American Heart Month

February 6, 2017

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February is American Heart Month. The HKC Newsletter, WOWS, has been recognizing the significance of the month by connecting awareness building ideas with mini lessons to build habits for healthy hearts. HKC’s Healthy6 are the cornerstone for both our comprehensive nutrition education, Balance My Day, and the mini lesson suggestions found here.

Snack Attack “Mini Lesson”

  • Talking Points:

According to the American Heart Association, choosing less added sugar helps keep a heart healthy. Many of us are choosing much more added sugar than recommended. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans identify Food Category Sources of Added Sugars in the U.S. Population Ages 2 Years and Older as 31% coming from snacks and sweets and 47% from beverages. Limit added sugar to less than 10% of calories. (Calorie needs differ by age, gender and activity level. Choose MyPlate Checklist describes calorie needs for different age groups.)

  • Activity:

Collect and review Nutrition Facts Labels of foods that contain added sugar such as candy, cakes, cookies, fruit drinks, and soft drinks. Determine the added sugar content per serving. For visual impact, use sugar cubes or teaspoons of sugar to represent the amount of sugar in one serving. (1 sugar cube = 1 teaspoon = 4 grams)

Hearts Take the Stage

January 30, 2017

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With both Valentine’s Day and American Heart Month in February, hearts take a center stage. Heart disease is the nation’s No. 1 killer of both men and women, but recently Americans are showing improvement. Recognized theme months like this provide a great opportunity to create awareness and educate kids and families about important health issues.

Give artwork a “healthy twist” with messages that help inspire healthy balanced choices.

To enhance a nutrition curriculum, or start the practice of incorporating nutrition education into the classroom, plan opportunities for “mini lessons.” This week and next, HKC’s WOWS Newsletter has ideas to get you started. As another option, the HKC Balance My Day Curriculum is flexible for use as a comprehensive curriculum or as a series of mini lessons. The curriculum can also now be purchased as digital access only or in print + digital form.

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The CDC Healthy Schools Guideline 8 states “Provide a school employee wellness program that includes healthy eating and physical activity services for all school staff members.

The benefits of employee wellness programs are fairly well known. They can improve staff productivity, decrease employee absenteeism, and decrease employee health care costs.

While most schools are getting out the message about healthful eating and physical activity connected to healthy bodies and minds, the size and scope of full-fledged wellness programs vary widely. A sustainable comprehensive program requires the support of a wellness coordinator and/or strong wellness committee. In addition, success depends on staff motivation and participation. These things happen with good planning over time, making the case for schools without programs to start small and build momentum for a strong foundation.

HKC’s January 25th WOWS Newsletter has great suggestions for getting started and implementing new ideas in an existing program. If you are in the building momentum phase, be sure take time to reach out to the community, local health professionals and businesses for support.

Children building a snow man and having a snowball fight

Whether at home or at school, as winter vacation approaches and excitement builds, it is hard to keep kids focused. Fitting in fun “brain break” activities during this time not only helps reduce the “fidgets,” they add healthier balance to this season of ooey, gooey desserts and sweet treats!

In the classroom, or at home, this is a great time to use “brain breaks” and Active Play as a reward! This month’s WOWS Newsletters suggest “brain break” ideas that can be used anywhere.

Sports Charades

  1. Have kids develop a list of 8-10 ideas for getting more Active Play and less TV and screen time. Examples: bicycling – dancing – hitting baseballs – jumping rope – juggling/kicking a soccer ball – running/walking – serving a tennis balls – shooting hoops – skating – swimming – disc golf – hopscotch.
  2. Act out each of the ideas on the list.
  3. Record the list for future discussion about potential barriers to physical activity and achieving goals for at least an hour of Active Play most or all days.

Mix and Learn

November 7, 2016

Happy kids preparing a meal in the kitchen

When it comes to kids, cooking provides one of the best ways for learning about healthy eating without them being aware they are learning! At holiday time, simple mixes make a festive snack and can provide many teachable moments. Try it. You may like it!

If you are a classroom teacher, consider giving the following recipe to room mothers for holiday party preparation rather than having the kids mix it up. However, with teachable moments you can still give kids some touch, smell, taste and learn experiences!

