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

Snapshots of the American Diet

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has held five public meetings over the past year. At each meeting, subcommittees present updates on their research. (You can get all the details here.)

A subcommittee called the Data Analysis and Food Pattern Modeling Cross-Cutting Working Group has presented some interesting snapshots of the American diet. Although the Advisory Committee’s report isn’t ready yet, this information can help you come up with relevant topics for nutrition and health education. Here are two examples:

Snacking:

  • Most Americans snack — in fact, 93% of us do, usually 2-3 times/day.
  • Snacks provide 22-23% of our total calories.
  • Late-night snacking often involves added sugars, sodium, and saturated fats.
  • Every eating occasion is a chance to make nutrient-dense food choices. Shifts in childhood and adulthood snacks could help people meet food group and nutrient recommendations.
  • Teaching ideas:
    • Fruits and vegetables make great snacks. They’re unprocessed and lower in calories, added sugar, sodium, and fat. For tips, check out our Snack Smart poster and color handout download.
    • Portion control can make snacks healthier. Look at 100 calorie snack portions and plan to keep some on hand for easy access. See our 100 Calorie Snacks handout download.
    • Consider snacks as mini-meals, not treats. MyPlate can help people visualize this.

Burgers & sandwiches: This food category causes many Americans problems. Here’s how —

  • Most Americans eat too many calories from solid fats.
    • The main sources of solid fats include burgers & sandwiches and desserts & sweet snacks.
  • Most Americans consume too much sodium.
    • The category of burgers and sandwiches is the largest contributor to sodium intake.
  • Teaching ideas: We obviously need to help people choose alternatives to high-fat burgers and sandwiches!
    • Salad is the first thing that comes to mind:
    • Encourage folks to plan their meals, make a shopping list, and eat more meals at home. Our Menu Planning tools are a great place to start.
    • Sandwiches don’t have to be high in fat and sodium. Show clients how to build a healthier sandwich with lean meats and lots of veggies.

If you’ve signed up to get updates about the 2020 Dietary Guidelines, you should have received an email letting you know that the fifth meeting of the Advisory Committee has taken place and you have until June 1, 2020 to submit comments (revised on April 9, 2020).

NOTE:

The 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s schedule has been extended by one month, in consideration of new demands on Committee members’ schedules due to COVID-19. USDA and HHS continue to plan for the release of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans by the end of the year.

To stay connected and receive updates as the Committee’s work progresses, please check DietaryGuidelines.gov.

Plant-Based Eating Done Right

From the Impossible burger to the Beyond taco, plant-based ‘meats’ are everywhere. Products like these are fueling the plant-based diet movement.

While we’re thrilled to see this healthy way of eating become more popular, let’s make sure the right messages are getting out there. Today we want to share a few materials and tips to help you quickly put together a class on real-food plant-based eating.

Our Grown, Not Processed poster says it all. The elegant photographs of fresh produce are a reminder of what real food looks like, in stark contrast to the images of fake-meat sandwiches that consumers see every day.

Our Plant Power! poster might be better for younger audiences. They’ll be drawn to the iguana, then realize he’s made up of vibrant photos of plant foods. And the poster comes with a handy plant-based diet quiz!

These are just two examples of materials that can spark a conversation about real food, plant-based eating, and where processed plant-based ‘meats’ fit in. Here are five teaching tips to use:

  • Eating Out: Bring some local restaurant menus to class, or ask participants to look up their favorites on their phones. Have them find plant-based items on the menu. Are these options highly processed? High in fat or salt? Help them find the healthiest plant-based menu items, and discuss how not-so-healthy items could be modified.
  • Some Meat is OK: Ask participants to name their favorite meat or poultry-based dish. How can they change it so the meat is more of a side dish or garnish? Discuss how a plant-based diet doesn’t have to mean a completely meatless diet.
  • Plant-Based MyPlate: Working in small groups, have participants come up with a few plant-based meals that follow MyPlate. On a large piece of flip-chart paper, have them draw a circle (plate) for each meal and fill in the MyPlate sections with the name (or drawing) of the food. The groups can then come together to share their meal ideas.
  • Unprocessed Plant Protein: Do a cooking demo featuring beans, peas, or lentils. Pass around small zip-top baggies holding different types of dried legumes so people can see the huge variety of choices.
  • Processed Plant Protein: Bring in packaging from products you can find in the supermarket, like frozen veggie burgers and corndogs, chicken-less tenders, fish-less filets, etc. Let individuals or small groups take one or two packages and tell the class about the product, its ingredients, nutrition facts, and how they think it fits into a plant-based way of eating.

