Virtually or in-person, kids across the country are heading back to school. This is usually the time of year when parents and caregivers resolve to pack healthy lunches, serve nutritious after-school snacks, eat dinner as a family, and start the day off right with breakfast.
Like new year’s resolutions, overly ambitious back-to-school resolutions will fade quickly. And this year, more than ever, we need to keep things simple. People have enough to worry about with COVID-19.
When I think of simple, I think of MyPlate. With this in mind, I went to the Start Simple with MyPlate section of ChooseMyPlate.gov, looking for resources you can use in classes, social media, waiting rooms, and individual sessions. Here’s what I found, along with a couple of favorites from NutritionEducationStore.com.
- MyPlate Tips from USDA Staff: These are practical tips from real people about how they fit healthy food and movement into their busy days. Ask employees, colleagues, or clients to share their own tips, then post them on a bulletin board or social media.
- MyPlate Kids Recipe Videos: There are lots of videos on this page, but I like the five healthy snack recipe demos. They’re short and cute – kids and adults will enjoy them. Post these on social media or play them as part of a virtual class.
- MyPlate My Wins series of videos: The 40-second videos on meals, snacks, and beverages would be great for social media. The longer (3-4 minute) videos bring MyPlate to life by showing how real families find simple solutions to make healthy eating work for them. Play these in waiting areas or incorporate them into a Zoom class for parents and caregivers.
- MyPlate Kitchen Recipes: Adults and teens will learn to prepare healthy recipes with these short video food demos. Use them in an online series about eating dinner as a family and cooking at home.
- Digital MyPlate Poster and MyPlate Food Pictures: This is one of our products that you can use in so many ways. In addition to the poster, you get professional photos of real food to show food groups and portion sizes, all on a flash drive and in a downloadable digital file. Use the images on your website and social media, add them to your PowerPoint shows or anywhere you need colorful food photos.
- MyPlate Trivia Game PowerPoint Show: Everyone loves a trivia game. Use it to liven up an online class or counseling session.
Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD
Raise your hand if, when the COVID-19 shut down began, you vowed to use this time at home to do big things — like cook from scratch with only unprocessed foods every night; organize those boxes of family photos; workout twice a day; or learn a foreign language.
We had good intentions, but our goals were unrealistic, especially given that we’re in the middle of a pandemic. The news took over our lives and we had to get used to working virtually in many cases.
Chances are, your clients also set themselves up with some lofty goals, many relating to diet. When they failed to meet these unrealistic expectations, they may have thrown up their hands and quit trying. Let them know this is normal. Then help them move on with small goals for healthy eating.
This might just be the perfect time to introduce yourself and your clients to the Start Simple with MyPlate App. Free from the App Store and Google Play, this app helps you set and meet healthy eating goals that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely).
Here’s how the app works:
- Choose up to three goals per MyPlate food group. Some examples: “add vegetables to your lunch,” “have fruit for a sweet treat,” “have a whole grain at dinner,” “start your day with a protein food.” You can do this for each food group, or just pick one or two food groups to work on.
- When you meet a goal, you check it off for that day. The app lets you see your daily progress, get simple how-to tips to help you meet your goals, and select options for notifications and reminders.
- As your goals are completed, you can earn a variety of badges, like first goal complete, daily-streaks, food group badges, and the ultimate MyPlate badge.
Why we like the Start Simple with MyPlate App:
- Easy: although it’s not designed for kids, they’ll pick it up quickly and can probably teach their parents/grandparents to use it.
- Fun: the app is colorful, appealing to the eye, and fun to use.
- Uplifting: when you check off a completed goal or earn a badge, you get a little celebration on your screen. (Sounds corny, but it will make you smile.)
- Flexible: you can change your goals at any time.
- Educational: users can learn more about MyPlate by clicking on the MyPlate 101 section.
- Basic: the goals are simple enough for anyone to do.
- Maintainable: when the world is overwhelming, this app helps you make a small change that you’ll be able to maintain.
