Fruit: Nature’s Fast Food

I’ve got a fun new poster in the store, and today I want to share a little bit about it with you!

First things first, here’s my latest creation:

I was inspired by the fresh produce available last summer at one of my local markets, so when I got home I couldn’t resist setting up a quick still life to highlight these tasty stone fruits at their peak.

Imagine my surprise when this print won 1st place in the Open Print category of the 2016 Annual Print Competition at the Palo Alto Camera Club. Ron Herman was the judge, and I was completely floored by his decision.

Soon after this picture won, I decided to feature it in my gallery showing this past winter. The showing was titled “A Visual Feast” and took place at the Avenue 25 Gallery in San Mateo California. In fact, if you look closely, you can see this photo hanging with a few other favorites in the picture below.*

I was so proud of this original photo that I decided to turn it into a poster. But what to call it?

I wanted to steer clear of additional artistic commentary and let the image speak for itself, so I focused my brainstorming on key health lessons and nutrition topics. Then, out of the blue, it hit me. Fruit is nature’s fast food! I often grab a peach or a handful of cherries on my way out the door or to snack on as I work at my desk, and I realized that these snacking habits had — over time — gradually replaced my reliance on fast food. I’m sure that this change in my routine was great news for my health, and so now I want to share that epiphany with your clients in order to encourage them to also change their habits.

And that’s how this poster came to be. How will you use it?

* This image is copyright 2017 by Len Cook @expressionfood.com

And here are some other resources that can help make your life easier…

Bulletin Board Idea for Spring

Spring is kicking into high gear, and what better time is there to put together a bright seasonal bulletin board with helpful health messages?

I created this Spring Bulletin Board Banner to highlight key foods that make their debut in the spring, and as I was looking at it the other day, I decided to outline how to use it to anchor a bulletin board display!

Here are the details…

Put the Spring Bulletin Board Banner in the upper right hand corner of your bulletin board area. Print out the recipe for the healthy spring dinner plate featured on the poster and arrange it next to your banner. Note that this recipe is only available to Food and Health members, so if you haven’t already signed up, take a look at the benefits of membership today!

If you have room for another handout, print out the free PDF that accompanies the Spring Bulletin Board Banner and arrange it on your board too.

Fill the remaining space with images of healthful spring produce. You can print these from the internet, cut them out of magazines, or draw them. You could also add some fun MyPlate stickers, which coordinate well with the color scheme featured on the banner.

What kinds of displays are you making for spring?

8 Things We Learned About Sugar

Sugar Math PosterWhen the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) released their recommendations about sugar intake, we thought they made a lot of sense. After all, the World Health Organization has been recommending a 10% calorie limit on added sugars for over a decade. The DGA committee now recognizes that sugar makes up about 30% of daily calories in our country, so changes are needed to cut down on sugary beverages, snacks, and desserts with added sugars. Treat foods and beverages are no longer treats but daily staples, which in turn is a significant cause of obesity when people are not getting enough physical activity and when high-sugar foods are replacing high-fiber foods that can help people feel more satiated.

Yet if you tell people to keep their sugar intake to 10% of their daily calories, this advice doesn’t necessarily have much real-world meaning.

People would have to do a bit of math to figure out how much sugar that that recommendation is allowing for each day. To calculate it, they would first need to land on a daily calorie intake. A 2,000-calorie-per-day eating pattern is pretty typical, so in our example let’s use that as a base number. 10% of 2,000 calories is 200 calories each day. There’s the maximum in an easier format to apply to day-to-day life.

Of course, some people prefer to calculate their sugar needs in grams. To do that, divide the daily total calories from sugar by 4 (calories per gram). For a 2,000-calorie diet, the max is 50 grams.

Just for kicks, let’s set that out in teaspoons too. There are 4 grams of sugar in a teaspoon. That means that the daily cap is set at roughly 12 teaspoons of added sugars per day.

I hope those mathematical measurements can help your clients apply the DGA’s sugar recommendations to their daily lives. You can find all these measurements in the Sugar Math poster, which is what started this entire mathematical exercise.

