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.

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?

Nutrition Facts for Everyone

The Nutrition Facts label is a valuable tool, but many people don’t use it. Maybe they’re in a hurry and don’t take time to read it. Or maybe they see a bunch of numbers and unfamiliar terms and turn the package right back over.

Tufts Researchers estimate that the new food label, showing added sugars, could save up to $31 billion dollars in health care expenses over 20 years. The amount saved for societal costs is about double that amount.

Our Food Label theme has lots of options for helping your clients make sense of the Nutrition Facts panel. A good place to start – our simple Food Label handouts, poster, and banner. This version breaks it all down to the basics, making the Nutrition Facts label easier for everyone to understand and use.

Take a look at our simple Food Label Handout Tearpad. One side has an easy-to-read Nutrition Facts panel with three basic tips on how to read it:

  • Step 1 is to Count Calories – check the serving size, calories per serving, and number of servings per package.
  • Step 2 is to Check These for Heart Health – choose foods that are lower in saturated fat and sodium; keep trans fat to zero.
  • Step 3 is to ask Is This Nutritionally Valuable? – select foods that are nutrient dense and a good source of fiber.

The other side is a very handy MyPlate Healthy Shopping List featuring healthy choices:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Lean protein
  • Whole grains
  • Low fat and low sugar dairy products
  • Other foods (like condiments and seasonings)

As you are shopping, why not create a small bookshelf of interesting packages that have good lessons? Some examples include bottles of beverages that look like one serving but are 3. Or healthful sounding rice mix packages that have a full day’s supply of sodium in a small 160 calorie serving. Or the soup that says reduced sodium that is still high in sodium for the calories it contains? And of course there is the “all natural food” that is filled with saturated fat. I am sure you have a lot of examples. These can make great ice breakers for classes, counseling sessions, and health fairs. And it can make for a fun, find the best label contest if you offer a variety of choices for the same food like a tomato soup or can of beans or packages of frozen entrees.

These handouts are the perfect start to learning to shop for healthier food. If you want a more in-depth approach, check out our Food Label Math banner, poster, and tearpad.

By Hollis Bass, MEd, RD

Get 15% off all food label education items this week only by using this link.

References:

  1. https://now.tufts.edu/news-releases/fda-added-sugar-label-could-be-cost-effective-way-improve-health-generate-savings
  2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141104141731.htm

MyPlate Goes Anywhere

Did you know that 90 percent of adults don’t eat the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables?* Maybe if we saw MyPlate billboards as often as we see signs for fast food or soda, this number wouldn’t be so high. Since that’s not going to happen, it’s up to us to plant the MyPlate image into everyone’s minds.

The MyPlate Start Simple poster is a great discussion-starter for helping people find simple ways to fill half of their plate with fruits and veggies, whether they’re eating at home, at a restaurant, at work, or at school.

  • At home – this should be the easiest because you’re in charge. Keep lots of fruits and veggies on hand to fill up half of your plate. Bags of pre-washed baby spinach and spring mix make it easy to fix a salad every day. Stock your freezer with a variety of frozen vegetables to steam, microwave, or roast in the oven.
  • At restaurants – you don’t have as much control, but checking out the menu online ahead of time can help. Look for vegetable sides and order an extra serving. If you’re getting subs or burritos, visually deconstruct them to see how they would look on a plate, then decide if you need to add an extra veggie or fruit, choose a salad instead of sandwich, or go easy on the rice.
  • Packing lunch – keep that plate in mind as you put your lunch together. Pile all the veggies you can onto sandwiches. Add sides of raw veggies like baby carrots and cherry tomatoes, and a piece of fruit. Or pack lunch the easy way – leftovers from a MyPlate-friendly dinner make the perfect MyPlate lunch.

*Source: CDC (read more here).

Use this link to get 15% off all MyPlate Teaching Resources – this week only! Good through April 13, 2019

Two Tools to Keep it Simple

Your clients are busy. They hear conflicting nutrition advice every day. When it’s time to shop for food, they’re overwhelmed by thousands of choices at the supermarket. But we know healthy eating doesn’t have to be so complicated. That’s why we’re excited about the new MyPlate campaign and theme coming in 2020 with the new Dietary Guidelines – Start Simple with MyPlate.

Keeping things simple is what we had in mind when we created our new Two Tools poster. Healthy eating is simple when you use the Dynamic Duo of MyPlate and the Nutrition Facts label.

Here are five lessons taught by the Two Tools: MyPlate and Nutrition Facts Label poster:

  1. Use MyPlate as a guide when shopping for food and you’ll take home the building blocks for healthy meals.
  2. You know you’re on the right track when half of your shopping cart is filled with fruits and vegetables and half is filled with whole grains and lean protein. And don’t forget some low-fat dairy!
  3. Beware of misleading claims on the front of food packages.
  4. Check the Nutrition Facts label for the information you need to make the healthy choice. Look at calories, portion size, saturated fat, sodium, added sugars, and fiber.
  5. With MyPlate and the Nutrition Facts label, it’s simple to build a more balanced eating pattern that will promote good health.