- Shareable: when you earn a badge, you can share this success on social media. This may encourage others to join you.
- Challenging: there are built-in challenges for each season, providing a sense of competition and something larger to work toward for those who want it.
Tips for using the Start Simple with MyPlate App with your clients:
Check out our new and popular MyPlate materials:
While everyone is prepping for the holidays, it’s time for nutrition and health educators to think about what comes next – New Year’s resolutions.
Year after year, people make – and fail to keep – diet-related resolutions. They usually vow to completely change how they eat, often by following a fad diet that is overly restrictive, thus setting themselves up for failure by February.
How can we set them up for success in 2020? By showing people how to make diet resolutions that are simple, science-based, and realistic. Diet resolutions they can keep for life! And we think MyPlate is the perfect place to start.
As a MyPlate National Strategic Partner, we’re proud to offer an amazing collection of MyPlate posters and other materials. Here are two that you can use to start a conversation about New Year’s resolutions:
- The Healthy Plate poster is unique and sure to get people’s attention! Instead of the traditional MyPlate graphic, it uses beautiful illustrations to show the MyPlate concept. And it comes with a downloadable handout that has the traditional MyPlate graphic with tips on one side and a quiz on the other side.
- Our MyPlate Photo poster includes the MyPlate graphic along with photographs of real food for each group. It also comes with a downloadable handout full of tips.
Just in time for the new year, USDA is launching Start Simple with MyPlate. This new campaign has some great resources to help with MyPlate-style New Year’s resolutions. Here are just a few of our favorites:
- MyPlate Plan: Get personalized food group targets by entering your age, sex, height, weight, and physical activity level. There’s also a Spanish version. (Note: MyPlate Plan isn’t quite perfect yet. For us, it worked fine on Chrome, but not on Safari.)
- MyPlate Plan Widget: Share MyPlate Plan with your clients and readers by embedding a widget on your website.
- MyPlate Quizzes: These online quizzes are perfect for teaching the MyPlate concept. There’s one for each food group!
- MyPlate Email Updates: Stay up-to-date on all things MyPlate by signing up at ChooseMyPlate.gov/GovDelivery.
- MyPlate App – get the link on this page and use the MyPlate app to stay on track all year!
Did you know that 90 percent of adults don’t eat the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables?* Maybe if we saw MyPlate billboards as often as we see signs for fast food or soda, this number wouldn’t be so high. Since that’s not going to happen, it’s up to us to plant the MyPlate image into everyone’s minds.
The MyPlate Start Simple poster is a great discussion-starter for helping people find simple ways to fill half of their plate with fruits and veggies, whether they’re eating at home, at a restaurant, at work, or at school.
- At home – this should be the easiest because you’re in charge. Keep lots of fruits and veggies on hand to fill up half of your plate. Bags of pre-washed baby spinach and spring mix make it easy to fix a salad every day. Stock your freezer with a variety of frozen vegetables to steam, microwave, or roast in the oven.
- At restaurants – you don’t have as much control, but checking out the menu online ahead of time can help. Look for vegetable sides and order an extra serving. If you’re getting subs or burritos, visually deconstruct them to see how they would look on a plate, then decide if you need to add an extra veggie or fruit, choose a salad instead of sandwich, or go easy on the rice.
- Packing lunch – keep that plate in mind as you put your lunch together. Pile all the veggies you can onto sandwiches. Add sides of raw veggies like baby carrots and cherry tomatoes, and a piece of fruit. Or pack lunch the easy way – leftovers from a MyPlate-friendly dinner make the perfect MyPlate lunch.
*Source: CDC (read more here).
Use this link to get 15% off all MyPlate Teaching Resources – this week only! Good through April 13, 2019
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:
- Use MyPlate as a guide when shopping for food and you’ll take home the building blocks for healthy meals.
- 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!
- Beware of misleading claims on the front of food packages.
- 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.
- With MyPlate and the Nutrition Facts label, it’s simple to build a more balanced eating pattern that will promote good health.