Nutrition Education in the COVID-19 Era

What does nutrition and health education look like in the COVID-19 era? People want to know how to …

  • Stay healthy, boost their immune system, and reduce their chance of catching the virus.
  • Prevent or manage chronic diseases, like diabetes, that can lead to serious COVID-19 complications.
  • Save money at the supermarket and cook healthy meals at home.

We have a collection of COVID-19 Era Nutrition Education materials to help you teach these topics. But what about social distancing and people who want to learn in a no-contact setting? The PowerPoint shows in our COVID-19 collection make it easy to offer engaging online workshops that meet your clients’ needs.

Here’s one example of how you could use our shows:

Saving money at the supermarket is a hot topic right now. You could offer a two-part online series that appeals to the broad audience of folks who, pre-COVID, were in the habit of eating out a lot.

Start out by dispelling the myth that healthy food is expensive – our Healthy Eating on a Budget PowerPoint presentation proves it. Your clients will learn:

  • Cost per ounce and nutrition facts for choices from each MyPlate food group.
  • How to plan meals, build a shopping list, and limit food waste.
  • Budget-friendly ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
  • Lots of other money-saving tips.

Since saving money means cooking at home more, the second part of your online series should be our 25 Ingredients Into 15 Fast Healthy Meals PowerPoint show. With real photos of real food, your audience will learn to prepare a week’s worth of low-fat, high-fiber meals. We even provide tips on how to use our recipes for your own cooking demo in case you want to add that to your online workshop.

If this idea for a two-part workshop series doesn’t work for you, just change it up. Maybe split the information into 15-minute sessions. And all of our PowerPoint shows come with downloadable handouts that you can send to clients as a follow-up to what they’ve learned.

If you are planning in-person classes or events, check out our new custom printed face masks

Shop from your freezer

Not wanting to go to the grocery store and have more time at home to cook than usual? Looking for meals you can cook for dinner from what’s already in your house? It’s time to shop from your freezer.

Do you really know what’s in there? Take the time to pull things out and make decisions if I you’ll ever use that food or not. You might want to do an inventory list so you can remember what’s there. Update this list as you use up the food.

Some keys for freezer storage:

The “rule of thumb” for freezing fresh foods (like turkey, hamburger, fresh fruits and vegetables) is that it will keep for one year. Precooked foods and leftovers are best if eaten within three to four months. These time recommendations are for quality not safety.

This loss of quality is what’s often called “freezer burn” and does not necessarily make food unsafe.   This can be dehydration, deterioration of quality or just an “off flavor”.  Safety wise food can stay in the freezer longer if there has not been any loss of power and the food has been kept at zero degrees.  Think quality vs. safety. The US Food and Drug Administration has a great chart online with recommended freezer storage times.

Another key to keeping your freezer items under control and to help with the inventory is to label all items with the description and date.  You may think you’ll always remember what’s in that package, but once frozen applesauce can look like gravy and kale can look like chopped broccoli.  Mystery food.

If you have find you have a collection of these unknown items….have a Surprise Dinner! Thaw out all of these unlabeled items and serve as a smorgasbord.  It may not be balanced nutrition, it may not all go together, but you’ve accomplished several things – cleaned the freezer, learned what’s there and fun (ny) dinner.

When looking at these items and making decisions remember the old saying, “when in doubt about the age, the quality or the safety of a food….throw it out.”

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS

Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

Reference:

Cold Food Storage https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/1d403c11-63f0-4671-990e-51c9f8f05b2c/Cold-Food-Storage-Magnet-2017.pdf?MOD=AJPERES

 

 

Caution: Shopping Excitement

Everyone’s mind right now if focusing on COVID-19.   If you’re like me, you’re planning fewer trips to the grocery store and “stocking up” a little more while there.

Since I hadn’t been to the store in about a month our supply of fresh foods was gone.  When we finally went to the store and I was thrilled to replenish and may have gotten a little carried away.  I’m thinking I was on-the-edge of “over-purchasing” (hopefully that’s a step-down from a hoarder.) I’m working on using the food up and sharing some with neighbors,  but I have a feeling that others may be in the same boat as me—uncertain of the future and also “eyes bigger than the refrigerator” while shopping.

