Are Your Holidays Healthful? A Quiz

Do you keep your holiday celebrations good for your health? Find out with this brand-new quiz!

Questions:

Dancing at a Party1. What is the most featured item in the display of foods at your holiday party?

a) Cookies
b) Meats
c) Fruits and vegetables
d) Cheeses

2. True or false? I make sure to get at least some physical activity during most days of the week.

3. Some smart ways to control portion size at meals include…

a) Making a healthy plate.
b) Sharing a meal
c) Being aware of the calorie content of the foods you purchase.
d) All of the above

4. True or false? I make sure to eat a healthful high-fiber breakfast every morning.

Answers:

Holiday Platter1. c) Fruits and vegetables
For the most healthful holiday celebration, make fruits and vegetables the start of any buffet you set up. You can keep things simple with crudités and some yogurt-based dips, or you can get fancy and roast up your favorite vegetables and serve them on a platter, drizzled with a little bit of sauce and garnished with parsley. Add bowls of berries and sliced fruit too!

2. True
To stay healthy during the holidays, it’s wise to sneak in a little physical activity whenever you can, even though things are busy. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, “Being physically active is one of the most important steps that Americans of all ages can take to improve their health.”

Check the Label3. d) All of the above
If you’re having a holiday gathering at a restaurant or coffee shop, check out any nutrition information that’s available online. Make sure that the portion size of what you want to order is reasonable. If it’s not, look for alternatives. Then, if you want to get or make something that only comes in a large portion, share it with a friend or family member. Finally, if you’re picking up a treat for a holiday gathering, check the labels! Use the Nutrition Facts to calculate serving size, nutrient content, and much more! Making a healthy plate will help you put your foods in the right proportions, too.

4. True
Starting your day off with a balanced and high-fiber breakfast is a smart way to stay healthy this holiday season. After all, breakfast is associated with a lower BMI, fewer calories consumed during the day, and a better diet. Plus, a healthful breakfast not only gives you energy, but also increases cognitive function. Some ideas include high-fiber cereal with nonfat milk, and fruit, or lowfat yogurt and fruit, or egg whites and fruit. A smoothie made with fruit and skim milk is also a great start.

How did you do? Do you know the nuts and bolts of staying healthy during the holidays?

MyPlate Meal Makeover Handout

Check out this amazing MyPlate meal makeover! I originally kept this handout as an exclusive part of the soon-to-be-released My Plate activity book, but my resolve has crumbled and I can’t wait to share it with you today! If you like what you see, be sure to keep an eye out for the free printable MyPlate handout at the bottom of the post…

Meal Makeover: Use MyPlate to Rearrange This Plate of Fried Chicken

MyPlate Meal MakeoverRevise Fried Chicken:

A typical plate filled with fried chicken and macaroni and cheese weighs in at over 850 calories! That’s way too huge for a single meal. Plus, the plate is full of solid fats and processed grains, with very few nutrients in sight. This is where MyPlate comes in handy. Use MyPlate to rebalance the plate and make the meal more nutritious!

Since filling half the plate with fruits and vegetables is key to MyPlate, start there, replacing half of the chicken and macaroni with steamed corn and green beans. Then keep protein to a quarter of the plate, choosing white meat to cut down on saturated fat. This leaves the dairy and grain groups, which are represented by the macaroni and cheese. Look at the new plate! It’s got only 333 calories, and it looks just as full as the other plate!

Dinner Meal Makeover Details:

Using MyPlate to make over this meal saves you 517 calories!

This new meal is far higher in nutrients, especially fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It’s also lower in empty calories than the first plate.

You could make this meal even better by replacing the refined grain macaroni with a whole grain pasta like whole wheat pasta or quinoa pasta. If you replaced the full-fat cheese with low-fat cheese, you’d take the improvements even further!

The green beans add 30% of your daily value (DV) of vitamin C and 20% of your DV of vitamin K.

The corn adds 17% of your DV of fiber and 21% of your DV of thiamin.

Like what you see? Here’s a free (and printable!) My Plate handout:

MyPlate Meal Makeover

And don’t miss these other engaging MyPlate materials from the Nutrition Education Store!

