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.


Meeting the Holiday Challenge

November 27, 2017

Multi Generation Family Eating Lunch At Kitchen Table

The holidays are a good time to think about what is actually a “smart serving”!

No wonder it is hard for us to recognize a “smart serving.” We’ve become aware, over the years, that portion sizes have grown in restaurants and by manufacturers but may not recognize all of the ways they have become a “new normal.”

Think about it. Automobile manufacturers have expanded the size of cup holders to accommodate larger sizes of drinks. Our plates and other dishes are larger than those of years ago. Even in classic cookbooks, recipe servings have increased. When it comes to holiday comfort foods and goodies, it seems that too often we develop an attitude of all things go. And too often, around the New Year, we begin to regret it.

Using the following tips, it is possible to enjoy those holiday foods and develop healthier holiday habits:

  • Offer fruits and/or vegetables every time food is served. The fiber, volume and lower caloric density of these foods help to fill you up.
  • Cut desserts in half or serve in small portions.
  • Eat slowly and recognize feelings of fullness. Stop when feeling pleasantly full instead of uncomfortably full.
  • Rather than skipping meals, choose to eat them on a regular schedule.
  • Put food on a plate so you recognize how much you are eating.

The following recipe from The American Diabetes Association is an example of a portion controlled, festive holiday snack or side dish.

Caprese Kabobs


  • 18 bamboo mini forks or small skewers
  • 18 grape tomatoes
  • 18 small basil leaves, folded in half
  • 18 fresh mozzarella balls (1/4 ounce each)


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar


  • Place 1 grape tomato, 1 basil leaf, and 1 mozzarella ball on each bamboo fork/skewer. Repeat this process for 18 kabobs. Place the kabobs on a serving platter.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Right before serving, pour the dressing over the kabobs to coat evenly.

Discover smart servings for healthier eating habits with a Smart Servings Challenge!Healthy Kids Challenge helps kids eat, move, and enjoy healthy balance

Size Up Your Servings

Here’s a fun exercise to see how you measure up when it comes to serving size, sugar and fat.

  1. Make a list of the top 10 foods you eat most often.
  2. Fill in the amount recommended as a serving by MyPlate.
  3. Look at labels for each of the foods listed and place checkmarks by foods with a higher percentage of fat or sugar (generally foods that list fat or sugar as one of the first five ingredients on the label have a high percentage of fat or sugar).
  4. Place a check mark by the foods that you need to watch your serving size.

Challenge yourself to eat these foods in smaller servings and/or less often.

Feel free to access the entire Smart Servings resource in the HKC-CIGNA Healthy Balance Toolkit.

You might also want to download and use this free tip sheet called Make Healthy Enjoyable. We really need to keep the fun in health, too!

Serving size

Image by CaptQuirk via Flickr

Smart Servings is one of the HKC Healthy6 messages, and matches up with the MyPlate key messages teaching kids to balance their calories. Teach Smart Servings to kids using this Smart Servings Balancer Choices lesson. Utilize MyPlate and real paper plates to help kids hear, see, and practice the lesson.

Smart Servings Balancer Choices (Lesson 4: Grades 3-5, Balance My Day)

Outcomes: This lesson meets HECAT Standards 1.3, 1.5. 1.11, 7.6, 7.7

Materials: paper plates, 1 1/2 decks of cards, 5 tennis balls, food labels


1. Point out that serving sizes are identified in both weight and volume measures.

2. Look at recommended MyPlate food group servings and distinguish weight and volume measures. As possible, use cup measures and a weight scale as visuals.

3. Use every day items to compare 5 ounces of Protein to 5 cups of Fruits and Vegetables. The numbers are the same, but 5 ounces of Protein is the same volume as about 1 1/2 decks of cards vs. 5 cups of Fruits and Vegetables, which is comparable in size to 5 tennis balls.

4. Look at miscellaneous food labels and determine if serving size is given as a weight or volume measure, or a “per each.”

Move and Learn:

Pre-prep: Count enough paper plates so there is 1 per student. Label the plates on one side with one of the 5 major MyPlate food groups and on the other side the average number of daily servings for a 9-13 y.o.: 6 Grains, 2 1/2 cups Vegetables, 1 1/2 cups Fruits, 3 Dairy, 5 ounces Protein.

  • Pass out paper plates, 1 per student.
  • Have kids take a plate, toss it “Frisbee-style”; then randomly pick up another plate and toss. Continue until asked to stop.
  • Upon stopping, ask kids to pick up any plate, and pair off with another student.
  • Have each student look at the food group side of their plate and quiz the other person for the number of daily servings in that group.
  • Repeat the tossing activity.
  • To conclude, ask kids to place their plates, according to major food groups, in an imaginary MyPlate shape. With the food group sides up, ask kids if they can recall the number of recommended servings.

Eat in moderation by choosing Smart Servings for a healthy plate (all 5 major MyPlate groups) and less of foods high in fat and added sugar. Choosing foods with plenty of fiber, like fruits and veggies can help us keep from overeating.

These are just 2 parts of Lesson 4 –  the lesson activity and the Move and Learn activity from p. 105 in grades 3-5 Balance My Day Nutrition Education Curriculum. The worksheet, teacher resource, student assessment, discussion points and questions, and answer key are available for your review, along with school nutrition services and Taste and Learn activities supporting this lesson. Learn more about the Balance My Day Nutrition Education Curriculum.

Next week part 2 is about teaching the fruits and vegetables groups using MyPlate and the Healthy6 message: Fruits & Veggies Every Day the Tasty Way. Join us!

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