put in your favorite song and get an infographic showing hand-washing steps with 20 seconds worth of lyrics to go along.

3. Face coverings/masks:

  • Wear it correctly:
    • It goes on your face, covering your nose and mouth.
    • It doesn’t go around your neck or up on your forehead.
    • Don’t touch the mask (if you do, wash your hands).
  • Wash it: you need a clean mask every day!
  • Show how to safely put a mask on, take it off, and other tips:

Of course, it can’t hurt to give people a refresher on the coronavirus in general, which is what our Coronavirus Poster does.

These friendly reminders can help slow the spread of the virus and keep us safe until a vaccine is developed (and everyone gets it).

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

 

 

 

What’s Your Word for the Rest of 2020?

Back in January, we talked about setting a word for the year in lieu of new year’s resolutions. So much has happened since then – those words (and any resolutions) have probably been forgotten.

That’s ok, because September is much like the new year. Even if you don’t have children, there’s something about back-to-school time that feels like a fresh start.

Don’t miss this opportunity to engage your clients and students in choosing a new word or theme for the rest of the 2020. Be sure to set the right tone for the time we’re living in now:

  • Don’t dwell on what you have or haven’t done during the pandemic – this is your chance for a do-over!
  • Be realistic about what the rest of the year might bring, and how it may affect your goals.
  • Focus on positive affirmations, like the ones on our I Am motivational poster. These gentle reminders can get you back on track to a life of health and well-being:
    • Self-care: get enough sleep, forgive yourself for setbacks.
    • Diet: eat mindfully when you’re hungry, love fruits & veggies.
    • Physical activity: move more, be consistent.
    • Attitude: don’t give up!
    • Intention: make a plan and work toward success.
  • Now is the time for your 2020 re-start! Like our Change It Up theme says:
    • Eat healthier food + Be more active = You will feel transformed!

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

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).

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.

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