Holiday Health Challenge Preview

Have you had a moment to check out the Holiday Wellness Challenge?

The Holiday Wellness Challenge offers a fun way keep your clients on track during the holiday season. After all, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Americans gain an average of .4 to 1.8 pounds each year during the holidays. With a little know-how and some fun strategies, this weight gain can be avoided.

To get the details about the Holiday Wellness Challenge, check out the post Holiday Wellness Challenge over in the Food and Health blog.

And for an even closer look, I want to offer a preview of one of the chapters today!

Here’s the first handout from Chapter Five: Jump Start Your Breakfast. Feel free to download it and distribute as you see fit!

Jump Start Breakfast

Why Care About Breakfast?

Life is busy, and busy often ups its game during the holidays. Between parties, family projects, decorations, and shopping, something has to give. Breakfast should not be it.

Why? Here are some top reasons to care about breakfast…

  • Breakfast offers key nutrients that will give you energy. Plus, with the right foods, you won’t get hungry on your way to holiday activities and errands.
  • Furthermore, when you make healthful choices at breakfast, you start the day on the right foot. It’s easier to stick to good habits that way.

Breakfast Facts:

Having breakfast every morning kick-starts your metabolism.

Studies indicate that people who eat breakfast in the morning are less likely to get diabetes.

78% of the people in the National Weight Control Registry make a healthful breakfast part of their daily routine.

Breakfast is associated with a lower BMI, fewer calories consumed during the day, and a better diet.

Breakfast is a great opportunity to increase your consumption of fiber, whole grains, fruit, and low-fat dairy.

A healthful breakfast not only gives you energy, but also increases cognitive function.

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?

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

Nutrition Posters for the Workplace

My team and I have created tons of posters over the years, and some of my very favorite ones teach lessons that are important to showcase in the workplace.

We have posters that are designed to bring “better numbers like blood pressure, cholesterol, and BMI” or to motivate in a fun way like the food art posters. There are also ones that teach great nutrition lessons and promote positive reinforcement and education.

Let’s take a tour through some of the best options, shall we?

Top Heart Posters:

Top BMI Poster:

Best Nutrition Lessons:

Favorite Motivational Posters:

And of course there is our entire collection of over 150 posters. Which ones will best brighten up your workspace?

And, as a special bonus because I love ya, here’s a free copy of the printable PDF handout that accompanies the Fabulous Fruits and Vegetables poster.

fruitsandvegetablesposter

Food Safety at Pick-Your-Own Fields

I can make a long list of why pick-your-own fruit and vegetable fields are great. After all, they provide local foods that are as fresh as possible. Other positive aspects include exercise, family activities, fun, education, great prices, and a chance to teach children about where our food comes from.

I could also add a couple negatives to the list. For example, you could be exposed to bacteria and microorganisms that can cause foodborne illnesses. The last thing you want to do at a pick-your-own market is pick up your own (or your neighbors’) germs along with the produce.

GAPs

One way that pick-your-own fields are helping to reduce foodborne illness risks is by putting up a sign that recognizes Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs).  The signs encourage customers to do their part in keeping the food safe. Specifics included:

  • Wash your hands before you pick
  • Make sure children wash their hands, too
  • Wash the fruit before eating it

These tips may sound really simple and basic, but washing your hands both before and after going into the field can help prevent contamination.

Most people think to wash after, but not before picking. Washing your hands before going to the field helps keep the produce clean and avoids possible contamination from hands that have not been washed after going to the bathroom, after smoking, after sneezing, blowing your nose, or coughing. All of these things could make your hands contaminated and then unknowingly you could contaminate the produce. It’s not just your food you’re protecting, but it’s the next customers’ food too!

Wash Your Hands

I made a comment to one of the women working the scales at the market, telling her I thought that that was a great sign and that I appreciated the efforts made to keep the produce safe.  I asked if many folks did wash their hands. She said “sadly, most don’t and it’s really important, but [she] can’t make people do it.”

Some savvy farmers (like the one I visited) are also providing portable sinks that make it easy for folks to wash their hands.

