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.

 

Reader Requests MyPlate Window Clings And Here Is Our Design

We always love when a reader requests a special material. It is fun to get new ideas and to design them from start to finish.

One such project is a cling for a glass refrigerator door in a store. The idea is to show people how to make a healthy plate using a plate and the photos from each food group.

Erika wrote to us and asked for these clear background clings that will adhere to the outside of a glass door. They are 12″ by 12″ square and filled with the foods of each section. The food group colors are used along with ample amounts of white for a fresh clean look. We have them in the store here and can make them in any size upon request.

Plant Based Glossary

The Food Navigator has a great list of food trends for 2018. One thing is for sure. There are more choices for plant-based milks, dairy products,  and meat alternatives than ever before in the store. This trend is predicted to continue. Sales of plant-based foods are estimated to be around $3.1 billion dollars.

“Plant Based” is a great educational message for the new year, too.

Plant-based is just a new way to present most of the lessons from the US Dietary Guidelines. After all, MyPlate is 3/4 plants with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. And legumes are listed as both a vegetable and a protein.

Here is a handy glossary:

  • Plant based – A diet higher in plantbased foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in calories and animal-based foods is more health promoting according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
  • Whole foods – foods that are nearly in their original, whole state and have little processing; specifically they are not primarily filled with added sugar or fat or refined flour. For example, whole wheat cream of wheat is more whole than corn flakes or fruit charms. Whole wheat bread is more whole than muffins. Potatoes are more whole than potato chips. Apples are more whole than apple pop tarts. Whole foods have more fiber, fewer calories, less salt, sugar, and fat. So you get more nutrients and fiber, and fewer calories or fewer grams of artery-clogging fat or blood pressure-rising sodium. Unfortunately the trade off is that you get less convenience. But planning ahead and cooking at home and planning leftovers is a simple workaround that is better for your pocketbook and your health.
  • Non-dairy milk – a “milk-like beverage” made from a plant-based ingredient(s). Examples include almond milk, flax milk, and soy milk. There are also many others in this category with the newest being from peas (Rippl). The advantage to this type of milk is that it is not regulated by the FDA the same way dairy milk is and thus it can contain many beneficial additives such as more calcium or omega-3 fatty acids. You should still read the label to make sure that it is not a significant source of saturated fat, trans fat, or sugar. Coconut milk often contains a lot of saturated fat and flavored milk may contain a lot of sugar. Some of these milks do not contain any calcium so that is another item to check, too. Regular milk always contains about 30% of the daily value for calcium so try to stay close to that amount since dairy products are usually the most significant source of calcium in the modern diet. The benefits of this plant-based milk are that it is plant based, sweetly flavored, thicker than skim milk, and easier on the digestive system for most people. It is also an option for people who choose to be vegan or vegetarian.
  • Dietary Guidelines – a set of guidelines mandated by US law that provides an academic committee to review the most recent nutrition research and provide guidelines to Americans and their health care providers every five years.
  • MyPlate – the icon for a balanced diet from the USDA. It is based on the dietary guidelines and helps people balance their meals by providing a plate graphic with 5 proportional food group sections that include dairy, protein, fruits, vegetables, and grains.
  • Vegan – a person who does not consume any animal products or foods that contain them and who does not use any products that are the byproducts of animal slaughter
  • Vegetarian – a person who chooses not to eat any meat but who may or may not consume eggs or dairy
  • Flexitarian or semi-vegetarian – a person who is vegetarian but who might eat fish or poultry on occasion
  • Grains – the seeds of grasses that are produced for food; examples include oats, wheat, rice, barley, quinoa, teff, amaranth, and many more
  • Vegetables – The parts of herbaceous plants eaten as food by humans, whole or in part, are generally considered vegetables. This includes leaves, seeds, bulbs, stems, roots, flowers, and fruits.
  • Fruits – in botany, fruits are the seed-bearing structures of plants. In the culinary world they tend to be the sweet ones like oranges, apples, bananas, grapes, kiwis, melons, berries, peaches, pears, and more. The more savory fruits like tomatoes and avocados are used as vegetables in a kitchen.
  • Beans – seeds from a legume pod also called dried beans, legumes, or pulses are from flowering plants in the Leguminosae family. This includes the soybean, chickpea, bean, and pea, among others (Morris 365). Other lesser known members of the legume family include clover, licorice, lentils, and the peanut.
  • Aquafaba – the cooking liquid of beans and other legumes like chickpeas, which can be used to replace egg whites since it can be whipped. It is a mix of protein, starches, and other substances which leach into the water during the cooking process. FMI see aquafaba.com
  • Organic – food that is free of certain pesticides and fertilizers; using organic processes for sustainable farming.
  • Local – food that is grown and sold locally; retains biodiversity of food and diversity of local land plus keeps money in local economy
  • Conventional – food that is grown without organic certification
  • Meatless – meals made without meat, poultry, or fish
  • Meatless Monday – a tradition among vegetarians where Mondays feature meatless meals
  • Meat as flavoring component or garnish – a topic and general tenet of plant-based diets where meat becomes a flavoring agent or garnish instead of being the main entree on the plate.

 

Plates Have Arrived for 2018

The new plates are here!

Portion control – while MyPlate is a fascinating and effective way to teach food groups and a balanced diet some people want a lesson that is more geared to portion control and weight loss. The new portion control plates were designed to follow the principle of using food groups so that the right sized portion of protein is used and half the plate is fruits and vegetables or vegetables. An emphasis on whole grains is used. PLUS there are reminders about beverages and physical activity. We used warm colors in an elegant design that will make everyone feel special and enlightened.

Compartment plate – this plate is flying off of our shelves and everyone tells us they love having a compartment plate so that each group has its own measured space.

