Two Tools to Keep it Simple

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

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

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

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

 

It’s Time to Change It Up!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plants: Many Beneficial Parts Poster

The Plants: Many Beneficial Parts poster is a beautiful visual for plant-based eating. The message goes beyond “eat more fruits and vegetables” to bring a positive message about how there are so many colorful and abundant choices you have for fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds. 

Use the poster to generate discussions like these:

  • The edible parts of vegetables are often wasted. You can eat the stems! And the leaves!
  • A cooking demo and taste test would be great for introducing many new plant foods listed on this poster. Items like salads or crudite platters require no cooking equipment while soups or smoothies provide a palatable way to introduce more plant foods to the picky eater. 
  • Each part of the plant provides different nutrients, tastes, and textures. What’s an example of a tuber? A root? What nutrients do they provide? This will reinforce why eating a wide variety of plant foods is important. Use these tips from Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD.
  • Moving toward a plant-based eating pattern might mean venturing into unfamiliar territory. Start out by asking people to name each item on the poster. What are those fruits on the top right, below the tomatoes and apple? What kind of nuts are those on the top left? Which of these foods have you tried? Do you like them? Brainstorm different ways of preparing some of the foods pictured on the poster.

 

 

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!