Set the Stage for Wellness

January 9, 2017

Cute Hispanic elementary school student holding tray of cafeteria food

Studies show that children eat approximately one-third of their daily food intake while at school.

When students have the option, they are more likely to purchase foods and beverages that are high in calories, fats, and/or sugar. On the school campus these foods are called competitive foods because they compete with school meals. These options are frequently found in places such as vending machines, school stores, à la carte lines, class parties, and as fundraisers.

Setting the stage requires wellness policies with guides to meet standards for healthier choices. For the policies to be successful they also need widespread acceptance. From the people who implement the policy to those who are impacted by it, success has the greatest potential when the following actions are taken:

  1. Involve everyone in the process, including the creation and implementation of the policies. If you don’t have a Student Advisory Group (SAG), it can be very helpful to create one. SAG can conduct surveys with peers to obtain constructive feedback.
  2. Instead of “reinventing the wheel,” learn from the lessons learned by others. See the January 11th issue of the WOWS Newsletter for helpful resources.
  3. Through marketing and nutrition education, create an interest in wellness. The Healthy Kids Challenge Explore MyPlate With School Nutrition Guidebook is an easy-to-use guide with tips and tools for school nutrition services managers and wellness teams! Action ideas are designed to increase participation through marketing and promotion and help meet the HealthierUS School Challenge. Content includes MyPlate, trivia, bulletin boards, food science experiments to link with curriculum standards, menu planning tips, and fun ideas for youth advisory councils. The guidebook is designed for programs serving students in grades K-8.

virtual_healthy_school

In our WOWS Newsletter, we start the New Year with ideas for school and youth organizations to attain and sustain wellness resolutions. Starting with the January 4th issue and throughout the month of January, check out and share all these ideas with your colleagues.

In addition, as described below, the Centers for Disease Control has recently released a handy wellness assessment and planning tool for healthy schools. Try it out!

CDC’s New Virtual Healthy School!
This interactive tool shows you how components of the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model can be integrated into your school. Virtual classrooms are available to “visit” in grades K-2, 3-5 and 6-8. You can even visit the cafeteria, school nurse and principal to see how they are promoting a healthy school environment.

The first approach for developing successful, sustainable wellness policies is to involve people in the process…the general public and school community (parents, students, teachers, school nutrition services, physical educators, school board, school administration and school health professionals.

How Much Do We Taste?

November 28, 2016

Multi Generation Family Celebrating With Christmas Meal

The holidays are often filled with once-a-year special smells and tastes. How much do we truly taste, enjoy and appreciate? How often do we leave a table feeling satisfied instead of uncomfortably full? As educators, parents, caretakers and others with links to kids (KidLinks), one of the best ways we can help kids build healthy habits is through mindful eating. Mindful eating is being aware of what we are eating…the taste and smell…the way it feels in our mouth…and if it is pleasantly taking away the hunger and making us feel comfortably full. In our fast-paced world, we lose sight of things like whether or not we really feel full and what we are enjoying.

Encourage kids and families to practice mindful eating during the holidays. Slowing down, turning off our “screens” and taking smart portions are the beginning of being in tune with what we are eating. Try this mindful eating experiment yourself. Get a small piece of soft chocolate that is at room temperature. Cut the chocolate in two. Hold your nose and put one piece of chocolate in your mouth. Determine the taste and feel of it. Now for the second piece of chocolate, release your nose and take some time to pay attention to the taste and feel of it. The look, smell, texture and temperature of foods all impact how we enjoy what we eat.

Small boy and his sister cooking in the kitchen

Let’s review what we know about the benefits of kids in the kitchen. It is a way to:

  • Start the conversation and help kids develop skills, like healthy meal planning, shopping, cooking and clean-up that last a lifetime.
  • Help them feel good about themselves; the delight and pride in making something themselves.
  • Become aware of what to look for on nutrition labels.
  • Learn about food safety.
  • Help them discover the appeal and taste of foods they prepare.

Beyond those great benefits, it is a way to build appeal for healthier choices. It is not hard to imagine how using elements similar to those in art can build appeal for healthier meals. Try the following and add it to your collection of healthier holiday foods.

Blueberry-Pineapple Parfaits

  • 1 can (20 ounces) pineapple chunks, drained
  • 1 container (8 ounces) fat-free lime-flavored yogurt
  • ¾ cup fresh blueberries
  • ¾ cup fresh strawberries, chopped
  • ½ cup granola

In a small bowl, combine the pineapple with half of the yogurt. In small parfait or juice glasses, alternately layer the pineapple-yogurt mixture, blueberries, strawberries and granola. Repeat the layering twice. Top each parfait with a spoonful of yogurt.

Teachable moments:

  • Compare ingredients in the recipe for taste, texture, and color.
  • Discuss how the taste and appearance would change by substituting plain for flavored yogurt.

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!

water_1_000004417867Small(1)

Thinking about what we drink during the freezing temperatures of winter and sweltering temperatures of summer is always a clue to healthy balance.  Soft drinks, sports drinks, sweetened fruit drinks, cocoa and coffee drinks can all add up to lots of sugar in our day. Too often, we don’t think WATER.

Hear – See – Do Activity

  • First have kids list the things they drink each day and think about how much (and how often) water is a choice.
  • Suggest kids set a goal for replacing sugary beverages with water.
  • Talk about the following parent and family tips for drinking water more often:
  1. Sip water often.  Drink water throughout the day in mouthfuls instead of glasses, such as sips from a water bottle, a cup at your work desk or from a drinking fountain. Small amounts more often do the trick!
  2. Change the temperature. Drinking ice water in the winter can chill anyone! Drink lukewarm water or even water warmed in a mug with a lemon slice to increase the appeal.
  3. “Water up” before going outside. Cold, dry air can sap moisture from your nose and mouth when you are outside.  Drink water before going outside for an extended period of time to keep hydrated.
  4. Plan water for the “go to” mealtime beverage. Water at meals is a healthy habit all year, so offer water in addition to or in place of normal mealtime beverages. Water is the ultimate beverage; calorie-free and vital for life!
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