 

It’s Time to Change It Up!

We’re constantly bombarded with images of fast food, junk food, and processed food. Marketers know what they’re doing by getting these pictures into our subconscious minds. Well, let’s fight back! It’s time to Change It Up!

Our Change It Up theme features a gorgeous butterfly made up of real photos of fruit. Now, this is an image we want in our clients’ minds! The message is simple but impactful – transform your life with healthy food and regular physical activity. Go from a fast-food caterpillar to a healthy butterfly.

Our poster and banners come with the free Change It Up printable handout. One side provides general tips on changing up your diet (MyPlate, portion sizes, and fruits and vegetables) and every day activity. The other side offers more detailed suggestions for transforming your meals, snacks, and exercise routine.

How can you use the Change It Up materials in different settings? Glad you asked!

  • Display the banner or poster in the cafeteria, a hallway, or waiting room. (We also have a salad bar sign!) When people see the beautiful, colorful, fruit-filled butterfly every day, they’re bound to think more about healthy food.
  • Give out the stickers and bookmarks so people can take the picture and the message with them.
  • Set up a Change It Up table in the cafeteria or at a health fair. Engage visitors with questions: Are you more like the butterfly or the caterpillar? What changes can you make to transform yourself into the butterfly? Give away the Change It Up handout, stickers, and bookmarks.
  • Teach a Change It Up class. Depending on your audience, here are two lessons:
    • Focus on how small shifts in eating and activity will make everyone feel transformed.
    • Go with the caterpillar to butterfly theme. How does the image of the butterfly make you feel? How about the caterpillar? When you eat healthy food and are active, which one do you feel like? How can a healthy diet and regular exercise make you feel transformed?

Here is a handout called, 9 ways to make easy and healthy switches for a better diet and exercise plan: 9 Easy Healthy Switches Handout

Back to basics with the Food Diary Tearpad

Keeping a food diary is a great way for clients to become aware of what, when, and how much they eat. There are plenty of apps for online tracking, but sometimes technology makes this simple task too complicated. Get back to the basics with our Food Diary Tearpad!

The Food Diary Tearpad is user-friendly and self-explanatory, making it perfect for health fairs or classes where you’re unable to provide in-depth individual attention. People can write down what they eat in a day, then use the checklist of MyPlate recommendations to “grade” themselves. There’s also space to check off water intake, exercise, movement (cleaning, chores, playing), sleep, and screen time. That’s a lot of information collected on one page!

Lessons to use with the Food Diary Tearpad:

  • Tracking food intake makes you more aware of the choices you’re making. This awareness helps you make better choices.
  • Knowing you have to write down what you’re about to eat is often enough to keep you from over-indulging. If you don’t want to see it on paper, you might decide not to eat it!
  • You can’t change what you don’t track. Whether it’s screen time, drinking enough water, or eating more vegetables, keeping track lets you compare what you are doing with what you want to do.
  • People use food diaries differently, and that’s ok. Some simply want to jot down the foods they eat to get a general view of food groups they are missing or overeating. Others are more detail-oriented and can learn even more by recording portion sizes, time, place, and calories.
  • Compare your food diary to your individualized MyPlate Plan, which you can get at ChooseMyPlate.gov/MyPlatePlan. How are you doing on calories? Portion sizes?
  • Look at when and where you eat each meal and snack. Do you eat most meals away from home? Do you skip meals during the day then snack all evening? How long do you usually go between meals?
  • Get a handle on emotional eating by writing down how you feel whenever you eat.
  • Keeping a daily food diary helps people lose weight. But even using our Food Diary for just one day provides a lot of information on your diet and lifestyle. Use this to choose a goal to work on.

Skip the supplements, eat real food!

Americans spend $41.2 billion a year on dietary supplements. The multivitamin/mineral is most popular, taken by one-third of adults and nearly one-quarter of children (1). But we know that most people can get the nutrients they need from real food!

Besides wasting money, supplements can give people a false sense of security. Sure, one pill may provide 100 percent of the Daily Value for a long list of vitamins and minerals, but what about fiber, phytonutrients, healthy fats, and protein? And no supplement makes up for a high fat, high sugar diet.

We have two posters to help you get this point across to adults and children.

The Eat Your Vitamins poster shows the nutrients provided by each food group, making it clear that a varied diet means no supplement required! Activities based on this beautiful poster:

  • Use the vegetable sub-categories on the poster to discuss the importance of eating a wide variety of veggies. Which sub-category provides the most vitamins? The most minerals? What vegetables do you regularly eat? Are you getting some from each sub-category?
  • In a group setting, use the PDF handout “What’s in YOUR Food?” that comes with the poster. Assign each person or small group one or two nutrients. Have them explain to the class: 1) the function of the nutrient; 2) which food groups provide the nutrient; 3) examples of foods in the food group(s).
  • Ask who takes a multivitamin/mineral daily. Why do you take it? What’s in it? Looking at the poster, which nutrients are in food but not in the supplement? Talk about the benefits of eating real food.

