April 28, 2017
For National Bike Month, The League of American Bicyclists suggests you “Get Things Rolling in Your Community.” It is also a good time to “get things rolling” for the other part of healthy balance, which is healthy eating choices. Connect physical activity and healthful eating choices for health and well-being.
In the Healthy Kids Challenge WOWS Newsletter, find a classroom nutrition activity idea. On the community level, there are ways you can help to set kids up for success. How many ways can you think of now? Everywhere we live, learn, work and play, we make eating choices.
One way you can make a difference is at the concession stand. In the summertime, concession stands at ballparks, the local swimming pool and other “hangouts” for kids become significant sources for snacks. Contact administrators and volunteer to help brainstorm healthy snack suggestions to add to the concession menu. Consider bottled water, 100% juice boxes, low fat yogurt containers, low fat cheese sticks, fresh fruit, whole grain cracker packets or juice popsicles.
When asked to add healthier items, one of the first questions concessions operators raise is “If we make a change, will we lose sales?” The answer is that many concessions operators have had good success by adding healthier options.
January 9, 2017
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:
- 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.
- Instead of “reinventing the wheel,” learn from the lessons learned by others. See the January 11th issue of the WOWS Newsletter for helpful resources.
- 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.
January 3, 2017
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.
November 28, 2016
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.
November 21, 2016
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.
- 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.
- Compare ingredients in the recipe for taste, texture, and color.
- Discuss how the taste and appearance would change by substituting plain for flavored yogurt.
November 7, 2016
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.
- Identify MyPlate food groups for each ingredient. Discover which ingredient does not belong to any food group.
- 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.