What are Your Smart Servings?

February 13, 2017

Too many apples

For this week’s recognition of American Heart Month, the Healthy Kids Challenge WOWS Newsletter points out that we are not being heart smart when we fall for “Portion Distortion.” Bigger servings can mean too much of everything – including calories, sugar and fat – all things that can impact heart health.

“More and less” is a simple concept that many Americans can use to develop healthier habits. Let’s look at the stats to see how to apply the concept.

Need for More
We know that physical activity and eating fruits and veggies are heart healthy habits. However, recent CDC and Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 quoted “stats” show that we haven’t been making the grade:

  • Half of the total U.S. population consumed less than 1 cup of fruit and less than 1.5 cups of vegetables daily.
  • 76% of the U.S. population did not meet fruit intake recommendations, and 87% did not meet vegetable intake recommendations.
  • 51% of adults 18 years of age and over do not meet Physical Activity Guidelines for aerobic physical activity.
  • 79% of adults 18 years of age and over do not meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for both aerobic physical and muscle-strengthening activity.

Need for Less

  • In 2007-2010, Americans over-consumed added sugars and solid fats, which are high in calories.
  • Added sugars account on average for almost 270 calories, or more than 13 percent of calories per day in the U.S. population. Teens and men consume the most added sugars.
  • Solid fats consumed as part of foods or added to foods, account for more than 325 calories or more than 16 percent of calories per day, on average for the U.S. population, but provide few nutrients.

familymeal_istock_000041382064small

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.

Funny group of children are lying in the snow.

In spite of all the possible benefits of physical activity, including the potential for improving students’ concentration and attentiveness in the classroom leading to greater academic performance, students are falling short of recommendations. A 2013 CDC survey shows that only 29 percent of high school students had participated in at least the recommended 60 minutes per day of physical activity on each of the seven days before the survey.

This time of the year it can be a great win/win to calm the fidget by incorporating movement in class lessons for “brain breaks,” or as rewards!

In the classroom, try out the following, or other ideas of your choosing, to help kids move and learn.

Incorporate movement in class lessons.

  • Move and Spell:
    • Practice spelling out loud.
    • Tell kids to stand on consonants and sit on vowels.
    • Practice with holiday words in addition to the usual spelling list.
  • Move and Practice Math:
    Use the following example for multiplication or a variation for other math functions:
    • Hop the number of times for the multiplier.
    • Reach for the sky the number of times for the multiplicand.
    • Call out the product.

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.

Group Of Teenage Friends Running In Park

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recently announced new guidelines for pediatricians and parents to help teens avoid both the development of eating disorders and obesity. AAP’s recommendations include discouraging dieting, skipping meals and the use of diet pills. Instead, experts recommend promoting a positive body image by promoting a balanced diet and exercising for fitness rather than weight loss; encouraging more frequent family meals; and avoiding talking about weight all together.

Although it is something we already know, it seems that for many of us, healthy balance isn’t easily achieved. Physical activity is sometimes perceived as something that isn’t fun and healthy eating is often thought to be boring or not as tasty, and perceptions are hard to shake. So to make a change, we need to start by changing those perceptions. This month’s Healthy Kids Challenge WOWS Newsletters and blogs will focus on developing appeal for healthy balance. It starts with positive messages and role-modeling and extends to demonstrating options everywhere kids go and finally, helping students and families set goals for practicing healthy habits.

Whenever possible, Healthy Kids Challenge demonstrates how to make the connection between healthy eating and physical activity for healthy balance. In the first October newsletter, suggestions are made to use role-modeling…connecting athletes and coaches to nutrition education.

School Wellness Success

August 10, 2016

Gym Class

As outlined by CDC, there are many benefits to school wellness! However, sometimes the benefits get lost in misunderstanding and interpretations! Communication is a key to getting everyone on board for successful change. Develop simple consistent messages of the links between physical activity, healthy eating, health and academic success. Healthy kids feel and learn better!

Identify opportunities for community partners to express their support. Not only will community partners add credibility to the changes proposed, they can also enhance communication through their networks.

Seek ways for families to participate in decision making and express their concerns. Develop trust through two way conversations. For example, at parent-teacher conferences share (on a bulletin board, or provide as a handout) a healthy snacks list and invite feedback.

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