Our Make New Friends Food Groups poster is a fun way to teach kids how to build a healthy lunch that provides the nutrients (or friends!) they need AND meets federal school lunch guidelines. Of course, fruits and veggies are their best friends, so why not have both at every lunch? Activities to go with this poster:

  • Ask kids to identify the “new friends” pictured on the poster. What food group does each “friend” represent? What other foods are in that food group? Use the “My Plate Strategy Guide” PDF that comes with the poster to discuss the food groups in more detail.
  • Have kids write down what they had for lunch. Ask them to write the name of the food group next to each item they ate. How many food groups did you eat from? Was there a fruit, a veggie, or both? If you didn’t eat from at least three food groups, how could you change it?
  • Talk about how some people take a multivitamin/mineral supplement every day, but most of us can get the nutrients we need from real food. What would you miss if you only took a pill, but didn’t eat real food? Does it sound like more fun to “make new friends” with the food groups?

(1) J Acad Nutr Diet. 2018;118(11):2162-2173.

Activity Idea: Making MyPlate Plates

MyPlate is an excellent tool to encourage balanced eating.

For visual learners, having an image of MyPlate is a great starting point on the road to healthful eating habits. You can take this image even farther in an interactive project. Not only will this project help cement the basics of MyPlate in the minds of your visual learners, but it will also draw in your kinetic learners as well. Almost everyone can benefit from learning by doing!

So, what’s the project? Making a physical MyPlate plate.

There are a bunch of ways to approach this, but I want to point you toward a few of my favorite styles…

Color a Paper PlateApproach #1: Color a Paper Plate

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Display an image of MyPlate and walk your clients through the basics of how and why the plate is divided. After that, you can distribute paper plates to each of your participants and let them create their own MyPlate plates with crayons or markers. They can draw their designs right on the plate!

Be sure to choose crayons or markers that are safe for kids — these won’t have harmful chemicals that could be dangerous to ingest. Not that a lot of anything would transfer from the plate to the food placed on it, but it’s best to play it safe.

If you’re distributing food as part of the activity, have people use their plates to portion out what they eat. They may want to make several MyPlate plates so that they can use the guide a few times. After all, paper plates don’t last past one meal.

Materials needed: A MyPlate image example, paper plates, and markers or crayons

Use the Plates Again and AgainApproach #2: Create Melamine Plates

To help your clients make MyPlate plates that they can use again and again, create melamine plates. These plates are embedded with the images that people draw, and they’re reusable. In fact, they can be treated just like regular plates — without fear of flaking, fading, or general destruction.

To create these plates, you’ll need a Make-A-Plate Kit with specialized markers. Hand out the plate papers from the kit to your clients after your discussion of MyPlate, and then let them use the markers to create their own MyPlate images.

This is a relatively inexpensive project that produces long-lasting results.

There is one thing to be aware of, however, and that is production delays. It often takes 2-3 weeks to return the MyPlate drawings as physical plates, so be sure to plan for this holdup.

Materials needed: A MyPlate image example, melamine plate kits, melamine plate markers, materials for shipping the plates

Approach #3: Paint Pottery Plates

For more immediate results and a long-lasting plate, there’s always painting pottery. Yes, this is a generally more expensive and involved approach than the other two, but it also often produces beautiful results. You can turn the project into a festive outing or party, and it makes a great end-of-session finale.

Hanging a MyPlate poster or enlarged drawing in the studio can help inspire your participants as they work. It also offers a great example to guide their painting.

Materials needed: MyPlate image example, a pottery studio, potted plates, paints and brushes

Try Word ArtDetails: Creating the Plates

Now that we’ve discussed a few general ways for your clients to make their own MyPlate plates, let’s get into the specifics of plate creation.

Make sure that there is an image of MyPlate available for your participants to look at as they create their plates. After all, the goal is to have an accurate guide to balanced eating available for their reference. A MyPlate with the wrong proportions on it is not helpful.

Now, when it comes to drawing the plate within the guidelines set forth by the USDA, there is plenty of room for innovation.

Yes, clients could copy the MyPlate image exactly “as is” from the USDA website, but they could also innovate when it comes to decorating the plates. For example, some participants could use pictures to highlight what goes in each section, drawing images of their favorite foods from each food group. Or each section of MyPlate could become a word cloud (as pictured here). This word cloud can also feature the foods that fit into each food group.

The possibilities are endless!

Examples, Giveaways, Prizes, Shortcuts, or Take-Home Ideas for Clients

Of course, if you’re looking for examples, giveaways, prizes, shortcuts, or take-home ideas for clients, then you need look no further than the Nutrition Education Store. At the store, you can purchase…

These are wonderful examples that people can pass around while they create their own MyPlate plates. The plates also make perfect prizes for giveaways and can be distributed as take-home ideas for clients. Plus, if you don’t have the time, budget, or resources to have participants make their own plates, these plates offer a fantastic shortcut.

So. There you have it. A bunch of ideas for a great MyPlate project. Enjoy!

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

There’s always more in the store. Check out these fantastic MyPlate resources!

MyPlate Poster

MyPlate Wristbands

MyPlate PowerPoint Presentation

MyPlate Handout for Kids

MyPlate Apron

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.