To me these signs and the sinks are sending a positive message about this farm — a message of concern for our health. Contamination can take place anywhere along the field-to-fork continuum. By following GAPs during growing, harvesting, sorting, packaging, and the storage of fresh fruits and vegetables, our farmers are working to keep our food safe.

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University

Here’s a printable handout with the key points of today’s post…

PickYourOwn

And if you’d like more resources to support food safety lessons, don’t miss the following options…

Display of the Month: 10,000 Steps

10K Steps DisplayWe all know that regular exercise comes with some serious health benefits. After all, according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, “Regular physical activity reduces the risk of many adverse health outcomes. […] Health benefits occur for children and adolescents, young and middle-aged adults, older adults, and those in every studied racial and ethnic group.”

There are lots of ways to promote regular exercise to your audience, and one of my favorites is with a compelling display! Here’s what you’ll need to make your own…

The Materials:

The Activities:

  • Are You Physically Active? Quiz
  • Brainstorming: How Can YOU Become More Physically Active?

Display ActivitiesThe Details:

To set up your space, first arrange your table. Flanking it to one side, add the 10K Steps Banner and Stand. To balance it, set up your easel and brainstorming space on the other side of the table. Top the table with the How Much to Work It Off Poster on a Tabletop Easel and fan some of the Balancing Diet and Exercise Handouts out in front of it. If you’re doing the Are You Physically Active? Quiz, arrange those on your table as well. Put your prizes (the 10K Steps Wristbands and 10K Steps Buttons) in an obvious spot at the front of your table, then take a step back and survey the scene. How does the display look? Make any necessary shifts, then get ready for your activities.

For the Are You Physically Active? Quiz, distribute copies of the quiz handout to your participants. They can either take the quiz individually and quietly, marking their responses on the paper, or you can do a survey and walk everyone through each question together, having them call out or raise their hands with their answers. Help everyone score their quizzes and discuss the results. Are they physically active? What activities do they do that are best for their health? Why?

Then turn the discussion over to the second activity: How Can YOU Become More Physically Active? Talk with the group. What is a typical day like? When are there opportunities to squeeze in a little exercise? Can people take a walk at lunch? Go for a jog after work? Swim after dinner? What would work within their lifestyle? Offer prizes to people who participate in the discussion, and record any notable answers in the brainstorming space that you have set up. If there’s time, talk about the stumbling blocks on the path to an active lifestyle. How can people overcome the obstacles that can get in their way?

Additional Resources:

There are lots of other ways to help your audience get the exercise they need. Don’t miss these other wonderful resources that promote physical activity.

And here’s a free printable exercise handout, just for you! It’s perfect for just about any display.

Balancing Diet and Exercise

More Displays of the Month:

And don’t miss these amazing 10k resources from the Nutrition Education Store!

Reader Request: Healthy Camping

One of our longtime subscribers, Pat Hunter, MS, RD, is already thinking about summer. Just the other day she asked if we have any resources for healthy camping, and I was pleased to say that yes we do!

Just in case anyone else would like them too, I want to send a few links your way. At the Food and Health Camping Database, you can see all the posts I’ve ever made about camping. It includes a PDF handout, a guide to active vacations and even some fun camping snacks!

Today, as a special treat, I’d like to unveil a brand-new camping handout, just for you!

I’ve copied the text below, and if you like what you see, don’t miss the free printable handout at the bottom of the post.

Camping
A fun way to have a healthy vacation

Get Active When You Camp:

There are lots of ways to take an active vacation, and camping is one of the best. Whether you’re backpacking into the woods with a tent or renting a cabin by a lake, your proximity to the great outdoors offers plenty of opportunities for some exercise.

Hiking, for example, is a great way to explore the area and get active at the same time. Check out nearby mountains and scenic spots on foot — you’ll be glad you did.

If you camp near a lake or river, consider water sports. Kayaking, canoeing, swimming, and stand-up paddle boarding all offer fun ways to play outside and get some exercise too! Be sure to take precautions and make safe choices whenever you’re on the water.

