Father and son preparing food in kitchen

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), just one in 10 adults meets the federal fruit or vegetable recommendations. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables daily can help reduce the risk of many leading causes of illness and death, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and obesity. Depending on age and gender, it is recommended that adults eat at least 1½ to 2 cups per day of fruit and 2 to 3 cups per day of vegetables. By age group, young adults 18-30 years old accounted for the lowest proportion of persons meeting recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake (9.2% and 6.7%, respectively). The CDC has 10 strategies to increase intake that includes established policies to incorporate fruit and vegetable activities into schools.

In the HKC Curriculum, fruit and vegetable intake is a behavior referred to as the one of the “Healthy6.” The Healthy6 behaviors are built on best practice evidenced-based recommendations for healthy eating. This Healthy6 slogan is: “Fruits & Veggies Every Day the Tasty Way.” In other words, enjoy the taste of fruit and vegetables in a variety of colors.

This week’s WOWS Newsletter activity suggestion is based on another one of the Healthy6 behaviors, (choosing) “Smart Servings.” Resisting portion distortion and recognizing healthy serving sizes, cues for hunger and fullness are skills that can help kids make “Smart Serving” choices a habit.

For more information about the “Healthy6,” refer to the Healthy Kids Challenge website.

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Cute toddler boy in supermarket choosing fresh organic carrots

Knowledge of nutrition without application leads nowhere. Be a “change helper” by helping kids recognize healthy habits; inspiring positive attitudes; identifying and developing skills; and setting realistic goals. The following example identifies a healthy habit and focuses on one of a number of skills for making “Smart Servings.”

Healthy Habit Goal: Choose “Smart Servings”
An activity that targets skills for recognizing and choosing less of foods high in saturated fat and added sugar.

Ask kids to:

  1. Identify their favorite snack foods and list them on a board.
  2. Review the list and identify snacks that might be higher in fat and/or sugar.
  3. Bring in package labels or search for product nutrition facts labels online.
    – Review the labels for serving sizes and compare to typical intake.
    – Check fat and added sugar content.
    – Rank the order of foods from those highest to lowest in fat. Do the same for added sugar.
  4. Talk about strategies for lowering fat and added sugar intake (answer: smaller servings or choosing those foods less often, or making another lower fat/sugar choice).
  5. Talk about whether or not they would use those strategies to make a change. If not, identify the barriers and possible solutions.

Happy kids preparing a meal in the kitchen

This week’s WOWS Newsletter discusses the benefits of implementing a “taste and learn” activity and provides guidance for creating one. In that spirit, following is an easy-to-implement nutrition education activity designed to encourage healthy holiday choices.

  1. Talk about Snack Attack, i.e., many snack choices are filled with “empty calories.” In other words, some snacks provide a majority of calories from sugar or fat with few nutrients or health benefits. Examples: cakes, cookies, pies and pastries, doughnuts, fries, jams, syrups, jelly, sweetened fruit drinks, chips, salted snacks, candy, and soda provide lots of sugar or fat but have no or minimal vitamins, minerals, protein or fiber!
  2. Suggest kids create some healthier snack alternatives, i.e., choices we can enjoy. Because the holidays are approaching, include some with a holiday twist.
  3. There are many ways we can begin to think about choices; however, let’s begin by getting creative with ways we might make a hearty snack out of an English muffin. Set up the activity by listing potential ingredients:
    • Start with:
      • A whole grain English muffin or bagel
    • Choose a spread:
      • Peanut butter (or other nut butter)
      • Low fat cream cheese
      • Spaghetti sauce
    • Be creative with choosing a healthy topping mix such as:
      • Grated carrots and dried fruit
      • Chopped apples (sprinkled with cinnamon and softened in the microwave) and raisins
      • Chopped kiwis, strawberries and drained crushed pineapple
      • Chopped bananas and a sprinkle (1 tsp.) of mini chocolate chips
      • Sliced peaches and blueberries
      • Mozzarella cheese and shredded ham
      • Mozzarella cheese, chopped green pepper and tomatoes
      • Thinly sliced cucumbers and shredded ham (toss ham with small amount of low fat dressing)
      • Sliced hardboiled egg and shredded low fat cheese
  4. Create a list of the ideas generated and encourage kids try them with the help of their family.

Kindergarten children eating lunch

The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP) resource HEALTH AND ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT makes it clear that healthy eating and physical activity are linked to academic achievement. This means it is very much worth ensuring that we take the time to make it the most effective.

The Healthy Kids Challenge curriculum foundation has set the stage with learning theories and evidence based content for the greatest success. The content is built on the foundation of six healthy habit messages: daily physical activity and choosing breakfast, fruits and vegetables, healthy snacks, right-size portions, and healthy beverages. The curriculum meets standards recommended by the CDC HECAT (Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool). Hands-on learning activities are designed to build skills for making healthy choices. The following appealing messages are repeated in different ways:

  • Active Play, Balance My Day
  • Breakfast GO Power
  • Drink Think
  • Fruits & Veggies – Every Day the Tasty Way
  • Smart Servings
  • Snack Attack

Along with building skills for making healthy choices, we help educators set kids up for success by creating settings that support healthier choices. For some time, research has supported healthier environments. The USDA Local School Wellness Policy requirements are one way healthier environments are supporting kids.

Friends in summer

Teachers, youth leaders and teams find HKC wellness approaches and action ideas effective and easy to use. They report that the HKC tools provide great new strategies for teaching core curriculum. One of the successful strategies is repetition of healthy habit messages using the Healthy6.

Six healthy eat, move and enjoy balance life step goals relate to eating and physical activity components identified by the Centers for Disease Control and National Health Education Standards. Hands-on lessons develop positive attitudes and practical skills for healthy choices.

The creation of a summertime journal, as discussed in this month’s newsletters and blogs, incorporates a number of hands-on lessons and personalizes learning. As kids work on the journal, they are helped to understand that healthy habits don’t just happen. They are the result of practicing…another way of saying it is “be the change you want to see” until it becomes a habit.

Goal setting and “challenges” to motivate and measure progress is one way to personalize learning. For example:

  • First, determine how many fruits and vegetables you are eating each day and how that compares to a healthy intake (see ChooseMyPlate.gov for recommendations). Then, create a fruits and vegetables goal towards a healthy intake. Such as, eat one more fruit or vegetable each day. Then set a “challenge” to achieve that goal every day for the next week. On a calendar, record the number of fruits and/or vegetables eaten each day. For each day the goal was reached, place a star on the calendar.
  • Use the same plan to set a goal and a “challenge” for more minutes of physical activity in the day.

National Nutrition Month

February 20, 2017

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Next month is National Nutrition® Month. If you haven’t had time to plan and implement the suggestions provided in each of the February WOWS Newsletters for American Heart Month, there is good news. All of the “mini lessons” are appropriate to use during National Nutrition Month, too.

To summarize last month’s Healthy Kids Challenge Newsletter and Blog content:

  1. Ideas to create awareness of the importance of making choices for a healthier heart.
  2. Talking points and “mini lesson” ideas for each of the Healthy6 Habits that contribute to healthier hearts.
  3. Tips for healthy Valentine’s Day parties.
  4. Actions for practices, policies and environments that support choices for healthy hearts.

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)

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