Of course, the importance of sugar math isn’t the only thing we learned as we were putting the poster together. Here are the top 8 lessons that really made us think as we created that resource…

  1. One 12-ounce soda can have about 40 grams of sugar. That’s almost a full day’s supply of added sugar. Kid-sized sodas at most fast food places are 12 ounces — the same amount as that can of soda!
  2. Regular and large sodas at fast food places are usually equivalent to 2 or more cans of soda.
  3. Sweetened iced tea contains a surprising amount of sugar, roughly 22 grams per cup. Most bottles contain a couple cups or more, which in turn makes it easy to consume a day’s supply of sugar in one bottle of iced tea.
  4. Sweet treats are not only high in sugar but they are also high in calories. The average large cookie contains over 400 calories and a day’s supply of added sugars.
  5. Coffee drinks, tea, sodas, snacks, sweetened yogurt, and dessert can easily supply three days or more’s worth of sugar. It all adds up.
  6. A surprise to our team was that a can of soda is equivalent to a serving of candy!
  7. 50 grams can add up quickly, but if we could get to dinner without putting sweetened beverages in our day, then we had a little of our sugar budget left over for a half cup of frozen yogurt. In a typical day, I used the rest of my budget on a cereal bar and jam for a sandwich. Overall, the guideline helped us lower our calories, especially in beverage calories.
  8. It’s a great idea to track what you eat and drink in a day so you can make better choices.

And there you have it! 8 things we learned while putting together the Sugar Math poster. I’m really proud of this poster — it’s a great resource for nutrition and health educators because it lays out key lessons about added sugars in a fun and memorable way.

Want to share these lessons with your clients? From our collection of free printable nutrition education materials comes a new PDF handout all about added sugars!

Free Added Sugars Handout

And here are some other fantastic sugar education resources, straight from the Nutrition Education Store!

Nutrition Month Activity Idea

Yes, I know that Nutrition Month is drawing to a close, but I couldn’t resist sharing one last activity idea to promote good health. Plus, this activity doesn’t have to be limited to March — use it anytime you want to teach a nutrition lesson!

I planned this activity around the topics in the Nutrition at a Glance Poster so that you could help your audience internalize 3 keys to balanced nutrition. If you don’t have the poster, no sweat! Just address the topics with your class before you begin the activity.

Divide everyone into three groups and assign one of the three topics on the poster to each group:

  • Let Macronutrients Put Their Best Food Forward
  • Get Your Vitamins and Minerals from Food
  • Avoid Extra Processed Food Dangers by Reading Food Labels

Explain that each group is going to come up with 5 Jeopardy-style pairs of questions and answers about their assigned topic. If computers or smartphones are available, let the students use those to research fun facts and key points to address in their questions.

As the groups work, circulate around the room addressing any issues they might have and reviewing their question and answer pairs to make sure that they’re both accurate and answerable.

Once all the groups have their 5 questions, reconvene the class. Have the macronutrients group present their questions to the vitamins and minerals group, then have the vitamins and minerals group present their questions to the food label group. Finally, the food label group can present their questions to the macronutrients group. With this system, each group can engage deeply with 2 of the 3 topics on the poster.

As the teams are competing, keep score so that you can announce a winner at the end of the activity.

And what’s a good activity without a few prizes to motivate and reward your audience? Here are some of my favorites for Nutrition Month!

And for other great activities, don’t miss these fun posts…

Finally, what would Nutrition Month be without a little decoration? Check out these amazing materials…

Nutrition Month Display Ideas

It’s not too late to set up an engaging display for National Nutrition Month!

The best displays feature information in a variety of formats, presented in an eye-catching and memorable manner. Here are a few strategies that you can use to put together your best display yet…

Bulletin Board:

It’s usually a good idea to center a bulletin board around a banner or poster. For Nutrition Month, I would recommend any of the following, depending on the space you have available.

Once you’ve picked a poster/banner or two to center your display, it’s just a matter of filling in the details. One way to vary the view while imparting key information is to add a few relevant handouts, like these!

You can also print out pictures that support your main point (people being active for an exercise board, healthful foods/meals for a nutrition board etc) and fill in a few gaps with assorted stickers or wall decals.

Tabletop Display:

Tabletop displays offer a better chance for interaction than a bulletin board display, but they also take up more room.