Healthy Camping Foods:

There are lots of ways to eat healthy meals and snacks when you camp. Here are a few ideas…

  • Pack sturdy fruits and vegetables. This is not the time for delicate produce. Choose fruits and vegetables that hold up well in less-than-ideal conditions. Apples, carrots, oranges, and snap peas all do well on camping excursions.
  • Steer clear of sodium! When it comes to packaged foods like hot dogs and prepared dinners, check the Nutrition Facts label and choose the options with the least amount of sodium. Pack some spices to add flavor to your food instead.
  • Choose cereal bars with whole grains and low added sugar content.

Here’s a PDF edition of the handout. How will you use your copy?

Camping Handout

And here are some of the top vacation resources from the Nutrition Education Store!

Finding Success on the Path to Wellness

Have I mentioned that I just updated all of our comprehensive wellness programs?

Because I have, and I’m really proud of what my team and I have created. The latest updates include information from the 2015-2020 edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, along with a streamlined presentation platform and general improvements that will make these resources more fun for your audience.

So to celebrate that excitement, I’m sharing some slides from one of the most popular programs, The 12 Lessons of Wellness. Today’s preview comes from the show Getting Started, and the slides I’ve chosen offer advice for staying motivated and sidestepping pitfalls on the path to good health.

Let’s take a closer look!

FaceChallenges

As you embark on any path to wellness, you’ll eventually encounter a few stumbling blocks. That’s totally normal! If you plan ahead, it will be easier to overcome those obstacles and continue on your road to success.

Make sure to have a plan B for when the going gets a bit tougher. Fill your freezer with healthy meals. Prep healthy snacks and store them in the fridge or pantry. Keep some in the car in case an on-the-go craving strikes. Speaking of putting things in the car, toss a few exercise clothes in the trunk so that you’re always prepared for a workout. This will help you avoid skipping workouts because you didn’t plan ahead, and it will also ensure that you are prepared if an unexpected exercise opportunity pops up.

Remember that reaching and maintain a healthy weight is your lifetime plan. When you feel discouraged, focus on your successes and review your reasons for wanting to lose weight in the first place.

SpecialOccasions

Now let’s delve into some detail. How can you stay motivated during special occasions?

One tip is to eat before the party so that you aren’t starving when you face down a festive and lavish spread. While you’re there, focus on the conversation. If you do want to indulge a bit, keep things small, exercise the next day, and eat lighter for the rest of the day or the day after.

At these parties, you may encounter a weight loss saboteur or two. Avoid people who don’t support your efforts and instead find people who share your goals. Who knows? This may be a great opportunity to get a workout buddy!

SlowProgress

Let’s move on to another challenge. What happens when you hit a period of slow/no progress?

To start, have patience with yourself. Some days are easier than others. Revisit your goals and make sure that they’re realistic. You can always talk with your dietitian or doctor about your frustration too — they’ll have lots of great ideas for you.

RewardWhen it comes to keeping your motivation through health and fitness challenges, sometimes a reward is just the boost you need. Establish what your reward will be ahead of time, and remember, the reward shouldn’t be food!

It’s often helpful to set up rewards for milestones, not just the final goal. Plan a few rewards that you can earn along your path to fitness and weight loss — don’t just save one big reward for the end!

The show goes on in much more detail, but that’s where I’d like to stop the sample for today.

If you like what you see, consider exploring the 12 Lessons of Wellness and Weight Loss program. It’s one of the most comprehensive and effective programs for employee weight loss that my team and I have created, and it has been hugely popular.

And, as a special bonus, here are the free printable PDFs of the slides we previewed today!

Getting Started Sample Slides

And here are some of the top-selling weight loss resources from the Nutrition Education Store!

7 Simple Ways to Save Calories

Reward Chart Handout

Feel Full with Fewer Calories PowerPoint and Handout Set

Water Fitness — It’s Not Just for Seniors

Water Fitness ClassWe all know that regular exercise is important for good health. We also know that it’s vital to find something you like or you won’t continue it. If you’re struggling with finding a program that works for you, needing to mix it up a little, or looking for a change, why not try my favorite activity?

Water fitness.

You may think that this is something just for older people (yikes!) but there are different programs and types of classes for all ages and fitness levels. Water fitness (or water aerobics) programs and classes can help develop flexibility, muscular strength and endurance, and even deliver cardio-respiratory benefits. Other physical benefits include increased range of motion, improved balance and coordination, and a chance for some relaxation.

