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, Fears & COVID-19

COVID-19 has put us all into uncharted territory. Everyone has their own way of dealing with this uncertain time, but it’s safe to say that at some point we all have fears. And many of these fears involve food.

As nutrition and health educators, how can we help? Here are some ideas to get you thinking about how to address some of the common fears so many of us are facing:

Financial fears: Many people are worried about money. They may have lost their job, had hours decreased, or taken a pay cut. We can help by sharing information about healthy eating on a budget:

  • Shop smart: Stretching food dollars is a priority when money is tight. Our Healthy Shopping on a Budget PowerPoint show covers it all.
  • Shop for produce in season to stay safe: Remind folks to buy what’s in “season” for the lowest price. Some items like cabbage, carrots, and potatoes are always in season and very low in cost. Remember to keep potatoes in a paper bag at room temperature for optimum storage life. If items look like they are losing freshness you can cook them and freeze them so you don’t lose them.
  • Pantry raid: Give tips to use up everything in your cabinets, refrigerator, and freezer.
  • Protein pro: Talk about more economical protein sources like beans, nuts, seeds, nut butter, low-fat dairy, vegetables, and less-expensive cuts of meat. Beans and lentils are always lower in cost than meat. Chicken thighs are 2.29 per pound while dried beans are $3.49 per pound. BUT one pound of beans will yield 5-6 cups of cooked beans or about 3 pounds. So the beans are a better deal. They are also high in fiber.
  • MyPlate: Focus on filling the plate with budget-friendly choices for each food group. Check out our MyPlate on a Budget tearpad.
  • COVID-19 twist: Acknowledge that some people are wary of buying fresh produce. Try to alleviate these fears by talking about basic food safety, but also provide tips on healthy canned and frozen options. Keep up to date with the FDA news feed on food and COVID-19. Currently, there is no evidence of COVID-19 being transmitted via food. Local news and health departments have all the updates on local laws for shelter in place and using masks. Many stores require masks and for people to stay 6 feet apart. Seniors and those with compromised immune systems can follow special shopping hours or use a delivery service like Instacart.

Weight gain fears: Some folks are worried about gaining weight. They’re working at home and the kitchen is a constant temptation. Stress eating is also an issue. We can help by sharing strategies that promote healthy eating:

  • Shop smart: If you buy the right foods at the supermarket, you’ll have the right foods at home. Our Shopping Smart for Weight Loss PowerPoint show is a great start.
  • Steady is good: Help people realize that even if they’re overweight, it might be smarter to focus on maintaining rather than losing weight during this time.
  • Small is smart: Talk about making small changes that will add up to a healthier diet. And for those who are trying to lose weight, remind them that losing just 5-10% of their body weight is enough to make a difference.
  • Think about drinks: Warn people about sipping on sugary beverages while binge-watching. Some folks might be drinking more alcohol, too, so it can’t hurt to remind them about lower-calorie choices and watching portion sizes.
  • Home chefs: People have more time on their hands, restaurants are closed, and they’re craving comfort foods. Our 25 Ingredients, 15 Meals PowerPoint show can help them get cooking the healthy way, while also saving money!
  • Eating your worries: It happens to the best of us. Our Stress Eating PowerPoint show is full of strategies to help.
  • COVID-19 twist: Some people are highly motivated to make healthy changes during this time. For others, it’s just too overwhelming to add diet to everything else they’re dealing with (kids, work, aging parents at risk). We have to be there for both and for everyone who’s in between.

 

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.

Using STEM to teach HEPA

If you teach or work with kids, you probably know about STEM. It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and we hear about it a lot in terms of preparing students for the jobs of the future. But did you also know that we can use STEM to teach HEPA?

If HEPA makes you think of filters and allergies, think again! It’s a handy way to say Healthy Eating and Physical Activity. HEPA-focused STEM activities give kids the skills they need to make healthy choices. That’s why STEM is on our list of hot topics for 2020.