MyPlate Coloring Book

MyPlate DVD

MyPlate Floor Sticker

Doggy Bag Safety

I love “doggy bags.”

We don’t have a dog and most of the time those leftovers are for me.

With the size of many restaurant portions these days, it’s only wise to bring part of your food home for another meal… or possibly two. Whether you’re really taking the food home for the dog or yourself, it’s also important to keep it safe.

That’s where the “two hour rule” comes in.

Doggy Bag

Perishable food left at room temperature for more than two hours may become unsafe to eat. Remember, it becomes the “one hour rule” when temperatures are hotter than 90 degrees outside. Think about how hot the inside of a car can get. Bacteria grow very quickly at these temperatures.

If you’re planning on a movie or a little shopping after dinner, then it’s not safe to leave the food to sit in the car for that extra time. Bring a cooler with ice if you know you’re probably going to get a doggy bag… that’s a good thought whether you’re going straight home or not.

Once you get that doggy bag safely home, think about rewrapping those leftovers and putting them in the refrigerator as soon as possible. Those little foam boxes aren’t airtight and don’t do a great job of keeping the food moist and fresh.

The storage temperature of the leftovers is another key thing to think about. Refrigerators should be kept at 41 degrees or below.

I was recently impressed when my container of restaurant leftovers came with food safety instructions. I think this was smart of them, wanting to keep their customers safe. This container was also sealed a little tigher than most.  As well as not spilling in the car on the way home, it helped to keep odors from other foods in the refrigerator from co-mingling with my leftover pasta. Their instructions for keeping the food safe were even a little more strict than I usually go by. But, less can be better in this instance.

Storage Instructions

Refrigerated food doesn’t keep forever. If you dine out a lot, then those little  containers tend to multiply uneaten in the refrigerator. The best recommendation is to plan on eating those leftovers within three to four days of bringing them home. Remember that you can’t always see, taste, or smell the bacteria in food that may make you sick.

For safety’s sake, leftover food should be heated thoroughly before eating.

This means to heat it to 165 degrees F. The only way to make sure you’re doing that is to use a food thermometer. When heating in a microwave, stir during cooking and allow some standing time for the temperatures to unify.

While it may seem wasteful, keep in mind the old saying: “when in doubt… throw it out!” Wasting a little food is not worth the risk of a foodborne illness. If you can’t keep the food safe, then you may as well leave it in the restaurant in the first place.

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University

Using a Doggy Bag for Calorie Savings:

Provided that you keep your doggy bag food safe, you can save some serious calories by cutting your restaurant entree in half.

Here are some examples:

  • The Lasagna Classico at Olive Garden weighs in at 930 calories per plate, with 470 of those calories coming from fat. If you split the meal and saved half for a different day, storing the rest in a doggie bag for later, then you would only consume 465 calories in the restaurant, which is a much more reasonable portion than the original.
  • The Ultimate Bacon Burger at Chili’s is another contender for the doggie bag approach. If you split the burger in half and save half for another meal, you’ll save 515 calories! Now if you ate the whole thing, the grand total for this meal (without fries!) would be 1030 calories. Do you see how a doggie bag can make a huge difference in portion control?
  • An All-American Slam breakfast at Denny’s has 990 calories per plate. If you only ate half, you’d bring the portion size down to a much more reasonable 495 calories.

If you were to make all 3 of these changes, you would save 1,475 calories over the course of those meals!

Plus, by putting the rest of a given meal in a doggy bag and following food-safe methods, you will have a whole other meal at your disposal. This in turn makes your restaurant choices stretch farther on a budget.

Here are some additional portion control resources…

And here’s a doggy bag safety handout, just for you!

Food Safety When Taking Restaurant Meals Home: A Handout

DoggieBagFoodSafety

Portion Control Activity Ideas

Portion control is often key to maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the risk of chronic disease.

We’ve all heard about the many benefits of a healthful eating pattern that incorporates proper portion control.

Making portion control something that is accessible and appealing to your clients, on the other hand, can be more of a challenge.

That’s why my team and I created these beautiful portion control plates!

Portion Control Plate

We designed these plates to help consumers stay on track when it comes to maintaining a healthful diet, practicing portion control, getting regular exercise, and staying hydrated.

