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This week’s conversation during National Nutrition Month® is to challenge you to “Put Your Best Fork Forward” when you are away from home. Whether you are making choices in restaurants, convenience stores or from vending and concession stands, we are often tempted by large portions of high fat and sugary snacks.

There are a number of choices you can make for a healthier meal that you can thoroughly enjoy. Here are some ideas to “meet the challenge.”

  • At fast food restaurants, choose the junior or smaller sandwich, share the small fries, and choose water or a small drink.
  • Going out for pizza? Enjoy the thin crust with extra veggies.
  • At “order from your table” restaurants, share an entrée or choose a smaller portion entree option if it is available. Skip the fried foods and creamy sauces. Choose salad with a light vinaigrette dressing on the side.
  • When stopping at a convenience store, stick with the small snack bags of nuts, yogurt, string cheese sticks, whole grain cereal cups, whole grain granola bars, fresh fruits and baby carrots.

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You’re invited! Mark your calendars and sign up for an inspiring March 7th webinar, Making Healthy Eating a Habit… Anywhere Kids Live, Learn, Work and Play. This one hour webinar will be presented by Vickie L. James, Registered, Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist and the creator of the award winning Healthy Kids Challenge, now an integral part of School Specialty and SPARK programs. There is no cost.

Please join us to get some simple tips and ideas for integrating nutrition education into kids’ daily world. From classroom to PE, after school and community youth programs, you’ll find SPARK nutrition education resources your “go to” guide for healthy eating for kids!

Attendees will:

  • Understand the value and need for nutrition education for kids.
  • Discover simple ways to implement nutrition education into existing curriculum and youth programs.
  • Learn “edu-tainment” tips to make nutrition education fun for kids.
  • Discover how Healthy Kids Challenge nutrition education materials available through SPARK can be a valuable guide for your teaching needs.

Learn how you can be part of the healthy solution team for child nutrition!

Highlights include answers to questions like:

  • WHERE and HOW do I teach nutrition education?
  • Where can nutrition education find a home? How to deal with the time, tools and other issues.
  • Are you equipped? Understanding quick, simple ways to teach nutrition education in an integrated approach throughout the school day, or in youth programs.

When: Tuesday, March 7th, at 5pm Pacific, 8pm Eastern *Note the special time at 5pm Pacific*

Who: Grades K-8 classroom teachers and administrators, PE specialists, health and science teachers, school food service managers, school wellness council members and after school, summer camp, and youth program teachers and staff.

Duration: 60 Minutes

Cost: Free

Sign up: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8780966321799780609

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.

What are Your Smart Servings?

February 13, 2017

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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.

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)

Hearts Take the Stage

January 30, 2017

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With both Valentine’s Day and American Heart Month in February, hearts take a center stage. Heart disease is the nation’s No. 1 killer of both men and women, but recently Americans are showing improvement. Recognized theme months like this provide a great opportunity to create awareness and educate kids and families about important health issues.

Give artwork a “healthy twist” with messages that help inspire healthy balanced choices.

To enhance a nutrition curriculum, or start the practice of incorporating nutrition education into the classroom, plan opportunities for “mini lessons.” This week and next, HKC’s WOWS Newsletter has ideas to get you started. As another option, the HKC Balance My Day Curriculum is flexible for use as a comprehensive curriculum or as a series of mini lessons. The curriculum can also now be purchased as digital access only or in print + digital form.

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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.

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