The key to a good tabletop display is having something that will draw people to the table. Banners on stands offer a great way to stand out from the crowd, and these options are perfect for Nutrition Month:

Floor stickers are also creative (and intriguing) eye-catchers here. My personal favorites include:

Then you want to fill your table with resources that will help your audience learn and remember key Nutrition Month lessons. Posters like the ones featured in the bulletin board section above are great options, and you can prop them up on a tabletop easel or two. Handouts are useful take-home resources too, as are stickers/bookmarks/other fun prizes.

If you’re talking about sugar, salt, or fat content in your display, I’d highly recommend test tubes, which you can use to display the average amount of your featured element in a variety of foods.

These materials offer a great visual way to compare and contrast different options, and the test tubes have gotten wonderful feedback in the past. In fact, they’re one of our most popular resources for health fairs!

And there you have it! A little Nutrition Month display inspiration!

For additional resources to help with your National Nutrition Month celebrations, don’t miss these amazing materials…

Eating Mindfully in 3 Steps

Mindful eating is a great way to build healthy habits and a balanced relationship with food. To help make eating mindfully more appealing and accessible to your clients, I’ve created a brand new poster and handout set: A Guide to Mindful Eating.

Today, I’d like to preview the handout that comes with the poster. Take a look and let me know what you think!

Mindful Eating

People often follow food and diet rules that they believe will help them reach their health goals. These rules might be what to eat based on cave men or avoid a food group like carbohydrates. All of this can become overwhelming. Recently, a new buzzword has entered the diet world: mindful eating.

Mindful eating, also called intuitive eating, happens when people consume food while staying aware of their hunger and without passing judgement on the food or the act of eating. When practicing mindful eating, eaters listen to internal hunger and satiety cues. Sound nutrition information becomes a guideline for food choices, but food is selected based on hunger levels, nutritional needs, and existing illnesses or allergies.

Step 1: Recognize hunger cues and the feeling of satiety. Hunger can have both physical and psychological sensations. One may feel an emptiness or a hollow fee ling in the gut, restlessness, the inability to focus, irritability, or fatigue. Satiety should feel more comfortable than hunger. Satiety is the feeling of being full but it does not mean being stuffed from over eating or  trying to clean your plate.

Step 2: Put your food on a plate and sit down to eat. This will help you balance your meals, avoid over eating, and enjoy the flavor of your food. It helps you feel satiated and keeps you from eating on the run. It also helps you see how much you are eating instead of eating what food manufacturers and restaurants dictate for portions.

Step 3: Savor the flavor of your food. Think about the flavors in your meals and enjoy them. This will help you refocus after a busy day and enjoy your meals.

Mindful eating does take practice, but it’s actually an innate technique. Consider a newborn. When she is hungry, she sends a signal that it is time to eat (crying). When she is satiated, she will stop eating. Over time, we may lose this skill as external factors come into play. The “clean plate club,” eating with family at a set time, or various diet rules can all contribute to a loss of this skill. The good news is that people can return to mindful eating and take the focus away from food and external cues. This offers an opportunity to focus on a more joyful and healthy life. When people begin to listen to their bodies, eating becomes a form of self-care. It can restore food to its original function: a source of nourishment.

It’s time to get back to basics, ditch the rules, use sound nutrition as a guideline, and truly listen to what our bodies need. It’s time for mindful eating.

By Beth Rosen, MS, RD, CDN

Did you like it? Here’s a free copy of the printable mindful eating handout!

Mindful Eating

And here are some other great resources, just for you!

Display of the Month: Sugar Math

It’s time for a brand-new Display of the Month!

This month, I want to feature Sugar Math: an engaging and memorable way to teach valuable lessons about added sugars and good health.

Let’s dive right in!

The Materials:

The Activities:

August Sugar Math

The Details:

Set up your space as pictured above, adjusting your arrangements to fit the activities you’ve chosen and the space provided.

For the Sugar Quiz, pose the following questions to your group. You can divide them into teams and track points to declare a winner at the end or simply address volunteers individually. Don’t forget to offer Water WristbandsStickers, and Bookmarks as prizes for correct answers or for the winning team.

  1. True or false: A healthy diet should include no more than 10% of its calories from added sugars. (true)
  2. How many calories per day is the upper limit for added sugars for the average person? (200)
  3. And what is that in grams of sugar? (50)
  4. Where can you find added sugars? (on the new nutrition facts label, or point to the general list of sugars in a food and explore how to intuit how much of those sugars is added)
  5. Roughly how many teaspoons of sugar make up the average upper limit for daily added sugar intake? (12)

August Sugar Math Interactive

Now let’s talk about the Yogurt and Added Sugar Measurements Activity. You may need to rearrange your table for this one.