This “shopping excitement”  could lead to food waste or (even worse) a foodborne illness that could cause you to need a doctor or emergency room (not something any of us want to do right now).

11 of our “tried and true” food safety cautions are even more important to remember now:

  1. Get food into the refrigerator as soon as possible after shopping.  I know some folks are thinking they should leave it in the garage for a couple of days, this may cause more problems with temperatures outside rising into the temperate danger zone.
  2. Check the temperature of your refrigerator. It should be below 40 degrees F. But keep it higher enough not to freeze your lettuce and other fresh foods.
  3. Don’t overfill the refrigerator.  Allow for air circulation. Practice FIFO in your refrigerator—First In, First Out.
  4. Wash your hands before beginning to cook. Most folks are getting better at this.
  5. Wash the kitchen countertop before you begin to cook.  If you have a cause-for-concern you might want to sanitize or disinfect the work surfaces in addition to cleaning.
  6. Store fresh meat and poultry in a pan on the bottom of the refrigerator so it won’t drip onto fresh fruits and vegetables that won’t be cooked.  Sealed containers are the most ideal type to use for raw meat, poultry, and fish.
  7. If you’re doing bulk purchasing of fresh meat or chicken be sure to take care—mishandling of these foods has been linked to foodborne illnesses in the past.  Avoid getting the juices in your vehicle or on other foods, utensils,  countertops, and other kitchen surfaces.  Freeze what you can’t use within 7 days.
  8. Remember meat and poultry should be cooked to the minimum recommended internal temperature.  Chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees F, ground beef to 155 degrees F and whole cuts of beef and pork to 145 degrees F.  Use a thermometer to check temps—don’t guess.
  9. After cooking and eating be sure to put any leftovers into the refrigerator as soon as possible.
  10. If you’ve “over-purchased”  fresh fruits and vegetables consider freezing or preserving them for future use.  The National Center for Home Food Preservation has research-based instructions at https://nchfp.uga.edu
  11. If you have “over-purchased” canned foods that you won’t be able to use, check with your local food bank or food pantry, they may be in need of replenishment.

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

Sodium Sneaks Up On You

I think most of us are aware of sodium in many canned foods and routinely purchase low sodium products. But sometimes it pops up where you least expect it.

I’m talking about commercially prepared salsa.

Salsa is running neck-to-neck with ketchup as the most popular condiment in the United States.  More and more I’m seeing recipes that use salsa as an ingredient in a recipe.  I recently made soup that used an entire jar of salsa to add a bolt of flavor.  The recipe encouraged cooks to purchase their favorite type of salsa—chunky, smooth, hot, mild, with beans or without…..whatever you wanted to add a punch to this soup recipe.

Not only did it add a punch —it added a lot of sodium. I sure was surprised. When was the last time you really read the Nutrition Facts on the label of a bottle of commercially made salsa? Yikes!  I think that it’s interesting to note that the word salsa comes from Latin for salt or salted.

Let’s get to the nitty-gritty—the Nutrition Facts label clearly read contains 210 milligrams of sodium per serving.  The kicker is the serving size.  Just two tablespoons is a serving. There were 24 servings in the bottle.  This is kind of like that old commercial for chips….who can eat just one serving of salsa?  Think about the last time you were at a Mexican restaurant and they put that basket of chips and bowl of salsa in front of you? Did you stop at two tablespoons?

The entire 24-ounce jar of chunky mild salsa contained 5250 milligrams of sodium.  The recipe made 12 one-cup servings—so the sodium provided by the salsa alone was 438 milligrams. This is on par with a serving of soup from a can.

So, what’s good about salsa?  It can be low in calories (10 per serving), low in sugar (1 gram) and contains some fiber (1 gram).

The amount of sodium in the diet has been linked to increased blood pressure and increased risk of cardiovascular disease in adults. The 2015-2020 US Dietary Guidelines tell us that adults and children ages 14 and older should limit sodium to less than 2,300 mg per day. This is about what you get in one teaspoon of salt.   For people with high blood pressure, a further reduction to 1,500 mg per day is recommended.