Let’s show people that it’s not impossible to fit more plant foods into their diet. In fact, if they go Beyond the processed products advertised on TV, they’re sure to find lots of healthy, delicious, real-food options in the produce section of the grocery store!

Use the code PLANTS15 to get 15% off all of our plant-based teaching resources and prizes! Good until February 1st. Hurry!

 

 

 

Have You Seen Our Salad Mandala?!

Have you seen our Salad Mandalas? Yes, you read that right – but you have to see it to believe it, so take a look at the bottom of this page and then read on!

We know you’ll love these beautiful works of art as much as we do! Eye-catching and discussion-generating, they will brighten up any area and remind people to eat their fruits and vegetables every day.

Not sure what to do with our Salad Mandalas? Whether you choose the floor or wall decal, they’ll stick to most clean, smooth surfaces and are removable. Here are some ideas on where to put them:

  • In a hospital… A Salad Mandala on the floor or wall is the perfect way to identify dietitians’ offices, the nutrition department, kitchen, or cafeteria – wherever you want people to know that healthy eating is a priority here!
  • In a nursing home… Hang one up the dining area or other common room where residents and visitors can enjoy the beautiful colors.
  • In a school… Students and staff will get a kick out of seeing Salad Mandalas on the wall or floor of the cafeteria or gym, the nurse’s office, food service director’s office, health classrooms, and hallways.
  • In a fitness center… Brighten up the locker rooms or aerobics studio.
  • In a doctor’s office… Patients will appreciate having something unique to look at while they wait, making the Salad Mandala a good choice for exam rooms.
  • In a library… Use one as part of a display for nutrition month in March, salad month in May, or farmer’s market week in August, along with selected cookbooks or children’s books that feature fruits and veggies.
  • At a health fair… Attract a crowd with the Salad Mandala decal – on the floor in front of your booth or on the wall behind it.
  • In a vending machine area… Remind everyone about the healthiest snacks of all!

And here are some activities to go with our Salad Mandala decals:

  • Preschool/early elementary class… Use the Salad Mandala to teach colors, practice counting, or learn the names of fruits and vegetables. Have a special Salad Mandala Snack – everyone can make their own mandala on a paper plate with cut up fruits and veggies.
  • Caught eating healthy… Put the Salad Mandala on a wall in the school cafeteria. Ask parent volunteers to come in during lunchtime once a week to snap pictures of kids who are eating a fruit or vegetable that day. Then post the pictures around the mandala. Watch the circle grow bigger every week!
  • Salad day selfies… Let adults in on the fun in your workplace or hospital cafeteria! Build a salad from the salad bar, then take a selfie in front of the Salad Mandala decal and post it to your social media page.
  • Salad Mandala search… Put the mandala in a different classroom, hallway, office, or other location every week to generate interest.

Be sure to let us know what YOU do with our Salad Mandala decals!

 

Real Food Grows

Consumers are easily fooled by processed foods disguised as healthy food. It might a big red strawberry on the front of a box of toaster pastries. Or it might be the name of the food itself, as in banana nut oat bran muffins.

They won’t be fooled if they remember that real food grows. Is it something that grew into what it is today? Or has it been processed with ingredients added to create a new kind of food? 

Our Real Food Grows materials get this point across beautifully. Here are some activities to go along with them:

  • Print out a list of some real foods and processed foods in random order. Have participants circle all the real foods. Then discuss why they are real and why the others are not. For a super-quick way to do this activity, use our Real Food Grows bookmarks, which have a list of items on the back.
  • Pass out a variety of real foods and processed food packages. Have each participant say whether their food grows or not. Ask them to tell what ingredients are in their item. For an apple, the ingredient will just be an apple. For an apple fritter, the list will obviously be longer. You can also ask a volunteer to be the scribe who writes the ingredients on a whiteboard or flip chart. They’ll quickly get tired of writing out the long list of ingredients in processed foods and everyone will get the point!
  • Ask questions to get a discussion going about foods disguised to be healthy… Breakfast cereals that contain fruit or nuts? Fruit and grain bars? Banana nut muffins? Oat bran pretzels? Strawberry frozen yogurt bars? Veggie straws or crisps?

