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?

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!

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

Make a Healthy Plate!

MyPlate Plate for KidsMyPlate Plate

I’ve just launched a few new MyPlate plates, and I couldn’t wait another moment for you to see them!

These MyPlate plates have been favorites of health and nutrition educators since I first came up with the idea a few years ago. After all, who wouldn’t want an actual plate to use while learning and teaching the key lessons of MyPlate?

These new designs for portion control and kids highlight the importance of balancing eating patterns with physical activity, and there are great options for both adults and kids. In addition to being wonderful teaching tools, these plates are also perfect for prizes, cooking demonstrations, displays, presentations, and much more!

As a treat today, I’d like to share a MyPlate activity that you could do with any of these plates or even a paper plate. Are you ready?

MyPlate Activity: Fill the Plate

What you’ll need:

  • Physical MyPlate Plates
  • Magazines
  • Scissors

What you’ll do:

Assemble your group, pass out the plates, and make sure everyone has access to the scissors and magazines. Explain that they are going to cut out pictures of food and then sort them into the appropriate areas of MyPlate.

Offer your participants some time to cut out their selections, then explain the next part of the activity.

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.

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?

I hope you liked this glimpse of the MyPlate activity that can go with the new MyPlate plates. Don’t miss some of the other wonderful MyPlate resources that are available now in the Nutrition Education Store

Display of the Month: Nutrition Month

It’s National Nutrition Month, and to celebrate, I couldn’t resist making a Nutrition Month display for the Nutrition Education Store’s March Display of the Month! Can you blame me? Here’s what you need to make your own display…

Display for Nutrition MonthThe Materials:

The Activities:

  • Nutrition Month ABCs
  • Brainstorming: Ways to Savor the Flavor of Eating Right

The Details:

To set up your booth, grab a table and drape the front with the Nutrition Month Banner. Top it with the posters you like best from the Quality Nutrition Poster Set. They’re all great for Nutrition Month, but I especially like the Wise Choices and Portion Control posters for this particular display. Put each poster on a Tabletop Easel in order to make it easy to see. Intersperse the educational posters with some Nutrition from A to Z Handouts and MyPlate Brochure Cards, then line the front of your table with Nutrition Month Bookmarks and Nutrition Month Stickers. Toss a whiteboard up on a stand near your display and grab a few dry erase markers if you’re going to do the activities outlined below.

Display and ActivitiesFor the Nutrition Month ABCs activity, ask people to think up words that start with each letter of the alphabet, focusing on key health and nutrition information. For example, the letter “A” could feature words like “antioxidants,” “activity,” “anthocyanins,” and even “vitamin A” if the group is flexible. Discuss each word as it is offered and give prizes to the people who choose to participate. Pass out copies of the Nutrition from A to Z Handout to conclude the activity.

When it comes the the second activity, Brainstorming Ways to Savor the Flavor of Eating Right, your white board can come in handy again. Discuss this year’s theme for Nutrition Month. What are some healthy ways that people can follow that theme and “savor the flavor of eating right” in a manner that is balanced and fun? Record people’s answers on your whiteboard. If they need inspiration, point them to the MyPlate Brochure Cards and Nutrition Posters in your display.

Additional Resources:

If you’re looking for even more materials that you can use for Nutrition Month, don’t miss these additional nutrition education resources…

And here’s another installment of my free printable nutrition education materials — a PDF handout that covers the basics of nutrition

Nutrition Basics for Nutrition Month

More Displays of the Month:

Finally, here are some other fun materials from the Nutrition Education Store!

10,000 Steps Floor Sticker

Digital MyPlate Poster and Resource Collection

MyPlate Stress Relief Coloring Book

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

Display of the Month: Sugar

Set Up Your Display!Let’s start a new tradition, shall we?

Today I want to usher in a brand-new series — the Nutrition Education Store Display of the Month! Each month, we’ll take a look at a new way to display the most important information about a key topic. And, we’ll do it in a way that will engage your clients and make your lessons memorable. What do you think? Are you intrigued?

For the first display, I want to focus on sugar. Here’s what I think will come together to make the best option…

The Materials:

The Activities:

  • Guess how many lollipops would go into a large soda from a fast food chain.
  • Discuss the impact of added sugars on health.

Let’s talk details!

Set up your display area with a table. For an extra aesthetic bonus, cover your table with a plain white tablecloth. Put any chairs you might need behind the table (this comes in handy if you’re manning a booth at a wellness fair — it’s less necessary for a single presentation). On the table, arrange the sugar test tubes wherever you see fit. Add a cardboard easel to hold up a poster for easy viewing, then place the Are You Drinking Candy? poster on top of that easel. Find a spot for the prizes you’ll be handing out — in this case bookmarks and stickers that encourage water consumption over sugary drinks. For the last part of the tablescape, grab a large empty cup from a fast food chain of your choosing and keep it within easy reach. You may also want to have a handful or two of small lollipops. Next to your table, place the Beverage banner on its stand in a place that’s easy for all your participants to see.

Once you’re all set up, you can proceed to the activities.

For the first activity, hold up the large soda container. Ask people to guess how many teaspoons of sugar go into a sugary drink that would fit in this container. Since most lollipops also contain a teaspoon of sugar, you can ask your participants to guess how many lollipops would equal the amount of sugar in one large soda instead. Poll the group, then reveal the answer: on average, a large soda from a fast food chain contains 51 grams of sugar. That’s 12 and 3/4 teaspoons of sugar! (Or, if you’re using lollipops, that’s 12 and 3/4’s lollipops worth of sugar). Hand out prizes to the people whose guesses were closest to that total.

For the second activity, it’s time to talk about the impact of added sugars on health. Introduce information from MyPlate and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, explaining why moderation is so important when it comes to added sugars. It may also be useful to bring in some of these additional resources…

Additional Resources:

Here are a few blog posts with great handouts, charts, and information about sugar.

And there you have it! The first-ever display of the month! What do you think?

Oh, and here’s a closer look at a few of the resources we highlighted in today’s post. Remember, at the Nutrition Education Store, we’re here to help you look your very best, right now!

Sugar Test Tubes

Handout: Are You Drinking Candy?

Water Bookmarks

PS: Here’s a free PDF handout that you can also incorporate into your display!

Sugar Reduction Handout

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!