There are many ways to incorporate HEPA into STEM programs. Here are just a few ideas:

  1. Use food for hands-on nutrition activities that engage students, like this simple activity from the Children’s Museum of Houston about fat in food: https://www.cmhouston.org/experiment-fat.
  2. Teach cooking. Learning how to cook healthy food is a skill that will last a lifetime. Check out our Learn to Cook Workbook. Students will learn STEM-related concepts like food safety, cooking methods, and how to follow a recipe. There are even cooking-related math problems!
  3. Sharpen math skills with nutrition and physical activity lessons. We have the all the materials you need to combine math with HEPA:
    1. Math of Fiber
    2. Sugar Math
    3. Sodium Math
    4. Food Label Math
    5. Math of Movement
    6. Calorie Math
  4. Talk to students about HEPA-related STEM careers. Find information on these jobs at StemJobs.com:
    1. Nutritionist/dietitian
    2. Chef
    3. Professional food forager
    4. Food scientist
    5. Health teacher

Be sure to check out our entire collection of STEM-related materials. Use nutrition science and math to teach students of all ages (including adults) to make healthy choices!

5 Ways to Use Our MyPlate Adult Coloring Books

Have you ever thought about using adult coloring books with your clients or patients? Coloring can be meditative. It takes your mind off your worries. It relaxes the brain. And with our unique MyPlate adult coloring book, you get the added benefit of being exposed to healthy messages and images of healthy foods!

We have five ideas for how you can use our MyPlate coloring book, which is geared toward adults and teens:

  • Color-while-you-wait. In a waiting area, set up a table with a few of our MyPlate coloring books and a mug or two filled with sharpened colored pencils. Add a sign that invites people to sit down and color, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Maybe something like this: “Stressed out? Relax with some coloring!”
  • Color-for-a-tough-audience. Have you ever been asked to teach a healthy eating class and the audience is restless or just not that interested? We’ve all been there! Maybe it’s a group of high school students who have other things on their minds, a lunch-and-learn with stressed out employees, or an evening class where people are tired. Flip the switch with some MyPlate coloring!
  • Color-to-recharge. Teaching a seminar or workshop? When you give participants a restroom break, add an extra five minutes for some MyPlate coloring.
  • Color-to-recover. Coloring is great for patients recovering from surgery. It gives their brains something to concentrate on besides pain, discomfort, boredom, or worry.
  • Color-giveaway. Use our MyPlate adult coloring books as prizes at health fairs, biometric screenings, open houses, and other events.

And don’t forget to save one for yourself — your brain deserves a break, too!

See our free coloring sheet here in our nutrition month theme.

Start September with Meal Planning

There’s something about September that makes people feel refreshed and ready to start something new. This makes it the perfect time to talk about menu planning. Use our Menu Planning handout to show your clients the benefits of planning ahead.

Here are the benefits of planning meals ahead of time:

  • Your healthy eating plan is in writing, so you won’t “forget” your intentions halfway through the week.
  • Your written menu plan makes food shopping easy because you know exactly what you need to buy.
  • Instead of shopping, why not write a menu with 4-5 dinner ideas (like this one) then use a meal delivery app like Instacart, Amazon, or any online local delivery service to have your grocery list delivered to your door!
  • By shopping online you can find store specials for an ingredient (sort), stick to your list, and use the extra time to plan your menu, clean your kitchen, cook, and get organized for another week. A little experimentation shows it can save money because you are not adding “extras” from store aisle temptations!
  • Great ideas for fall meals include winter squash, beans, lentils, chickpea stews, chili, and delicious meals that cook or roast for a while to add aroma and warmth to a kitchen. These types of meals can be served over several days in one week.

123 method of meal planning:

  1. Think flavor instead of meat! Do you like spicy, roasted, thick and hearty? Plan meals around beans and lean protein and focus on flavors instead of meat as the centerpiece. Think about seasonal veggies and use them as the centerpiece. Here are a few examples: spicy bean chili, roasted winter squash, creamy corn chowder, and thick lentil-vegetable soup. If you use meat or poultry or fish, use it in smaller amounts and as a flavoring agent.
  2. Include a fibery starch like whole grains, beans, potatoes, yams, peas or winter squash.
  3. Include a seasonal, non-starchy vegetable like greens, tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli, peppers, etc. Salad counts!