It sure is easy to grab a jar of salsa from the cupboard and use it as an ingredient. But like most processed food, it can backfire.  When shopping, read nutrition labels and try to find a product with less sodium per serving. Other obvious solutions would be to cut back on serving size. Another idea is to experiment and modify the recipe using low-salt tomatoes or tomato sauce and add your own herbs, peppers, and spices. At a restaurant opt for a fresh Pico de Gallo instead of an unknown (possible sodium bomb.) Trader Joe has a fire-roasted salsa that has no salt added and is especially nice for adding to dishes like soups (tip and favorite of Barbara Rice, RD, LD).

Making your own salsa can give you that flavor boost with limited (or no) sodium, too.  Not only do they provide fresh flavor but also some fresh vegetables to the diet.

Here is a free salsa recipe that is very easy to make and it contains no added salt:

https://foodandhealth.com/recipes.php/recipe/832

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

 

 

Buying Pineapple

The other day I was at the grocery store and there was a pile of pineapples at a very good price. I picked one up and thought to myself “what do I know about buying pineapple?”  I seemed to remember something about the leaves pulling out—but is that bad or good?  I just grabbed one and hoped for the best.

But, now that I’m home, I decided to look it up and share because I figured I’m not the only one in a quandary.

I learned that pineapples do NOT ripen after they are picked. They just get older. So quickly my pineapple went from the counter to inside the refrigerator.  The sooner you eat the pineapple the better—for best quality eat within four days to a week of purchase.  Once cut, continue to store covered in the refrigerator and eat within two days.

If allowed to fully ripen on the plant a yellowish-orange rind will give you the best fruit quality. Pineapples ripen from the bottom up, so the more yellow as it moves up the body the better. But this doesn’t mean that a green pineapple is bad and many are picked and shipped with green color.   Unless you’re standing in a pineapple plantation, having one shipped directly to you from a grower  or have a plant in your garden, you’re going to have to trust that the growers picked the pineapple at the appropriate degree of sweetness and ripeness. There is no “season” for pineapples. They are available year round.  In general, pineapples from Hawaii are shipped only to the west coast of the continental US and other parts of the country get pineapple from Mexico and Costa Rica.

If there is a pile of pineapple—pick one of the bigger and heavier ones.  You just get more for your money.

The best way to tell if you have a good pineapple is that it looks fresh and the leaves are still green.  Avoid bruised, mushy skin and soft spots on the body.  The base of the pineapple should not be wet or moldy.  Does it smell pleasant and sweet?  If it smells slightly spoiled or like fermentation or vinegar—avoid that one!

Two slices of pineapple (about 4 ounces) has 50 calories, zero fat, 1 gram sodium and 19 mg of vitamin C which is about 60% the amount needed for one day.

Remember when I thought about the leaves?   This tends to be an “old wives tale”.  Being able to pull the leaves out of the crown is not a sign of ripeness or quality.

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

Best ways to prepare and serve fresh pineapple:

  • grilled and warm
  • cubed and placed on skewers
  • slice and place on salads
  • chopped and put on any protein dish
  • add to stir fry dishes
  • add to salsa

Download Recipe PDF:

Wild Rice with Pineapple

 

 

 

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.

 

15 Chef’s Ideas To Help Kids Love Healthful Foods

You can make all of the healthful dishes in the world, but if your kids don’t want to eat them, it feels like you are spinning your wheels. As the Chef and Founder of Food & Health Communications, Inc., I am keenly aware of what foods my son and I need to eat for optimal health. I also know that this is easier said than done, even for me as a chef because it is hard to find the time.

My son, Nicholas, was one of the pickiest eaters around as a child. He didn’t want any foods on his plate to touch, he wouldn’t try anything “mixed,” he didn’t like any kind of sauce, he only liked a few vegetables, he wouldn’t try soup, and he wouldn’t even look at a salad. At first, the whole thing was baffling and I didn’t know where to start. I ate a wide variety of healthful foods, and I exposed Nicholas to them at a very young age because I made a lot of his baby food from scratch so how could he be so picky? I felt that I should do something to help him expand his repertoire and enjoy more fruits and vegetables. I did notice that whenever he helped me cook something, he was more likely to eat it, so that is where I started and just expanded to these projects:

1) We started a simple, inexpensive herb garden. Nicholas and I spent quality time together learning about herbs, buying them, growing them, harvesting them, and using them in our cooking. During the evenings and on weekends, we would stop and look at the garden, pick some herbs, or care for them. Before bed, I would read him a funny cooking book called Warthogs in the Kitchen. Herbs are amazing because they have a wonderful smell. Mint was like his gum; rosemary is like a tree; basil smells like pizza sauce; thyme is a little like the woods. I used the herbs as a way to get Nicholas to try new foods, and I was met with instant success. We made herb-flavored vinegars that could be used on salad, which prompted him to start eating salads. I also used the herbs in new and healthful dishes like beans and rice, taco salad, tortilla pizzas, stews, etc. When herbs from our garden were in play, Nicholas would usually try the new food that featured them. He didn’t like every dish, but I?never gave up on getting him to try healthful foods.

2) We started doing more physical activities together. I noticed that whenever Nicholas’s activity level increased, so did his appetite! Instead of watching TV after dinner, we went for a bike ride or a walk with the dogs. Whenever I ran, he would ride beside me on his bike. When I swam, he joined me for the last few laps. He even did a triathlon and won first place!

3) Healthful food was always available. I kept 3 or 4 different types of fruit ready to eat in the refrigerator at all times. Salad was always cut and ready, along with potatoes, frozen vegetables, and baby carrots. And fruit was served in the most creative desserts.

4) No bribes, just snack platters slipped in. I never bribed him to eat healthful food. Food is not a reward. It is nourishment. But I did slip a fruit plate in his room while he was playing video games  (screen time was never in excess, though, because we always had a lot of fun outside toys plus dogs to walk). A bowl of baby carrots usually appeared on his desk during homework. The best time for fruits and veggies is when they are busy and you just “make them appear.”

5) Food and meals were always pleasant. I didn’t force him to eat anything he didn’t like nor did I punish him for not eating a particular food. I offered a wide variety of healthful foods and he chose what he wanted to eat. I did not keep a whole pantry full of chips, crackers, cookies, and sweetened cereals, either. When we wanted to eat cookies, we make them from scratch. I did buy cookies or crackers as an occasional treat. That way, we established that those foods weren’t forbidden — they just weren’t mainstays. I always make a big deal about dinner – it takes little effort to set a beautiful table with placemats, cloth napkins, nice water goblets and bone china or any neat china. We have a candle that is battery operated and it comes on every night!

6) Let’s cook! He helped me with meal preparation on most days. This is not always easy when you are tired or in a hurry, but it does make a difference. Here is our special chocolate chip cookie recipe along with age-appropriate kids tasks.

7) Backups count, too. The after school babysitter had a menu and recipes so that she could prepare healthful snacks and meals. Our babysitter really loved the cooking lessons and she just wrote that she is getting married and she is so happy she can make so many good things!!

8) Shopping is a fun activity. We grocery shopped together and visited farmers’ markets, too. The focus was what to put on our list and we always stuck to it in the store.

9) Dine fancy. I took him to fancy restaurants and let him choose whatever he wanted. This is a situation that really promotes the opportunity to try new things because it is their choice. He picked the most adventurous things like stuffed zucchini blossoms when we were dining in Greens, the famous vegetarian restaurant in San Francisco! It makes the child feel special when  you take them to a nice place to eat. When he was young we dressed up and I would talk about how he was expected to act. It wasn’t always perfect in the beginning but now he is a perfect gentleman.

10) Grow more. He planted a vegetable garden when he got older. The items to plant were his choice and he was so proud of his tomatoes, potatoes and huge zucchini.

11) Teach them to cook. He learned a whole repertoire of items he can prepare that included: cookies, salad, pizza, macaroni, bean quesadillas, salsa, pasta and much more. I bought kitchen equipment like quesadilla makers, bread machines and waffle makers that help him succeed. His favorite dish right now is a vegetarian pannini.

12) Chef’s table. He created a chef’s table in his room for my birthday and he planned the menu and cooked!