It’s so simple, but we need to be reminded every day that Real Food Grows!

DIY Photo Booth

Registered dietitians talk a lot about fruits and vegetables. Give yourself a break from all that talking with our Colors of Health theme. Beautiful photographs of 16 fruits and veggies communicate the healthy eating message without words.

Our Color Your World With Food banner makes the perfect background for a photo booth. The simplest way to do this is to have people pose for a selfie next to the banner. Or you could make it more fun with some props. We suggest our Fruit and Vegetable Mask and Fruit and Vegetable Shaped Balloons. Fruit- and vegetable-shaped plush toys or pillows would also be good.

If you use props, people won’t be able to take their own selfies. They can hand you their phone and let you take their picture. Or you can use an iPad or your own camera, then send the pictures by email or text message with instructions to tag your organization or hashtags. You could also upload them to your Facebook page (you may need to have people sign a simple release form). This could be a great way to get more followers! People can find their picture, tag themselves, and share it with their friends.

The photo booth would go over well at a health fair. You could also set it up in a cafeteria or lobby area. This summer, it would be neat to take it on the road to a summer meal program site. Kids love to get their pictures!

And if you want to give them a little more, you can always give away our Color Your World With Food bookmarks or stickers.

We can also design any banner you can use in a DIY photo booth – send us a request for quote!

Healthier choices are as easy as 1-2-3

Our Healthier Choices 123 materials provide a simple way to encourage people to make healthy lifestyle changes. The three step concept is perfect for all audiences, from busy, budget-conscious adults to short-attention-span kids.

Set up a health fair or table display with the Healthier Choices 123 poster or banner as the focal point. Then add an activity to go along with each step. Here are some ideas:

Step 1 – Drink water instead of sugary drinks.  

  • Fill an empty 20oz soda bottle with 16 teaspoons of sugar. Compare that to a bottle of water that has zero teaspoons of sugar.
  • Energy drinks, teas, and sports drinks can have as much sugar as soda. Display bottles and cans of these beverages so people can check the grams of sugar per serving.
  • Choose alternatives: water (add fruit or herbs) or unsweetened tea. Have a pitcher of ice water, small cups, and some cut up fruit for people to add.
  • Replacing one can of soda per day with water saves more than 50,000 calories in a year. Think of the money you’ll also save (tap water is free!).

Step 2 – Choose activity instead of screens.

  • How many more calories do you burn by moving instead of sitting? At least twice as many!
  • Replacing 30 minutes of screen time with 30 minutes of brisk walking will help you burn an extra 40,000+ calories per year.
  • Write different 10-minute activities on small pieces of paper or index cards (walk the dog, do laundry, vacuum, shoot baskets, etc). Fold them and put them in a large bowl or jar. Let each person take out three. When they do all three in a day, they’ll have moved for 30 minutes.

Step 3 – Choose fruits and veggies instead of sugary or fried foods.

  • Fruits and vegetables have fewer calories but more nutrients compared to foods like chips, French fries, and cookies.
  • Replacing a bag of chips with an apple will save you 25,550 calories per year.
  • Use food models, pictures, or real food to compare calories in fruit- and vegetable-rich meals vs higher fat choices. For example, you could show two meal choices at McDonald’s: a southwest grilled chicken salad (350 calories) vs a double cheeseburger & medium fries (770 calories).

As a take-home message, set out blank index cards and colorful markers. Ask people to write or draw the healthier choice they plan to make for each step. Tell them to keep the card in their wallet or on their refrigerator – wherever it will remind them of the changes they want to make.

Click here to get 15% off this collection for the first week of April 2019.

Local Food Lesson With Handout Download and Reference Links

Local food is becoming an important trend in the U.S. The USDA estimates that over $8 billion dollars worth of local foods are produced and sold in the US. (https://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Newsroom/2016/12_20_16.php)

This trend is being shaped by the Millenial generation who are becoming sustainable farmers after leaving high-tech jobs and this same generation also wants to buy these foods.

