Plant-Based Beats Processed

It seems like processed and ultra-processed foods have been in the news a lot lately.

While some people get mired in conversations about what foods should be considered processed (canned beans? whole grain bread?), you can’t go wrong by promoting a plant-based eating pattern that’s centered on vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, and fruits.

We have some great ways to get your students, clients, or employees off the processed food track and on the road to a plant-based eating pattern.

1. One of our newest posters uses pictures to encourage nutrient-dense foods over ultra-processed ones:

2. One look at this poster (which also comes as a banner, stickers, and bookmarks) kind of says it all:

3. If there’s a health fair in your future, create an eye-catching display with our Real Food Grows theme materials. You’ll really get their attention when you wear our fruit and veggie mask!

By Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

Nutrition Security for Older Americans

While higher food costs make healthy eating on a budget challenging for everyone, seniors living on a fixed income are especially vulnerable. Yet, older adults can’t afford to skimp on nutrition!

Our Healthy Plate for Older Americans poster guides seniors to food and beverage choices that give the most nutrition bang for their buck.

Here are some tips for using this MyPlate-based poster to educate older adults – and their caregivers – about healthy and affordable food:

  • Protein priority: With sky-high meat and poultry prices, seniors need to learn about less expensive sources of protein. Proper portion sizes can also help – filling just one quarter of your plate with healthy protein is a simple way to stretch food dollars.
  • Going for the (whole) grain: The cheapest loaf of white bread isn’t the healthiest choice for older adults. Teach them to look for 100% whole grain bread, pasta, and cereal at a decent price.
  • Fruit and veggie steals: Buying in season makes filling half your plate with healthy fruits and veggies more affordable. Education about choosing and preparing canned and frozen fruits and vegetables can help as well.
  • Dairy deals: Skipping that cup of low-fat milk may be an effective cost-cutting measure for some older adults, but they need the nutrients supplied by dairy foods. Teach them to choose budget-friendly, healthy dairy products in the right portion size.
  • Stay home for sodium: Restaurant meals are typically higher in sodium – and more expensive – than home-cooked meals.

Don’t forget about non-profit and government food assistance programs for older Americans, such as the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, SNAP, and Meals on Wheels.

And if you’re a caregiver, dietitian, foodservice manager, or other professional who works with seniors, check out our Diet Facts for Seniors PowerPoint with handouts.

By Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

 

 

Sleep is Essential to Heart Health

Healthy sleep is the newest addition to the American Heart Association’s (AHA) checklist to measure cardiovascular health, which was recently released as Life’s Essential 8TM. Sleep joins seven other factors AHA says can help lower the risk for heart disease, stroke, and other major health problems.

You can spread the word about healthy sleep with our Sleep Right poster, which provides an introduction to the importance of sleep and how to get a good night’s sleep.

Whether you’re working with students in the classroom, educating your followers on social media, or counseling individuals, here are some ways to slip in some sleep education:

  • It’s never too early: incorporate healthy sleep tips when you’re talking to new parents, teachers, and kids.
  • What you do during the day counts: emphasize that a good night’s sleep doesn’t just happen. What you eat and drink and your activity level can help or hinder your sleep.
  • Measure your sleep: an activity tracker on your phone or watch isn’t reliable enough to diagnose sleep issues, but it can give you a general idea of how you’re sleeping. (A pen and paper sleep diary will do the job, too!)
  • You can get too much: we talk a lot about getting enough sleep, but excessive sleep is also related to heart disease and other health problems.

By Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

3-in-1 Healthy Habit Tool

If you’re looking for a reward chart, habit tracker, and list of achievable health goals all in one, then you’ll appreciate our Reward Chart!

This 3-in-1 tool comes as a poster and a handout tearpad. You can write and erase on the poster or let everyone have their own chart from the tearpad.

The Reward Chart lists simple goals based on MyPlate that include physical activity, healthy beverages, food choices, and other healthy habits.

Here are some ways to use the Reward Chart poster and tearpad:

  • Display the poster in your office or classroom with a dry-erase marker nearby. Let clients or students check off something they did that day or that week.
  • Brainstorm non-food rewards your students or clients can use as incentives to achieve a certain number of goals per week.
  • Discuss strategies to achieve the goals on the chart. How can your students or clients make it easier for themselves to make that healthy choice?
  • Review the goals listed for each category and ask how many people in the class or audience already do that habit regularly. Invite them to share how they have been successful.
  • Emphasize that your students or clients don’t have to achieve every single goal that is listed! Choosing one or two goals makes it easier to focus and feel a sense of accomplishment.

Even if you don’t use the Reward Chart as a habit tracker, it’s a great resource for healthy living and MyPlate tips!

By Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

 

Foods to Fight Stress?

We’re big fans of the Mediterranean-style eating pattern, so it’s not surprising to see it recommended in this this article from the Cleveland Clinic to help people fight stress.