By using this plate to dish up their meals, people can save up to 60% of their daily calories per meal (compared to just loading a plate by eye like most people do). This plate keeps foods in the proper proportions and portion sizes, as recommended by MyPlate.

The inside of the plate guides people to balancing their plates with:

  • 3 ounces of lean protein
  • 1/2 cup of cooked grains
  • 1 cup of vegetables
  • 1 cup of fruits

Meanwhile, the rim of the plate is full of reminders to sip the right kind of beverage and get moving from time to time!

The beautiful color pattern of the plates makes them attractive for home, picnics, the office, and parties. Plus, they work beautifully in wellness fairs, cooking demos, classrooms, and one-on-one consultations.

Load up that plate

To celebrate the release of these wonderful nutrition education materials, I want to share two activities that you can do with these plates today!

Activity #1: Fill the Portion Plate

What you’ll need:

  • Enough portion control plates for everyone
  • Magazines
  • Scissors

What you’ll do:

  1. Assemble your group, pass out the plates, and make sure everyone has access to scissors and magazines. Explain that they are going to cut out pictures of food and then sort them into the appropriate areas of the portion control plate.
  2. Offer your participants some time to cut out their selections, then explain the next part of the activity.
  3. Pick a food group and call it out. The participants must find a food that fits into that group (from their collection of magazine images) and place it on the correct section of the plate, holding up both the picture and the plate so that you can see it. Award points for speed and accuracy, correcting any misconceptions that may crop up.
  4. After the game is over, you discuss the results and let the class go or add a twist. For the latter, see who can find the healthiest food to fit in a food group the fastest. Discuss. What makes each food a good fit for its food group? What nutrients does it contain? How much saturated fat, added sugars, or sodium is in the food?

Portion Control Planning:

What you’ll need:

  • 1 portion control plate per person
  • Paper
  • Pens or pencils

What you’ll do:

  1. Pass out the plates to each participant. Give everyone pens and pieces of paper too.
  2. Have everyone examine the food groups on the plate. What are the portion sizes like? How do the proportions work? Discuss what they notice.
  3. Have people list the days of the week across the tops of their papers. Using the plates, have them plan meals that would fill the plates in the proper portions for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on each day of the week.
  4. Once everyone has their ideas mapped out, ask for volunteers to share their plans. What inspired them? Why? Which ideas are the best for a healthful eating pattern? What makes them healthful?
  5. Once your discussion is finished, let your participants keep their plates, and, if you’ll see them again, check in on their progress. Do they like using these new plates? Why or why not?

I hope you liked this resource spotlight!

Here are some other great portion control materials — which will make your life easier?

Display of the Month: Portion Control

Portion Control Table
The Nutrition Education Store Display of the Month fun continues this month with a spotlight on portion control!

Portion control is vital, and so many of my health educator friends say that it is near and dear to their hearts. Proper portion control can have far-reaching health effects, but it’s tougher than it appears at first glance. With all the oversized portions crowding coffee shop displays and restaurant plates, how are people even supposed to know what a healthful portion looks like?

That’s where a Portion Control Display comes in.

I’ve studied and studied the resources at my disposal, and I think the following plan would make a great portion control display for your next event…

The Materials:

The Activities:

  • Walk everyone through some meal and snack transformations.
  • Strategize about ways to scale down portions.

Portion Control TableLet’s talk details!

Set up your display area with a table. Top it with a tablecloth if you have one. Put the easel on the table, then place the Scale Down Your Portions poster on top of the easel and make sure that it’s easy to see. Place the Take Control of Your Portions banner on its stand in a highly-visible spot next to your table. Fan out a few Portion Control brochures near the front of your table, where they’ll be easier to grab. At another free area in the front of your table, arrange some MyPlate Temporary Tattoos and some Salad Temporary Tattoos. These will serve as prizes for the activities.

And speaking of activities, here’s what you’ll need to do.

For the meal transformation section, use a bit of blue painter’s tape and some plain white paper to cover the “made over” meals on the Take Control of Your Portions banner. Review the number of calories in the large value meal featured on the poster. Is this a healthful meal? Why or why not? Ask volunteers to brainstorm ways to “make over” the meal to make it more balanced and less calorically-dense. Offer temporary tattoos to anyone who shares a good answer. Remove the painter’s tape and paper from the “made over” meal on the banner. How does this one differ from the first meal? How can it be replicated in real life? Repeat the process with the chip and muffin images on the banner.