13) Summer camps can enrich knowledge. His last summer camp was at Stanford for 2 weeks where he and his classmates at Stanford’s OHS worked on a multi-disciplinary topic, “The Problem of Food.” They were required to read “An Omnivore’s Dilemma”, plan menus, visit farms, calculate kitchen math and cook for an audience. Other summer camps have taught him to program iPhone Apps and he is the programmer for Salad Secrets and Holiday Secrets, two of the food apps we made together. The important thing is to find one that a child will love.

14) His list, too. Now he helps me with the meal planning and grocery list. We have a list that stays on the refrigerator and whenever he requests an ingredient, he puts it on the list and I buy it! Usually his requests include black beans, tortillas, salsa and bottled waters, because he is still riding his bike to the pool and swimming!

15) Have fun and don’t worry. When he was a toddler he would eat watermelon for 3 days in a row. I likened that to reading the same book over and over. And once, when I was practicing for the ProChef II test, he discovered chocolate eclairs and wanted them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He even put them in his lunch box. That was the only time I made them and it a good memory.

As you can see, the possibilities for kids and food are endless. It usually only takes 10 more minutes each day to make something special for dinner together and the memories are priceless.

If you have questions, please click “Contact Us” from the link below.

By Judy Doherty, PC II

Chef and Founder

Food and Health Communications, Inc.

Communicating Food for Health

NutritionEducationStore.com

Judy is a graduate from the Culinary Institute of America and the Fachschule Richmont in Luzern, Switzerland. She spent over 20 years in foodservice. She was the executive pastry chef for the Grand Hyatt Westshore in Tampa, FL and The Hyatt on Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale, AZ. She has received the ACF Chef of the Year, ACF Bronze Medal and ACF Gold Medal. She holds the ProChef II Credential from the Culinary Institute of America. She has authored 12 books including Salad Secrets, Holiday Secrets, No Battles Better Eating, Cooking Demo Ideas and a new one coming up called the Art of the Lowcal Dessert. Her work has appeared in Chocolatier Magazine, Bon Appetit and Great Chefs of the West.

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?

Lean Protein Spotlight: Turkey

The other day, I roasted a 15-pound turkey, but I was only serving two people. What was I thinking?

Actually it’s a simple answer.

Before Thanksgiving last year, our grocery store offered whole turkeys at $0.37 per pound if you bought $35 worth of groceries. I had to take them up on that deal, which meant that I had two turkeys in the freezer. Recently, I decided to cook one of them for guests, but they cancelled. Since I already had the turkey thawing in the fridge, I cooked it anyway. That’s the easy part: no dressing, no basting, cook until the thickest parts reach 165 degrees F. Results: a lot of food for two people.

Frozen turkeys will keep for a long time if held below zero degrees. They’re usually packed in air- and water-resistant plastic wraps that help prevent loss of quality during freezer storage. The general recommendation for freezer storage is one year, if the food has been frozen that whole time. This is a quality recommendation and not a food safety deadline.

According to the National Turkey Federation, removed bones typically reduce the weight of the turkey by 25% and my turkey was fairly true to that estimate. I weighed the bones after I cooked them down for soup and picked the meat off, and I had 3.3 pounds of “waste” (there was additional fat and moisture I couldn’t weigh) from my 15-pound turkey. We ended up with about 10 pounds of meat at around $0.50 a pound. What a deal!

The usual recommendation is to purchase one pound of turkey (on the bone) for each person served. This is geared for holiday meals with all the trimmings and to save leftovers too. With my February turkey, we had a few meals of roast turkey and then two big pots of soup. We also had lots of leftovers for sandwiches at a much better price, taste, and quality than that expensive processed turkey meat in the deli. Plus, I froze a few packages of cooked turkey for quick meals later. The recommendation for frozen cooked turkey is to eat it within three months.

The US Dietary Guidelines suggest choosing lean or low-fat meat and poultry as your protein source. Turkey is lower in fat and calories than many other foods in the protein group and can be a good choice. According to the USDA Nutrient Database, 3 ounces of whole turkey (meat only) contains 135 calories, 24 grams of protein, and only 3.26 grams of fat.

Even if you can’t get as good a price as I did, roasting your own turkey or turkey parts any time of the year can be an easy job with lots of nutritional benefits.  Why wait until Thanksgiving?

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

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