Snack Mix Recipe

4 cups Wheat Chex cereal
4 cups Cheerios
2 cups mini pretzels
6 cups packaged popcorn
1 cup pumpkin seeds (optional)
1 cup dried fruit (such as cran-raisin)
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients. Makes approximately 25-¾ cup servings.

Note: Save the Nutrition Facts labels for each ingredient.

Teachable moments:

  1. Identify MyPlate food groups for each ingredient. Discover which ingredient does not belong to any food group.
  2. Look at the Nutrition Facts label and ingredient list.
    • Look at each label for the serving size. Use a measuring cup to demonstrate the size.
    • Look at each recipe ingredient for the amount of sugar it contains. (As a reference, four grams of sugar is about 1 teaspoon.) Which ingredients have the most sugar? Look at the recipe and amount of each ingredient in the recipe. Related to healthier balance, ask why the recipe has smaller amounts of dried fruit and chocolate chips than cereal.
    • Find the products with whole grain listed as a first ingredient. Point out that MyPlate encourages us to eat more whole grains.

Children Having Fun And Balancing On Tree In Fall Woodland

Let’s put the spotlight on Active Play. It is one part of the Healthy Balance equation (“Active Play” + Healthy Eating Choices = Healthy Balance). It also enhances learning, including nutrition classroom lessons. Every HKC Balance My Day Curriculum nutrition lesson has a corresponding Move and Learn activity. The following activity demonstrates how Active Play can be integrated in the classroom. This example works well for Pre-K to 2nd Grade students. An expanded version is found in the Wellness Solutions Toolkit. For another example, see the October 26th WOWS Newsletter “Spellercise” activity.

Simon Sez, Breakfast gives GO Power!

  1. Talk with students about how eating breakfast makes learning easier and helps kids feel and look their best.
  2. Look at a MyPlate poster (choosemyplate.gov). Point out the different food groups and how we usually eat foods from the Grains Group at Breakfast. Talk about how we get the BEST GO Power when we choose foods from other groups to go with our Grains. Examples: CEREAL with low fat MILK and a BANANA. A whole wheat TORTILLA with low fat CHEESE and APPLE slices. Whole wheat TOAST with scrambled EGG and STRAWBERRIES.
  3. Play Simon Sez to emphasize the benefits of eating breakfast. When YES, students perform movements the leader calls out such as hop, jump, skip, or swim.
    • Simon Sez: Eating breakfast every day helps give you GO Power. (YES)
    • Simon Sez: Missing breakfast gives you GO Power. (NO)
    • Simon Sez: Eating breakfast can help make learning easier. (YES)
    • Simon Sez: Eating breakfast helps kids feel and look their best. (YES)

If you are integrating Active Play into classroom learning or in other situations now, share your ideas with others. Doing so expands opportunities for enhanced learning and healthy balance!

Elementary Pupils Collecting Healthy Lunch In Cafeteria

Actions to Make a Healthy Difference Everywhere Kids Go

Plan demonstrations of how kids (and adults) can achieve healthy balance everywhere they live learn work and play. This month’s HKC Newsletter, Wednesday WOWS, focuses on interactive demonstration activities connected to:

  • School happenings (National School Lunch Week)
  • Holiday celebrations (Halloween/Fall Festivals)
  • Health fairs
  • The classroom

And the activity ideas can be used for many different places and age groups. They have been used anywhere from libraries to zoos and for pre-school to seniors. For a staff wellness meeting, try this interactive healthy goal setting activity:

Make up puzzles with a healthy message such as “Enjoy a Walk,” “Choose a Variety of Fruit and Veggie Colors,” and “Make Smart Serving Choices.” Create one puzzle for every 4-6 people, each with a different color background to make putting the puzzle together easier. When each person comes into the room, they choose one puzzle piece. At a designated time, have participants find like colors and put their puzzle pieces together to identify the message. If time permits, have each puzzle “group” talk about the message and how they could incorporate it into their day (this activity idea is from the HKC Wellness Solutions Toolkit).

If you are on a school organization group’s wellness council, find ways to role model and include these types of activity in your yearly plans.

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