The second activity is more free form.

Have some volunteers share a few foods with which they have trouble controlling portions. Brainstorm as a group — what’s a good way to bring the portions back under control? You can also share strategies from some of the many portion control blog posts we’ve written over the years — here are a few of the current favorites…

And there you have it! Another fun display idea for the the Nutrition Education Store Display of the Month series.

And here are a few more display resources from the Nutrition Education Store. Which ones will make your life easier?

Display Kit: Color Your World with Food

Display Kit: Take 10K Steps Each Day

Display Kit: Make Your Salad a Rainbow

PS Here’s a free PDF handout (from the blog post 3 Ways to Improve Portion Control) that you can also use in your display…

New Portion Control Ideas

Scale Down Your Portions

Scale Down Your PortionsIt’s time for a dispatch from inside the Nutrition Education Store! Today I want to share a handout that — until right now — was only available to people who had purchased the Scale Down Your Portions poster. So here it is, in all its glory. How will you use your free copy?

Scale Down Your Portions!

How can you deal with oversized servings?

It can be hard to stop eating when there is a ton of delicious food to enjoy. A common answer to this problem is to ignore the rest of the food and only eat proper portions of each item. Sadly, that’s easier said than done.

Studies indicate that when people are offered larger portions of food, they tend to eat more of it. In one study, participants ate 30% more calories when offered the largest portion of an entrée, compared to what they ate when they were offered the smallest portion (Am J Clin Nutr 2002; 76(6): 1207-1213). When there is lots of food on your plate, it can skew your perception of what you’ve eaten and make it hard to stop eating.

It turns out that the best way to deal with portions is to scale them down. There are a bunch of different ways to scale down your portions — which will you try first?

Scale Down Tip #1: Read the Facts!

The Nutrition Facts labels on foods are treasure troves of information. You may be surprised at what constitutes a single serving, especially in things like bottled sodas and bags of chips. Get familiar with actual serving sizes and use the Nutrition Facts to calculate how many servings are in each container. When you can, pick up single-serving packs or use the Nutrition Facts label as a guide and make your own snack packs by portioning out proper servings into zip-lock bags and reusable bottles.

Scale Down Tip #2: Get Online!

Lots of restaurants and coffee shops have made their nutrition information available online. Check out the calorie, sodium, and fat content of your order before you head out the door and make sure that the portion size is reasonable. If it’s not, look for healthful alternatives. This will help you find balanced portions and skip servings that are way too big.

Scale Down Tip #3: Share!

If you want to get or make something that only comes in a large portion, share it! Whether you’re at a restaurant or a backyard barbecue, it can be easier than you think to share a large portion of food. And, after all, sharing is caring.

Scale Down Tip #4: Think Before You Drink!

Beverages with added sugar or fat need special attention when it comes to portion control. We found that small bottles of soda, tea, and juice drinks still contained more than 2 servings per bottle. So follow the first few tips and research exactly what is in that beverage that you’re about to enjoy. Then think twice before getting a jumbo size.

What do you think? If you like what you see, get your very own PDF copy of the Scale Down Your Portions handout, for free!

Scale Down Your Portions

And here are some more portion resources from the Nutrition Education Store! Remember, we’re here to help you look your very best, right now!

Take Control of Your Portions Poster

Eat Less! Portion Control DVD

Portion Control Handout

 

Free Handout and a New Food and Health Catalog

Have you seen the latest and greatest nutrition education catalog? Because if you haven’t, then it’s high time that you did.

Check out the new materials!This catalog has it all — posters, handouts, PowerPoints, display kits, brochures, tearpads, bookmarks, recipe cards, cookbooks, DVDs, cooking demo supplies… you name it, we’ve got it (or we’ll make it for you).

We know you’re busy. And we know you want the best materials. And we made all this with you in mind.

The nutrition program catalog has lots of special features and deals that you won’t find anywhere else. Each copy includes a brand-new, never-before-seen free portion control handout, just for you. You can email it to your clients, pass out copies at your next presentation, or make it a part of your Nutrition Month bulletin board. It’s jam-packed with great ideas from Beth Rosen, MS, RDN.