Gather your group around the table and hold up a clean, empty container that was once used to hold yogurt. Ask everyone how much sugar they think was in that container. Take guesses (if people are shy at first, use prizes like the Water WristbandsStickers, and Bookmarks as motivation for contributing), then show them where to find the answer on the label. Hold up a few more containers and repeat the process.

Pick a container of yogurt and have people use a teaspoon to measure out how much sugar is in that container (provide a dish of refined sugar and a few spoons for this purpose) assembling it all in a clear zip-top baggie. You can also use these amazing Sugar Test Tubes.

Do the same thing with the other containers of yogurt, discussing their findings as they go. How much sugar is in that yogurt? How much of it appears to be added sugar? Why?

If you have the resources, a Sugar Presentation is also a fun way to make lessons about added sugars more memorable. Cue up a projector (or your laptop) to show either the Added Sugars DVD or Sugar Scoop PowerPoint, or both! The PowerPoint comes with additional handouts, which you can distribute after the presentation.

Other Display Ideas:

Here is a collection of the past displays of the month. Which will make an appearance at your next health or wellness fair?

And here are some fantastic sugar resources, fresh from the Nutrition Education Store!

Display of the Month: Eating Pattern Shifts

Shifting to a healthier eating pattern is — hands down — a great idea.

After all, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans assert, “most Americans urgently need to shift intakes to achieve […] healthy eating patterns.” MyPlate echoes this advice, urging people to “Focus on making healthy food and beverage choices from all five food groups including fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy […] Make small changes to create a healthier eating style.”

That’s why this month’s display is all about encouraging manageable shifts to improve eating patterns.

You may remember the myriad displays of the month leading up to this point, and I have to confess that this one is one of my very favorites. If you’d like to catch up before proceeding to the newest edition, simply follow the links below…

And now for the new stuff! Here’s a guide to everything you need to put together July’s Display of the Month…

Set Up Your Booth

The Materials:

The Activities:

  • Game: Make the Shift!
  • Discussion: What Makes Eating Pattern Shifts Sustainable?

The Details:

Start by setting up your space. Grab a big table and hang the Change It Up Banner in front of it. On top of the table, arrange a Healthier Choices 1-2-3 Poster on a Tabletop Easel, flanked by some Make Healthy Choices a Snap Handouts. Circle the whole thing with your prizes — a mix of Change It Up Bookmarks and Butterfly Stickers. Now, where do you have a little extra space? Where else would you like to draw the eye? Wherever that is, set up your banner: Change It Up or Healthier Choices 1-2-3 or both!

Survey your arrangement. What works? What doesn’t? Adjust accordingly, then get ready for your participants to arrive.

Engage Your Audience

For the Make the Shift! Game, write down some common meals and snack foods that aren’t ideal for good health. On the back of each card, draft a few ideas for ways to shift that food/meal into a healthier element of a balanced eating pattern. Check out MyPlate and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for some inspiration.

Once your participants arrive, announce the game and offer prizes for fantastic answers. Decide whether you’re going to have people play individually or in teams, then hold up your first card. What isn’t healthy about that meal/food? What can people do to help shift it into a healthier choice? How sustainable is that shift? Offer extra points for creativity. Once you’ve run out of cards, tally points and award prizes to the winners (alternatively, you can toss out prizes for participation and engagement as everyone plays the game).

For your discussion of What Makes Eating Pattern Shifts Sustainable? simply pose the question to the group. What kind of changes are easier to sustain over time? Why? Which are unsustainable? Why? What have people had success with in the past? What stumbling blocks have they overcome?

Oh, and here’s the free printable Make Healthy Choices a Snap handout for your display too!

Healthy Choices 123

Before we end this post, don’t miss these other great resources for eating pattern shifts…

Display of the Month: Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

June is Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month, so what better time is there to celebrate the joys of a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables? This month’s display will help you do just that, without having to burn the midnight oil.

