Start with Small Changes

March 27, 2017

Happy family having roast chicken dinner at table

The aim of the 2017 National Nutrition Month® is to inspire everyone to start with small changes toward a healthful eating style – one forkful at a time. Choosing healthier food options is important; however, to make sure the choices become a healthy habit, it is also important to recognize other factors that cause less healthful eating.

The CDC has identified habits that may be leading some of us to overeat. Below, look at and highlight the common the eating habits that may be leading you to overeat and to weight gain.

  • Eating too fast
  • Always cleaning your plate
  • Eating when not hungry
  • Eating while standing up (may lead to eating mindlessly or too quickly)
  • Always eating dessert
  • Skipping meals (or maybe just breakfast)

The next step is finding the small changes that work for us. The CDC’s Improving Your Eating Habits suggestions include:

  • Turning off the TV – It is too easy to get distracted which results in overeating and missing out on enjoying each bite of food.
  • Supporting family members – It is easier if family members join in and encourage progress towards healthier habits.
  • Eating slowly – When eating too fast, it is hard to tell when hunger stops and feeling full begins.
  • Out of the package and on to the plate – Studies show we eat much more when snacking out of a multi-serving bag or a box.
  • Set times for snacks – There is nothing wrong with a planned healthy snack. Without set snack times, there is a tendency to eat when bored.

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.

How Much Do We Taste?

November 28, 2016

Multi Generation Family Celebrating With Christmas Meal

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.

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!

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.

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