Diabetes – we had a leading diabetes educator dietitian help us with the strategy for this plate. The idea is to provide a real line about how much of each food to put on the plate and to make half the plate non-starchy vegetables. One quarter of the plate is starch and the other quarter is lean protein. The design is meant to be very elegant so the patient does not feel like they are getting some alarming or degrading lecture.

Of course we still have our custom designed MyPlate Plate, too.

Check them out – and see the special early 2018 pricing that won’t last long. The 50 packs are an excellent deal and their price includes shipping to the 48 states.

 

Holiday MyPlate

As a special holiday bonus, I want to offer you the wonderful MyPlate handout that accompanies the Holiday MyPlate poster. If you like what you see, it’s not too late to pick up some last minute-holiday resources in the Nutrition Education Store — now’s the perfect time to prepare for those New Year’s resolutions…

Holiday times are here! This means a lot more activity and disruption to regular meal and exercise patterns. The good news is that you can remember MyPlate’s most important message to lower calories and eat healthier! Make half your plate fruits and veggies.

Here is how to adopt that message during the crazy holiday rush:

#1. Fill appetizer plates halfway with vegetables.

Look at the savings:

Plate 1: 546 calories

  • 4 mini quiche: 240
  • 2 slices cheddar cheese: 226
  • 5 crackers: 80 calories

Plate 2: 145 calories

  • 1 cup carrots and celery 25
  • 2 mini quiche: 120

Visualize a plate before you eat snacks (and bring your snacks!).

Are you zooming through the mall and tempted by large pretzels, cookies, and cinnamon rolls? They smell great and offer holiday spirit except they are really bad news for your waist. We have become oblivious to lare sizes because they are everywhere. Picture that item on a dinner plate. Does a cinnamon roll or pretzel likely take up a whole plate? That is too much! Bring an apple in your bag or choose a healthier item from the food court.

#2. Fill dessert plates halfway with fruit.

Instead of filling up your plate with pie, cake, brownies, and cookies, fill it up with fruit and leave room for a small slice or piece of one favorite treat.

Consider the savings:

Plate 1: 900 calories

  • Pecan pie slice: 500
  • 1 butter cookie: 200
  • Peppermint brownie: 200

Plate 2: 145 calories

  • 1 cup fresh fruit: 90
  • 1 cookie or 1/2 of a pie slice: 200 calories

Hint: bring a beautiful fresh fruit salad or bowl of fruit so you can have this option.

#3. Make a healthy plate for lunch and dinner.

No matter where you eat, using the MyPlate method of portion control can help you lower calories.

  • 1 big bowl of pasta with meatballs: 900 calories
  • MyPlate method: 1/4 pasta, 1/4 meatball, and 1/2 veggies = 400 calories

Make MyPlate at home, when you eat out, and when you are a guest somewhere else. It works in the cafeteria, the food court, the drive through and office parties!

#4. Eat a healthy snack plate with fruits and veggies before going to a party.

Okay so we realize it is not always easy to eat MyPlate at someone else’s house or the office party. So here is one more strategy. Eat your MyPlate fruits and veggies before you go out. Eat a small salad and a piece of fruit — that way when you go somewhere you can have a smaller serving of what they are offering and you won’t arrive starved only to fill up on a whole plate of fried chicken or fatty roast beef and fritters.

Will this be helpful for you or your clients? If so, don’t miss the free PDF handout available below. Normally it’s exclusive for people who buy the Holiday MyPlate poster, but I want to make an exception today…

Holiday MyPlate

Key Messages from MyPlate

It’s time for another sneak peek, this time into the Food and Health Online Classes!

Today’s sneak peek comes from the increasingly popular MyPlate for Educators Course. After you’ve finished this 2-hour CPE class, you will be able to…

  1. Discuss the history of MyPlate and its connection to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
  2. Understand the foods and food groups that make up MyPlate, along with the food elements that should be reduced/consumed in moderation.
  3. Articulate MyPlate’s advice about portions and proportions.
  4. Know the serving sizes for each food group as recommended for different ages, sexes, and activity levels.
  5. Explore and provide makeovers to dishes in order to bring them into alignment with MyPlate.
  6. Discuss shifts in eating patterns that will bring about a healthier eating style.
  7. Understand the health impact associated with a variety of foods in each food group.
  8. Successfully navigate the MyPlate website and know where to look for further resources.

In this little preview, you’ll get a glimpse of a few key messages from MyPlate.

Are you ready? Here we go!

One of the themes that you will see over and over in MyPlate’s educational materials is the importance of variety. Yes, there are 5 main food groups, but there are lots of different foods in each one. Just because the proportions don’t change doesn’t mean that the content shouldn’t. Be sure to keep the choices nutrient dense and in reasonable portions and you’ll be building a healthy plate.

Another key to MyPlate is bringing all the pieces together to form a healthy eating style. This means choosing proper portions of nutritious foods in enough variety to meet your nutrient needs. A healthy eating style is also low in sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars.

Why?

Well, according to the USDA, “Eating fewer calories from foods high in saturated fat and added sugars can help you manage your calories and prevent overweight and obesity. Most of us eat too many foods that are high in saturated fat and added sugar. Eating foods with less sodium can reduce your risk of high blood pressure.” Plus, these empty calories and sodium have been linked to an increased risk of chronic disease.

Yet another key message from MyPlate is the importance of making small shifts in order to create a healthier eating style. This is very closely in line with the recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as are most of MyPlate’s messages.

You don’t have to upend all your eating habits in order to start building a healthy eating pattern. Instead, make small changes that you know you can sustain over time and build from there.

This presentation goes on for a total of 45 slides, but I think we need to stop here. I hope you liked the sneak peek! For more great information about MyPlate, check out the MyPlate for Educators Course.

And here are some other MyPlate resources that I thought you might enjoy!