Get it now.

But wait, there’s more! The 2014 Nutrition Education Store Catalog also includes a code for 10% off your next order. And, with that same code, all your shipping is free. There are value offers in this catalog that you simply won’t find anywhere else.

And did we mention the amazing new products? There are over 50 new items for 2014! Whatever you need to put together a compelling and fun nutrition education program, we’ve got in this catalog. So check out these incredible health ed materials, and choose your favorites today!

The Clean Plate Club: Then and Now

Did you know that the idea of cleaning your plate first became popular during World War One? When foods like flour, sugar, and meat were growing scarce, Congress passed the Food and Fuel Act, which allowed the president to change how food was purchased, imported/exported, and distributed. It was coupled with a call to Americans, asking them to make the most of the foods that they did have, cutting back on food waste to ensure that their resources didn’t get squandered.

The request  to clean a plate and consume the foods that were available was presented as an act of patriotism that volunteers would undertake in order to make a difference in the war effort. It had a huge impact on the American public at the time. Schoolchildren even signed the following pledge…

“At table I’ll not leave a scrap of food upon my plate. And I’ll not eat between meals But for supper time I’ll wait” (Source).

Image from http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/sow-seeds/images/eat-more-corn.gif

Image from http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/sow-seeds/images/eat-more-corn.gif

For many children of the era, adopting the “clean plate” approach to eating became a habit. Although the program ended after World War One, “Clean Plate Clubs” were revived after the Depression and again after World War Two. Both times, the goal was the same — don’t waste food and instead eat everything that is placed in front of you.

Today, the lessons of clean plate clubs are doing more harm than good. Portion sizes have increased dramatically, which makes eating everything on a plate an exercise in excess. Plus, forcing yourself to eat more food in order to “clean the plate” — even when you already feel full — can lead to problems with interpreting fullness cues down the road. And it’s a bad habit. With obesity numbers skyrocketing and its accompanying health issues increasing as well, cleaning your plate is no longer a patriotic act. In fact, it’s advice you should discard.

For More Information:

  1. The National Archives: ” Teaching With Documents: Sow the Seeds of Victory! Posters from the Food Administration During World War I ” http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/sow-seeds/
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: “‘Clean Your Plate’ Orders from Parents May Backfire on Kids” http://healthfinder.gov/News/Article.aspx?id=675613
  3. Wikipedia: “Clean Plate Club” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean_Plate_Club#cite_note-Pledge-2

Presentation Idea: Size with Your Eyes

Here is an interesting link from Lauren Swann, MS, RD, LDN, which we’ve turned into a helpful new resource for you!

Size with Your Eyes:

It seems like the portion size explosion may be beginning to change course, at least according to evidence provided by Restaurant Management magazine. In one of its articles, “A Big Year for Small Portions,” the magazine outlines a few ways that various restaurants are reducing portion size and changing the balance of their plates.

Have participants evaluate this information themselves by crafting a colorful display that compares traditional entrees to lighter fare. Look at pictures of two Applebee’s entrees, for example. How is the Cabernet Mushroom Sirloin (from the Weight Watchers section of the menu) different from the Shrimp ‘N Parmesan Sirloin (from the traditional section of the menu)? By providing opportunities to evaluate actual visual representations of the food and its arrangement on the plate, participants will have more tools to effectively weigh their options when looking at restaurant menus.

There are a few different ways to display this information. Most large restaurant chains have photos of menu items on their websites, so a little research and printing could take care of the whole shebang. You could also draw the proportions of each item and arrange pictures that way. Of course, you could go to the restaurants, order the foods, and take pictures of the actual plates, but that seems a bit expensive and labor-intensive.

Once you have the images you have decided to use, it’s time to pick a presentation style. A side-by-side comparison of heavy food alongside a smaller option can really bring the point home, but another display that features one side filled with traditional entrees and another featuring smaller portions could also be effective. Try them and let us know what works for you!

Need more portion control inspiration? Check out the options below…

Portion Control Handout

Portion Control by the Meal PowerPoint

Scale Down Your Portions Poster (English or Spanish)