Vegetables, legumes, nuts, fruit, whole grains, fish, lean protein, and healthy fats are foods that can help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Why not offer some nutrition education to help your clients, students, or employees manage their stress? An added bonus of teaching the Mediterranean eating pattern is its positive impact on heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and overall health.

We have all the materials you need to spread the word about the anti-stress Mediterranean way of eating:

  1. Start with our Mediterranean Diet PowerPoint show. With 100+ slides, handouts, and a leader guide, this has everything you need to put on a webinar series or a lunch-and-learn session. It’s also useful for individual consultations.
  2. Create a bulletin board display about ways to relieve stress, centered on our Mediterranean Diet poster. Also include information on sleep, exercise, meditation, and other stress-fighters.
  3. Add an anti-stress look to your office or classroom with our Mediterranean Diet 9 Photo Montage Print. It’s a beautiful way to advertise stress-relieving, Mediterranean-inspired foods.

By Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

The Art of Advertising Healthy Food

Are you looking for a beautiful way to advertise healthy, fresh food? Our food art posters are the answer!

These one-of-a-kind masterpieces combine professional photography with motivational messages that will make you want to drop everything and go to the nearest fresh produce market.

Here are a few of my current favorites:

  1. Shine a Light on Veggies features a stunning still-life of asparagus spears. Asparagus is in season in many parts of the country, so what better time to increase its exposure with this gorgeous poster?
  2. Brighten Your Basket reminds you to fill your supermarket cart or farmer’s market basket with fresh produce like those pictured: onions, avocados, Meyer lemons, radishes, and baby bok choy.
  3. Bring the Farm to Your Table says it all with a beautiful display of fresh baby carrots, beets, potatoes, chard, and asparagus.
  4. Nature’s Fast Food’s juicy peaches and bright red cherries will have your mouth watering for these summer tree fruits!
  5. Grown, Not Processed is the ultimate advertisement for choosing a variety of colorful, fresh fruits and veggies. It promotes beets, garlic, peaches, fennel, radishes, carrots, greens (kale, lettuce, parsley), portabella mushrooms, and oyster mushrooms.

Framing these food art posters will give your office or waiting room an upscale feeling. But they’re also affordable enough to be used (framed or unframed) in cafeterias, hallways, and classrooms.

By Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

Celebrate MyPlate This Summer

June 2nd is MyPlate’s 11th birthday! Celebrate with these 11 tips for teaching with MyPlate, using materials from NutritionEducationStore.com and MyPlate.gov:

  1. First stop: Look at all the items available in our MyPlate theme. Whether you’re planning a booth at a health fair or decorating a bulletin board, you’re sure to find something inspiring here.
  2. Make it your own: Everyone’s MyPlate doesn’t have to look the same! Give your audience the MyPlate Quiz to assess current eating patterns and identify healthy eating interests.
    • Each person who completes the quiz receives a snapshot of how they’re doing on the food groups, along with personalized resources and tip sheets.
    • Users can also sync their quiz results in the free Start Simple with MyPlate app and set food group goals based on those results.
  3. MyPlate 101: Offer a class on MyPlate. We’ve done the work for you with our MyPlate PowerPoint lesson, which includes three different presentations with handouts:
    • MyPlate for Adults
    • MyPlate Express
    • MyPlate for Kids
  4. Go social: Let your friends and followers know it’s MyPlate’s birthday. Encourage them to share their favorite summertime meals, nutrition tips, or activities using #MyPlateBirthday.
  5. Make it fun: Everyone will learn about MyPlate AND have fun playing ourMyPlate Trivia Game or MyPlate Bingo.
  6. Earn the badge: MyPlate’s Birthday App Challenge runs from June 1 through June 30, 2022. Achieve 11 food group goals to earn the 11th birthday badge!
  7. MiPlato: Distribute these color handouts that come in English and Spanish:
  8. Ask Alexa: MyPlate is now an Alexa skill!
  9. Wear the MyPlate message: Give out our MyPlate (or MiPlato) wristbands.
  10. Get cooking: Find healthy, delicious recipes online in the MyPlate Kitchen.
  11. Eat with your eyes: Take MyPlate further by using MyPlate Food Photos to show real, healthy, mouthwatering foods that go on real plates.

Find more ways to celebrate MyPlate’s 11th birthday here.

By Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

 

Show Off Fruits & Veggies

‘Tis the season for fresh fruits and vegetables and we have a beautiful new poster that shows them off. Take a look at the I Heart Fruits & Veggies poster:

Here are some ways to use this bright, eye-catching poster in your nutrition and health education:

  • With younger children:
    • Ask questions…
      • What colors do you see?
      • Can you count the fruits and veggies?
      • Can you name them?
      • Which ones do you eat?
      • Which ones have you never tried before?
    • Do a hands-on activity with a fruit or veggie that’s in season: look, touch, smell, taste.
    • Have a fruit & vegetable story time: here are some children’s book suggestions from University of Nevada Extension.
  • With teens and adults:
    • Ask questions…
      • How many of these fruits/veggies can you name?
      • Which ones have you tried?
      • Which ones do you like?
      • How do you prepare them?
      • Are there any that you’ve never tried?
      • Any you’ve never seen?
  • Alongside these nutrition education topics and activities:

By Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

4 Ways to Use the MyPlate App to Teach Healthy Eating on a Budget

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently released Actions on Nutrition Security, a report on the agency’s commitment to ensuring both nutrition security and food security to support optimal health and well-being for all Americans.

