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

 

 

 

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

 

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

7 Ways to Stop Stress Eating

Everyone is stressed out these days, and many turn to food for relief. But overeating isn’t the answer — it can even make things worse.

Help your clients, students, or employees with these seven ways to stop stress eating:

  1. Knowledge is power. When you learn about the relationship between food and stress, you can do something about it. Host a lunch-and-learn virtual session using our How to Manage Stress without Overeating PowerPoint with PDF handouts. If time is an issue for your audience, break the show up and hold a series of shorter sessions.
  2. Resilience: overeating is one thing, but most people get into trouble when they beat themselves up about it. Our Don’t Stress Eat color handout gives tips on how to avoid stress eating AND what to do when you do overeat.
  3. Exercise is a great stress-reliever, so don’t forget to include it in any plan to prevent or respond to stress eating. Even a five-minute walk can get your mind off food and help you deal with what’s stressing you out.
  4. Meditation is another way to handle stress. How about taking ten deep breaths before giving in to a food craving? Encourage your students and clients to try simple meditations available online or via apps. Some have free trials but then charge a fee, like Calm Headspace. But Smiling Mind and Insight Timer are free.
    • Teachers are under a great deal of stress – with this in mind, Headspace is offering free access to educators. And some apps are also offering free premium access to healthcare providers.
  5. Mindful eating can help stop stress eating before it starts. Use our 3 Steps to More Mindful Eating poster to teach this gentle, positive way to a healthier relationship with food.
  6. Sleep may be the answer for many people who use food to deal with stress. Our Sleep Right for a Healthier Life poster teaches how and why to get a good night’s sleep.
  7. Coloring is a great stress-reliever. An added bonus — it’s hard to eat while your hands are occupied! Find adult coloring books online or in bookstores and department stores. You can even print out single pages to color (just do a search for ‘free printable coloring pages’). Our MyPlate coloring books add a healthy eating message while you color.

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

 

 

 

 

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.

Change It Up in 2020

Many people see the new year as a chance to turn over a new leaf, to get a fresh start. While we know that most new year’s resolutions fail, January can be a time of change if you’re realistic and take things one step at a time. Help your clients keep the new year simple and positive with our Change It Up materials featuring a fast-food caterpillar transformed into a beautiful butterfly.

While going from a caterpillar to a butterfly is a big transformation, encourage your clients to transform their eating and exercise habits in simple, small ways that will add up over time. Here are some questions to ask, but remember to focus only on one or two small changes at a time:

  • How can you transform breakfast? Examples:
    • If you’re a breakfast skipper, eat something small in the morning to start a new habit.
    • Add some peanut butter or avocado to your whole-grain toast.
    • Is sugary cereal your go-to? Mix in some whole grain, low sugar cereal.
  • How can you transform lunch? Examples:
    • If you usually eat out, pack lunch once per week.
    • Use mustard instead of mayo, or skip the cheese.
    • Add a side salad to your meal, and eat it first.
  • How can you transform snacks? Examples:
    • Skip the vending machine — bring something from home.
    • Cut up fruits and veggies to take on the go.
    • Add some protein — spread peanut butter on apple slices or dip carrots in low-fat Greek yogurt.
  • How can you transform dinner? Examples:
    • Use a smaller plate.
    • Buy healthy convenience foods like rotisserie chicken and salad bar veggies.
    • Go meatless once per week.
  • How can you transform your exercise routine? Examples:
    • Meet a friend once per week.
    • Use a pedometer to track your steps.
    • Take 5-10 minute walks around the office or outside throughout the day.

Give clients one of our Change It Up stickers or bookmarks as a reminder to eat healthier food and be active every day so that they can feel transformed!

Use this link to get 15% off this collection and all of our hot topic items for 2020. Offer good this week only through January 15, 2020.

Eat It Now, Burn It Off Later?

Indulge today, work it off tomorrow? If only it was that simple!

Although we never want to discourage people from exercising, it’s important to emphasize that the key to weight loss is healthy eating, not working out. Extra calories are so easy to eat and so hard to burn. Our You Can’t Outrun Your Fork poster gets this message across in a fun, light-hearted way.

This poster brings up some good topics for conversation. Start off by asking your clients how they usually try to outrun the fork:

  • The post-workout splurger: You’re more likely to eat more or splurge on dessert if you exercised that day.
  • The extra calorie down-player: You tell yourself the larger size soda or extra scoop of ice cream won’t add that many calories (and even if it does, that’s why you workout, right?!).
  • The take-care-of-it-tomorrow trickster: You justify over-indulging with a solemn vow to burn it off tomorrow.
  • The I’ll-run-an-extra miler: You give in to temptation, promising to add miles or time to your next workout to make up for it.

Don’t forget to remind everyone about the non-weight related 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
  • Improves mood
  • Helps you sleep
  • Reduces stress
  • Strengthens your bones

And with Halloween right around the corner, it’s a good time for a reality check. What does it take to outrun your fingers sneaking the kids’ candy? Here’s what you need to do to burn the calories from ONE little fun size serving of candy:

  • Fun size Kit Kat (70 calories): Walk your dog 30 minutes.
  • Fun size Peanut M&M’s (90 calories): 13 minutes of jogging.
  • Fun size Mike & Ike’s (50 calories): Water aerobics for 15 minutes.
  • Fun size Reese’s (110 calories): 16 minutes on the exercise bike.
  • Fun size Skittles (80 calories): Rake leaves for 22 minutes.
  • Fun size Twix (80 calories): 28 minutes of vacuuming.