After shopping at many local farmer’s markets and grocery stores that excel in local food sales we feel it is a very good trend.

Whole Foods has a great article about this trend here:

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/local

Basically they point out that the bio-diversity of food is preserved. Land use remains diverse. Food quality remains much higher and local dollars boost the local economy.

When you see the quality of local produce as well as some of the lower prices you will have to agree. By promoting this type of food in nutrition education you can help consumers focus on adding more fruits and vegetables to their diet.

It is really fun to find many types of swiss chard from green to rainbow. Or to explore many types of beets, kale, apples, tomatoes, and lettuce. The feeling one gets while walking through these markets is one of abundance and excitement. Instead of giving up cake and all kinds of packaged snacks you are getting all kinds of new fruits and vegetables to try in your kitchen. Plus walking through the markets is great exercise.

Check out our recent photos and brand new theme titled, “Bring the Farm to the Table”

Here is a handout about the benefits of Local Foods and how to purchase them.

Freedom from Chronic Disease

Bonus Alert: This post contains a free handout!

What do healthful eating and the Statue of Liberty have in common? You may be surprised by the answer.

When I went to see the Statue of Liberty, I was struck by her beauty. To my surprise, her natural green patina reminded me of kale. Kale is beautiful too, but I certainly didn’t expect it to pop into my head when I was looking at the Statue of Liberty.

But the more I looked, the more the statue reminded me of the colors and textures of fruits and vegetables.

I pictured the statue dressed in kale, holding a fiery fruit and veggie torch. In that moment, I knew I had to use that imagery in a poster. Both the statue and the vegetables represent freedom to me. In the statue’s case, it is the freedom from tyranny, and, in the food’s case, the fresh fruits and vegetables offer freedom from chronic disease.

Fruit, Vegetables, and Freedom from Chronic Disease

According to MyPlate, the USDA’s guide to healthful and balanced eating, “Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke. Eating a diet rich in some vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may protect against certain types of cancers. Diets rich in foods containing fiber, such as some vegetables and fruits, may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.”

As always, a wide variety of fruits and vegetables is best, in order to take advantage of their amazing health benefits. Blueberries, for example, are loaded with anthocyanins, which have been shown to slow and even reverse age-related declines in brain function, as well as cognitive and motor performance. Other compounds in blueberries may delay the effects of vascular dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Dark leafy greens, on the other hand, contain different compounds with other health benefits. They offer excellent supplies of vitamins A, C, and K, for example, and it is these vitamins that protect your bones, decrease inflammation, support cell growth and development, protect vision, support your circulatory system, and improve immune function. The Agricultural Research Service asserts that “Because of their high content of antioxidants, green leafy vegetables may be one of the best cancer-preventing foods. Studies have shown that eating 2 to 3 servings of green leafy vegetables per week may lower the risk of stomach, breast and skin cancer.”

With their disease-fighting compounds and health-boosting effects, fresh fruits and vegetables may offer the very thing that so many people truly want: freedom from chronic disease.

Making the Poster

After I had the idea to make a fruit and vegetable Statue of Liberty, I raced to my artist to see what he could put together. His creative take on the fresh foods that offer freedom from chronic disease completely wowed me, and I immediately put our research team to work. They crafted a fantastic handout that outlines just how vital fruits and vegetables are in the fight against chronic disease. Want to see it for yourself? The handout will be a free accompaniment to the poster.

After that, all I had to do was put the poster in the store.

Once it was up, I was blown away by the customer response! Since so many people asked how I had thought up the idea to combine two ways of looking at freedom, I decided to write this post. I hope you enjoyed it. If you’re looking for more about the Statue of Liberty, check out the amazing torch webcams or read through the fascinating story of the Statue of Liberty’s past.

By Judy Doherty, PC II and Founder of Food and Health Communications

Get your own copy of the Freedom from Chronic Disease poster today! And check out the latest and greatest additions to the Nutrition Education Store…

Freedom from Chronic Disease Poster

Healthful Fast Food Choices Brochure

Healthier Choices 1-2-3 Poster

Looking for that free handout? Look no further! Here’s your guide to the health benefits of fruits and vegetables, which offer freedom from chronic disease. Download your copy today!

Freedom Handout