Group of happy kids running through green field

At school, physical activity is linked with academic achievement. Planning opportunities and places for kids to move more helps them achieve more. In or out-of-school physical activity balances eating choices.

Ingredients

Equal parts:

  • School Actions
  • Family Involvement
  • Community Support

Directions:

  1. Mix together classroom movement, school recess and physical education.
  2. Stir in family involvement (using activities like walking, biking, and weekly tips).
  3. Fold in community support by conducting walkability & bikeability checklists and sharing information with school and community leaders, as well as the media.
  4. Pour into policies and practices and “bake” until well set.

Note: Many communities and schools hold yearly spring walk or bike to school events, which is a great way to motivate kids to move more.

School/Community Resources include:

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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.

Build Parental Interest

April 17, 2018

Family Outing to the Grocery Store

This month’s WOWS Newsletter suggests planting a seed to create a plan for nutrition activities; it also includes tips for encouraging parental interest in healthy eating and physical activity. Use the following ideas to increase attendance at events.

  • Consider holding a raffle. Ask for a community donation and offer low-cost tickets for drawing items that offer opportunities for more active playtime such as: a bicycle, baseball, football, basketball or soccer ball, and tickets or gift certificates to water parks, miniature golf, and sporting events.
  • Involve students in a presentation or fun skit (nutrition-physical activity connected). Parents love to come see their children perform.
  • Include food – not a meal, just a tasting to control cost, or ask for community donations.
  • Offer to take and make family photos available. For the photo, have individuals hold their favorite piece of sports equipment or fruit or vegetable.
  • Advertise – promote – advertise – announce – advertise – promote – advertise – announce…

What Kids Know

April 2, 2018

Cute elementary children having lunch at school

As nutrition educators, it is always a little surprising to realize what kids know. When it comes to healthy eating, sometimes they “know” more than we think they do, and other times they can be “pretty far off base.” Nutrition misinformation and sensationalized studies can make it confusing for all of us. The frequent new “this or that” diets or recommendations make it even more important for nutrition education to help kids:

1. Understand the “basics” of healthy eating choices and how to use tools like MyPlate.

2. Understand how to identify healthy habits and the skills needed for balanced choices.

3. Adopt positive attitudes and build skills for healthy habits:

  • Develop cooking skills to:
    • Learn how healthier foods can be tasty choices
    • Experience the difference “colorful” plates can make
    • Develop more variety of food choices
  • Understand how all foods can fit in a diet with healthy choices
  • Find enjoyable ways to balance eating intake with physical activity

4. Help to make healthier options from which to choose available.

A recent WOWS Newsletter thought for the week is from Henry J. Kaiser: “Find a need and fill it.” We know there is a need; let’s fill it one step at a time.

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.

Elementary Pupils And Teacher Eating Lunch

March is National Nutrition Month®, and the 2018 slogan is “Go Further with Food.” This month is the perfect time to go further with support for healthier habits. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has ideas to celebrate the month; Healthy Kids Challenge has seen success with the ideas posted for schools or workplaces. We’ve highlighted a few of those, along with some suggestions:

  1. Vote for your favorite fruits and vegetables: Offer a selection of fruits and vegetables cut into bite-size pieces. Ask participants to vote for their favorite vegetable and fruit. Post a tally board to record votes. Handout “20 Ways to Enjoy More Fruits and Vegetables.” HKC Suggestion: Start a Fruit and Veggie Challenge. Have kids tally the number of fruits and veggies they eat each day.
  2. Classroom: Ask children to carefully save empty food product labels and boxes. Spend some time reading labels and comparing information in the Nutrition Facts panels. Expand into a menu-planning opportunity, individually or in teams, using MyPlate as the guide to a healthy meal. HKC Suggestion: For a “Snack Attack” lesson, collect snack food labels. Create a pictorial graph of food from the most to the least amount of sugar or fat.
  3. Organize a health fair that promotes healthy eating resources and important preventive screenings. HKC Suggestion: Make it as interactive as possible. For example, focus on fruit and veggie resources and conduct a vote for their favorites, as suggested in #1 above.

Family At Home In Eating Meal Together

A number of smaller “bits” of healthy changes over time can add up to make a big difference. At home or at school, changing our own habits and way of thinking is just as easy as practicing small changes.

It is still common to hear parents and teachers talk about rewarding kids with sweets like ice cream or a school pizza party. The concern is not because the kids are having ice cream or pizza, which can be part of a balanced eating plan. It is the consistent use of foods (very often sweets) that is perceived as a reward by the child…a habit that can be carried through life. Each month in 2018, choose several small “bits” of change. Practice helps form healthy habits to last a lifetime.

Ideas to Start the Year

  1. Turn off whichever screen is on (TV, computer, phone) while eating at home. Instead, talk with your family members.
  2. Put snacks on a plate instead of eating from a bag or box.
  3. Use fun physical activity as a reward. Anyone for miniature golf or a scavenger hunt in the park?
  4. Drink water instead of sugary beverages.
  5. Try a fruit or vegetable that you don’t usually eat.
  6. Tune up your “hunger meter.” Eat and enjoy small bites. Stop eating when you are pleasantly (instead of uncomfortably) full.
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