Not Enough Time in the Day

Exercise has lots of benefits, but it can’t make up for overindulging in not-so-healthy foods. When people say, I’ll burn it off at the gym later or I walked three miles this morning, they don’t understand that it’s not that simple. Most would be shocked to learn just how long they need to exercise to burn off those extra calories.

Our How Much to Work it Off? poster says it all – there is simply not enough time in the day to work off a bad diet. The poster features colorful pictures of foods with their calorie content and how many minutes of walking it takes to burn the calories. Just looking at the top row of pictures shows that the typical fast food meal of a quarter pound cheeseburger, large fries, and a large soda will take 3 hours and 19 minutes of walking to burn off. Talk about eye opening!

Whether you’re teaching a group or counseling one-on-one, make this concept personal by using an online calories burned calculator (like this one from WebMD). Show people how to look up calories burned for a specific activity based on their body weight. How many minutes of walking the dog will burn off last night’s dessert? How long will I need to swim to make up for that muffin I grabbed this morning? The answer is sure to make them think more about the food choices they make!

Although it’s important to get this message across, we don’t want to discourage people from being active, so be sure to include some of our fun physical activity materials as well. The Be Active Every Day exercise color handout tearpad is perfect for this, with guidelines and tips for kids and adults.

School’s Out!

School’s out for summer, but kids can’t afford to take a break from healthy eating and staying active. Remind them to be active for 60 minutes a day and eat the MyPlate way with our MyPlate Kids and Physical Activity materials.

The MyPlate Kids Activity poster shows the many ways to get moving for 60 minutes every day, from stretching to walking the dog to playing a sport and more. There’s bound to be something that appeals to every child and inspires them to be active.

With the MyPlate graphic front and center, our materials will also remind kids to make each meal balanced, starting with plenty of high-fiber, nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables.

If you’re at a health fair, in the classroom, or anywhere with kids, try one of these activities to get them moving, having fun, and learning:

  • Put a colored dot on one side of small index cards, using the MyPlate colors (red, orange, green, purple, and blue). Turn the cards over so no one can see the colored dots. Let kids pick an index card to see what color they got. Then ask a series of questions, depending on their age and how much time you have. For example, if they pick red:
    • What foods are in the red group? Answer: Fruit.
    • What is your favorite fruit? Answer: Apples.
    • What does the word apple start with? Answer: A.
    • “Pretend your finger is a pencil and draw a huge A in the air.”
  • For older kids, do the above activity, but have them “spell” out the whole name of the food. For fun, change it up – “pretend your foot/elbow/nose/knee is a pencil and draw a huge A in the air.”
  • Write a variety of activities on index cards (different sports, running, jumping rope, hopping on one foot, etc). Each child picks an index card and does that activity in place (pretend to swing a bat, throw a ball, hop, etc).

Kids who participate can take home a Kids Activity and MyPlate bookmark to remind them to stay active and eat right all summer long.

Take (10,000) Steps to Better Health

How many times have you heard someone say, ‘I know I should exercise, but I’m too busy’? Or too tired or too out of shape or too old. Fill in the blank – you’ve probably heard it all. Use our 10,000 Steps materials to teach that regular physical activity is not only good for our health, but it’s attainable for everyone!

Our 10,000 Steps poster and banners are educational, fun, and eye-catching. They come with a free Take Steps to Good Health printable handout. Add some fun to your classes and health fairs by offering prizes (like our stickers, wristbands, buttons, and bookmarks) for answering questions and sharing experiences.

Here are seven ideas for lessons and conversations to use with our 10,000 Steps materials in just about any setting:

  1. How many steps do you think most people take every day? Help the class along by asking people to raise their hand if they think it’s 1,000-2,000; 3,000-4,000; etc. Whoever answers correctly (3,000-4,000) gets a prize (sticker, bookmark, button, or wristband).
  2. Do you use a pedometer or cell phone to count your steps? (Give these people a prize.) If so, how many steps do you usually take in a day? Do you keep track of the daily number? Tip: write down your daily steps (or use an app). You can’t change what you don’t track!
  3. Getting to 10,000 steps a day isn’t as hard as you think. Think about times when could walk instead of sitting (waiting rooms, waiting for a friend, waiting for a movie to start…). Can you think of other times when walking just a little bit more would be easy to do? How about taking an extra lap around the grocery store or mall? Walk around your office or house when talking on the phone. Every step counts!
  4. Walking is the perfect way to be active. It’s economical – no gym membership or special equipment required. It doesn’t depend on the weather – when it’s rainy, cold, or hot and humid, walk inside at the mall or around a mega-store. It can be done anytime – while talking on the phone, listening to music or podcasts, or chatting with a friend in person.
  5. Brainstorm how to take extra steps at home and as a family. How about walking after dinner, marching in place during commercial breaks, or walking up and down the stairs a few extra times a day?
  6. Brainstorm ways to take extra steps at work. Turn work breaks into walk breaks. Go by yourself or with a co-worker. Inside or outside. Hold “walking” meetings.
  7. Taking 10,000 steps daily provides the health benefits of regular physical activity, like better sleep, mood, and strength; helping you maintain or get to a healthy weight; and reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Check out all the items in our 10,000 Steps theme!