The Materials:

The Activities:

  • Game: Name That Fruit or Vegetable
  • Brainstorming Session: Incorporating Variety into Your Meals

The Details:

To set up your space, first arrange your table with the Color Your World with Food Banner hanging along the front. Flanking it to one side, add the You Need Fuel: Choose Wisely Banner and Stand. To balance it, set up your brainstorming space on the other side of the table. Arrange the Fruit and Vegetable Balloons behind the table. Now top the table with the I Heart Fruits and Vegetables Poster on a Tabletop Easel and arrange some of the Fruit and Vegetable Handouts out in front of it. Line up your prizes (Fruit and Vegetable Pens and Fruit and Vegetable Stickers) at the front of your table, then take a step back and evaluate. How does the display look? Make any necessary shifts, then get ready for your activities.

Display of the month

For the Name That Fruit or Vegetable Game assemble a collection of facts and trivia about common fruits and vegetables. Food and Health’s blog has a few pages of great resources for this game, and the Name That Fruit and Veggie PowerPoint Slideshow is full of fruit and veggie facts as well. Consider the following examples as inspiration for your own collection.

  • This guitar-shaped squash is rich in alpha carotene, which has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer (butternut).
  • These tart citrus fruits contain limonin, a cancer-fighting compound that is good for your health (lemons).
  • These starchy veggies are fat-free sources of vitamin E (yams).
  • This tree-like veggie is part of the cabbage family (broccoli).

Once you’ve assembled your facts and trivia (note: this should be before the fair), collect a group of people at your booth to compete for the prizes you’ve displayed. Present each fun fact and let people guess what fruit or vegetable matches it. Offer correct answers and prizes as you go, or have people track their successes and declare a winner at the end of the game.

After the game, turn to brainstorming. Grab your marker and a spot within reach of the brainstorming space, then ask people to discuss the fruits and vegetables they commonly eat. Do they get enough? Review the recommendations set forward by MyPlate and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, then return to the main topic. How can people incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their meals? How can they build up the variety of fruits and veggies they eat in a week? Offer the remaining prizes for participation, handing them out as volunteers call out suggestions.

Additional Resources:

There are lots of other fruit and vegetable resources that would be perfect for this display, or for another Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month activity. Why not try…

And for more inspiration, check out the previous editions of the Display of the Month series…

Here’s the free printable Fruit and Vegetable Handout for your display!

Fruit and Vegetable Handout

And finally, last but not least, here are some essentials for your Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month celebration…

Shopping with MyPlate: Activity Guide

MyPlate is more than a fantastic guide to healthy dining! Much of its advice can also be applied to healthy shopping. You may remember the post Shopping with MyPlate: A Handout. The leader guide that goes with that handout is too good not to share, so here it is! How will you use your copy?

Shopping with MyPlate: Activity Ideas

Make a List! (Kids) Explain that, in order to have meals like MyPlate, people have to fill their shopping carts like MyPlate too. Find out who has gone to the grocery store with their parents. What was the experience like? Have each child pretend that they are in charge of meals for the week and plan a grocery list. What do they need to do in order to get food for healthful meals? Feel free to use the shopping list handout included in this lesson. Come back together as a group and discuss the lists.

Grocery Tour: (Adults) Take a field trip to the grocery store. Discuss the layout of the store and how to find foods that match MyPlate’s advice. Spend some time on Nutrition Facts labels, demonstrating how to evaluate sodium content, added sugars, saturated fat ratios, etc. Offer participants a chance to get groceries, and discuss what they found. Why did they pick what they picked?

MyPlate Shopping Display:

A display can help flesh out this lesson. Consider some of the following ideas…

Interactive Display: Put up a large, blank MyPlate image inside a picture of a shopping cart. Have adults write down healthful foods that would fit in each group. Kids can also draw pictures of those foods.

Shopping Tips: Center a picture of MyPlate on your board, then surround it with word bubbles full of shopping tips that will make grocery trips easier and result in more healthful purchases.

Shopping List Samples: Write out a list of healthful foods, dividing them into MyPlate categories. This can serve as shopping inspiration.

This post is excerpted from the MyPlate Workbook. If you like what you see, don’t miss this free printable leader guide!

MyPlate Shopping Leader Guide

We’re here to help you look your very best right now, so here are some other amazing MyPlate resources from the Nutrition Education Store