Holiday Survival Tips & COVID-19

Eating healthfully during the holidays is always a challenge. This year the pandemic is making it even harder.

Help your clients get through the holiday eating season with our Holiday Survival Tips PowerPoint show. The presentation addresses the reality of holiday weight gain and helps audience members make a plan to avoid it.

Here are three of the Holiday Survival Tips along with how they may need to be tweaked this year due to COVID-19:

  1. Focus less on food and more on celebrating what the holidays are all about. This can be difficult if you’re alone or unable to get together with friends or extended family this year.
    • Schedule phone calls and virtual gatherings so you’ll have something to look forward to besides eating.
    • Keep your hands busy with knitting, crafts, adult coloring books, or puzzles – you can’t eat while doing these kinds of activities!
    • Make up for missing events like tree lightings and holiday festivals by finding things you CAN do. Walk around your neighborhood to see all the holiday lights, for example.
  2. Pay attention to exercise and sleep — two things that the holidays tend to interfere with.
    • Make a plan to take a walk or do an exercise video at the same time every day. Text a friend to stay accountable.
    • Avoid staying up later than usual or sleeping in. Stick to a consistent sleep schedule so you’ll wake up refreshed every morning.
    • Put health-promoting gifts on your wish list, like a Fitbit or a subscription to the premium version of a meal planning or food tracking app.
  3. Find ways to make traditional holiday dishes a bit healthier.
    • Use less fat or sugar in recipes. Staying home means you’ll be in control of the big holiday meals, so make this the year you try a lower fat pumpkin pie or sweet potatoes without the sugary toppings.
    • If there’s only going to be four of you for the big holiday meal, scale things down. Buy the smallest pies or cakes you can find. Bake smaller batches of things like your favorite holiday cookies. The goal is to NOT have lots of leftovers to tempt you.
    • If you’re buying a meal from a supermarket or restaurant, make sure you know what you’re getting and adjust accordingly. Keep some extra roasted vegetables or salad on hand to add to a purchased meal.

The holidays and the pandemic make it easy to gain weight and hard to lose it. Probably the best tip we can give people this time of year is to aim to maintain their weight.

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

 

 

 

4 Lessons to Lower Blood Pressure

Are you looking for ways to teach your clients, students, or employees about high blood pressure? We have a comprehensive PowerPoint program for you: Four Lessons to Lower Blood Pressure.

No matter who’s in the audience, they’re bound to learn something new from our lessons:

  1. Introduction to High Blood Pressure
  2. Make the DASH
  3. Cut the Salt
  4. Get Moving to Lower Blood Pressure

The lessons can be used individually, or you can host a series of virtual sessions.

Here are some talking points to promote your blood pressure education efforts and motivate people to take action:

  1. The silent killer: High blood pressure usually has no symptoms. That’s why it is important to get your blood pressure measured and do what it takes to get it under control.
  2. COVID-19 point #1: The CDC says that adults of any age who have high blood pressure might be at an increased risk for severe illness if they are infected by the coronavirus. That’s a good reason to make an effort to get your blood pressure under control.
  3. COVID-19 point #2: High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease. According to the CDC, heart disease puts you at an increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness. Just one more reason to take steps now to control your blood pressure.
  4. More than salt: While cutting sodium in your diet is very important, that’s not the only thing. The DASH eating plan emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean proteins, and legumes, nuts, and seeds.
  5. More than diet: Along with the DASH eating plan, regular exercise can help lower your blood pressure. And if you smoke, get help to quit.

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

 

Take Steps to Keep Moving During the Pandemic

Many people have changed their exercise routine due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some are streaming their favorite aerobics class instead of attending in-person. Others are purchasing home fitness equipment.

But even if we find ways to keep up our gym routine when the gym is closed, what about how much we’re moving in general?

Think about all the steps we aren’t taking because of the pandemic. If you’re working from home, you’re not walking from the car or bus stop to your office. You’re not taking the stairs instead of the elevator. If you’re doing curbside grocery pickup, you’re not walking around the supermarket.

That’s where counting steps can be useful, making it the perfect time for a 10,000 steps challenge! We have everything you need in our 10,000 Steps theme:

Here are three ways to engage your clients, students, or employees in a conversation about taking more steps throughout the day:

  1. Make a plan to increase your steps now. It could look something like this:
    • Step 1: Get a pedometer or a tracking device (like a Fitbit) or find out if your cell phone will work.
    • Step 2: Track how many steps you’re taking every day for a week.
    • Step 3: Make a goal to increase your steps per day by 1,000 (or more or less, just be realistic).
    • Step 4: Track for a week and repeat, with the goal of getting up to 10,000 steps.
  2. Brainstorm ways to keep your steps up even in cold weather. Do you need a warmer coat? New gloves or a hat? Boots?
  3. Challenge a friend – at the end of the day, text each other about how many steps you took and what your goal is for the next day.

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

 

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!