Exercising in water is different than land exercise. These differences create a great environment for a fitness program.

Resistance. Since the viscosity of water is greater than that of air, the resistance to movement is greater. Water provides 12 to 14 times more resistance than air during exercise. This resistance is also evenly distributed. As an added bonus, water works the opposing muscles too. Kickboards, water weights (or hand buoys), or water noodles are often used to create additional resistance for strength building.

Using ResistanceInertia. This is the force needed to move from a stopped position or to change direction. In water fitness, the inertia is against both the water and current. Once the momentum in one direction has been achieved, it takes additional energy to reverse the direction of motion.

Body Surface Area. The water itself creates drag as it moves against the body, which can add intensity to the workout. Moving through the water creates more drag. Equipment such as webbed gloves and paddles increase these drag forces of the water, which can help build fitness.

Thermal Regulation. Water maintains the core temperature and establishes a balance between metabolic heat production and heat loss. The water naturally cools the body down and therefore your core temperature tends to be lower and you don’t even realize you’re sweating.

Intensity. The intensity of a workout can be increased or decreased with speed. Also, moving/traveling or working in deeper water increases intensity.

Yay for water fun!Buoyancy. This is one of the major positive aspects of water fitness. In water, the body has buoyancy. This makes water fitness easier on joints and bones. Because of the buoyancy, participants can jump without the limitation of gravity and the fear of falling and getting hurt. Being submerged or partially-submerged gives more and enhanced range of motions and freedom of movement. All of this allows workouts to become less painful.

Water fitness is something you can do alone, with a friend, or in a class. On top of all these good things, the water can relax your body — enjoy that water massage! With water fitness, you’re sure to have fun!

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University

Here are more fitness resources, fresh from the Nutrition Education Store!

Calorie Balance Poster

Home Exercise PowerPoint and Handout Set

Exercise Poster

And finally, last but not least, here’s a free PDF handout with great information from today’s post!

Water Fitness

Motivation Tip: Use a Reward Chart

Reward Chart Poster

One of the most popular tools in my nutrition educator’s bag of tricks is a good reward chart. It helps with motivation, makes it easier to celebrate important milestones, and adds a sense of fun to a new endeavor.

That’s why I created the Reward Chart poster. I wanted a resource that would help people focus on important health goals, and it has been flying off the shelves since its introduction to the store.

Today, because I love ya, I’m giving away the handout that comes with this poster, for free.

Yes, you read that right!

In order to further boost motivation, the Reward Chart poster comes with a simple handout about selecting rewards and the evaluating the impact of healthful choices. I’ve copied that information below and slipped in a free downloadable PDF of the handout too…

Choosing Rewards:

When it comes to choosing rewards for your achievements, it’s important to choose options that will encourage your efforts. Skip food or drink rewards. Instead, try one of these options…

  • High FiveHand weights
  • Resistance bands
  • Yoga mat
  • Swim goggles
  • Running shoes
  • Movie passes
  • New cooking equipment
  • Sharp knife
  • Colorful cutting board
  • Nonstick skillets
  • Fresh herbs
  • New spices
  • New workout clothes
  • iPod or other digital music device
  • A deposit in a savings account for a vacation
  • A trip to a museum or art exhibit

The Benefits of Your Decision:

There are tons of benefits to good health.

A balanced diet and exercise plan will reduce your risk of…

  • Family JogDiabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Certain cancers
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity

At the same time, making healthful diet and exercise choices will provide the following benefits…

  • Increased stamina
  • Better sleep
  • Improved mood
  • Increased flexibility
  • Stronger bones
  • Higher energy levels

Congratulations on starting down the road to good health.

You can do it!

And, as promised, here is the PDF handout that’s (usually) only available to people who already bought the Reward Chart poster. I hope you like it!

Reward Chart Handout

Last but not least, we have some other great resources in the Nutrition Education Store — they’re sure to give your clients a motivation boost!

Save Calories with 7 Simple Steps Poster

Reward Chart Sheet

Poster: How Much to Work it Off?