Remember MyPlate’s lesson to make half of your plate veggies or fruits and veggies.

If planning a week’s worth of meals is overwhelming, we have some suggestions to make it easier:

  • Pick one or two food groups to plan, such as fruits and/or vegetables.
  • Plan for 3-4 days instead of the week.
  • Choose one meal to focus on and plan that for the week.

Help your clients say goodbye to summer and hello to healthy meal planning!

Fall in Love with Salad

I was recently stuck at the airport on the way home from a trip to New Orleans. It was lunch time and after a weekend of jambalaya, etouffee, gumbo, bananas Foster, and beignets, what I really wanted was a big healthy salad.

Lucky for me, I found a pretty nice pre-made salad at an airport shop. That’s the great thing about salad – you can get one just about anywhere. The catch? When it comes to nutrition, not all salads are created equal. Teach your clients to build a healthy salad wherever they are with our beautiful Salad Themed materials.

Start with our Fall In Love With Salad poster. It’s a bestseller and the content is aligned with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, MyPlate, and the Offer Versus Serve Program. And it comes with handouts, including salad fact sheets, fun puzzles, and recipes.

Use the poster’s key healthy salad messages for individual counseling or group sessions:

  • 6 Salad Lover Tips, like choosing darker greens, piling on colorful veggies and fruits, watching out for high fat toppings, adding protein, and using a healthy but tasty dressing.
  • 3 Reasons to Love Salad: it’s a great way to fit more veggies into your day, eat fewer calories, and get more nutrients and fiber.
  • How to spice up your salad with different ingredients, like Mandarin oranges, water chestnuts, or arugula.
  • Play “what should it be?”. Create a virtual salad using the audience’s favorite vegetables and writing these down on a dry erase board. Calculate the calories quickly by googling “calories for x” with x being the vegetable and let everyone in the audience help. Add them up. Most salads are less than 100 calories. Then go to the fast food websites and check out the calories for popular salads and check out those calories, which often go above the sandwiches and burgers. Why is there a greater difference? See if the audience can guess. By putting the dressing on the side and making smarter choices they can ensure that their salad is a low-calorie choice! Check out a visual comparison here.

To remind people to eat a healthy salad every day, give them one of our I Love Salad wristbands. What’s not to love about salad?

Custom farm to school wall decals brighten and educate school walls


 

Paula Wucklund, Fuel Up to Play 60 Coach, and physical education teacher, wanted to help her fellow PE teachers and school cafeterias in Arkansas. She wanted to illustrate how the farm to school program brings healthier foods into the schools and to create awareness of MyPlate, physical activity, and healthier eating for the students and the staff.

She contacted us and we designed custom wall decal banners for Arkansas schools. The first goal was to feature the stories and photos of many of the wonderful farmers in Arkansas to show how they work hard to grow crops, raise livestock, and produce dairy foods for students. And she wanted to illustrate MyPlate food groups with their goals and benefits. Finally we included photographs of each of the food groups.

The benefits of the end result is easy to see in the photos above. The 5 food groups were featured on wall decals while the MyPlate floor banner greets the students coming into the cafeteria. The items can be adhered to the walls and they are removable.

The schools will have a choice between vertical or horizontal orientations so that they can determine which works best for their walls.

The Arkansas Farm to School program connects Arkansas farmers to preschools and K-12 schools, so that they can provide fresh produce in school meals. The wall decal posters/banners that we created will help students, teachers, and cafeteria workers realize the importance of agriculture and healthful diets for school meals.

Food and Health Communications designed the banners and provided all of the forms so that Paula could contact the farmers and get their high-quality images and stories to share on the banners. They also provided the expertise for recommending MyPlate food groups and for the colorful food images. And their graphic design gave the banners an Arkansas state icon and brand.

We can create a set of farm to school banners for any school program. Contact us to get help now.