  • Food security is having enough calories.
  • Nutrition security is having the right calories.

Healthy Eating on a Budget Poster

Our Healthy Eating on a Budget poster conveys a simple, yet effective, four-step approach to help your students, employees, or clients make healthy, budget-conscious decisions at the supermarket.

  • Step 1: Buy on sale and in season
  • Step 2: Buy less processed food
  • Step 3: Buy only what you need, avoid food waste
  • Step 4: Skip the royalties (high fat/high sugar foods and beverages, like chips, candy, and soda)

Go a step further by combining the Healthy Eating on a Budget poster with USDA’s free Shop Simple with MyPlate mobile or desktop app.

  • Create an eye-catching and informative bulletin board. Put the Healthy Eating on a Budget poster in the middle, surrounded with color printouts of key screenshots from the app, OR
  • Hold a lunch-and-learn session to introduce the four steps to eating healthy on a budget. Use the Shop Simple with MyPlate app to engage your audience in real-life scenarios.

Using MyPlate App with Healthy Eating on a Budget steps

  1. How to find seasonal fresh produce or the most affordable canned/frozen fruits and veggies using the Shop Simple with MyPlate app:
    • Click on Ways to Save -> Shop Smart -> Fruits and Vegetables. From here you’ll find a link to the Seasonal Produce Guide from SNAP-Ed Connection, as well as tips on choosing canned and frozen fruits and veggies.
    • You can also Browse Budget-Friendly Fruits and Browse Budget-Friendly Vegetables.
    • To locate the nearest farmers market, click on Farmers Markets in your area. Enter your zip code, then click on Find Farmers Markets. You’ll get a list of farmers markets in the area. Click on the market to get directions.
  1. How to choose less-processed protein foods when meat, poultry, and fish prices are so high, using the Shop Simple with MyPlate app:
    • Click on Browse by MyPlate Food Groups -> Protein Foods. You’ll find a list of budget-friendly protein foods, along with tips, serving ideas, recipes, and nutrition information.
      • For example, under chicken drumsticks or thighs, there’s information on freezing chicken when it’s on sale, and how to make baked chicken nuggets at home.
  1. How to cut down on food waste using the Shop Simple with MyPlate app:
    • For each budget-friendly food, the app gives tips that can help limit food waste.
      • For example, the app tells you how long milk stays fresh after opening, and how to freeze and thaw milk. It also provides ideas on how to use up foods that are about to go bad or are over-ripe.
  1. How to avoid impulse purchases of junk food using the Shop Simple with MyPlate app: Even when junk food isn’t on your shopping list, it can end up in your cart when you shop while hungry or give in to a screaming child. One way to deal with this is to order online for curbside pickup.
    • Not all grocery stores accept SNAP/EBT for online orders, but the Shop Simple with MyPlate app can help you find ones that do.
      • On the home page, click on SNAP EBT Savings. Enter your zip code and click Find Stores. Choose Online SNAP Stores. Click on the name of the store and you’ll be directed to the retailer’s website page that explains how to use your SNAP/EBT card for online orders.

Did you know?

One final tip: You can use SNAP benefits to purchase fresh herbs for cooking, as well as fruit, vegetable, and herb plants for gardening.

By Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

Don’t Get Hooked by the See-Food Diet

A school nurse recently bought our See Food Diet Poster. She says she is trying to get all the kids on a good schedule with eating right, sleeping, and learning after all the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In fact, she loves this poster so much that we made it into a banner for her – yes, all our posters are also available as banners!

The See Food poster features a beautiful fish swimming along in the sea. The fish is tempted by hook after hook baited with not-so-healthy food choices like soda, chili dogs, cake, and candy.

But if the fish takes its eyes off the junk food, it will find a treasure chest spilling over with healthier food choices.

The message? Don’t eat everything you see. Don’t get hooked!

Kids (and adults!) will love this colorful and fun poster. You can use it to generate discussions about:

  1. The food industry and how junk food and fast food are formulated to tempt your tastebuds.
  2. Mindful eating and how to pause instead of automatically taking the bait of unhealthy food.
  3. Planning ahead so you always have healthy foods handy.
  4. Using portion control so you can have occasional treats without overdoing it.
  5. Healthier options at restaurants and convenience stores, for those times when you find yourself hungry and away from home.

By Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD