Fathers Hand- Nutrition Education for Male Mentors and Boys

Basil Boys!

A visual for the guys to pass around to touch, feel, and smell fresh basil!

A visual for the guys to pass around to touch, feel, and smell fresh basil!

WVU’s Human Nutrition and Foods department spearheaded a lesson within the existing program, “Fathers Hand” at the Shack Neighborhood House. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the Shack Neighborhood House, commonly known as the Shack, it is a non-profit community center for the surrounding communities of Morgantown, WV. The Shack runs programs for children, adolescents, teens, and families all year long. Throughout the school year, most programming is run after school and in the evening. In the summer time, programs are run throughout the day, as well as in the evening.

Fathers Hand is an evening program that is designed for male adult mentors and male children. Normally, Fathers Hand every 1st, 2nd, and 4th Thursday of the month from 6pm-8pm. Since April is “Child and Family Awareness Month”, the Shack thought it would be nice to have Fathers Hand every Thursday this month, instead. Fathers Hand is an open program to increase male bonding and expose these men and young men, to anything and everything new that they normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to experience without the help from the Shack.

Well, tonight marked our second lesson and had an emphasis on fruits and vegetables, incorporating the use of container gardens. I developed the lesson plans for the 3 weeks of content for the program, as well as creating handouts, recipes, instructions for activities, and purchased the groceries. Within the lesson, a dinner/meal is included so, we try to always make something for the participants that’s easy to make AND healthy as well. WVU Student Dietetic Association (SDA) volunteers to help cook the meals each lesson. This way, participants are encouraged to try to make these meals outside of the Shack, within their home environment.

Tonight, the lesson consisted of information about how many servings of fruits and vegetables that everyone should be eating. The participants learned the concept of “5-A-Day”, which refers to eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. The theme of tonight’s lesson was BASIL! The activity was making container basil gardens out of plastic cups. This will serve as a “starter” garden for all the guys, adults included. Both recipes that the participants were served, contained basil and were made with healthy ingredients, which the participants received recipe handouts on as well.

The participants were educated on the MyPlate, using a poster, and focusing on fruits and vegetables. The lesson focused on fruit and vegetable identification, so fresh basil was passed around as a visual for everyone to touch, feel, and smell. The incorporation of fruits and vegetables that were unfamiliar like heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, avocados, and mangoes was another visual for the participants. The lesson was geared towards green leafy vegetables but, also incorporated “new” and unfamiliar produce which we aim to accomplish overall to teach everyone food identification skills that they could use all year long! 

Shack Neighborhood House

The beginning of the basil, tomato, and zucchini casserole!

The beginning of the basil, tomato, and zucchini casserole!

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basil garden

A variety of heirloom tomatoes to show the participants that veggies come in different colors, you wouldn't think of!

A variety of heirloom tomatoes to show the participants that veggies come in different colors, you wouldn’t think of!

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The Dirty Dozen

Dirty Dozen

There has, and probably always will be, a debate as to whether consumers should purchase organic versus traditionally grown food sources. And I really didn’t think too much about the topic until I took an Agricultural Values and Ethics class my last year as an undergraduate, as a capstone requirement. Ever since then, I really have become aware of how information can really change how a consumer shops for groceries for their family.

This being said… I came across a term, “The Dirty Dozen”, in several articles about organic food versus traditionally grown food.

Every year, the Environmental Working Group releases a Shopper’s Guide. The guide has information on 45 different conventional fruits and vegetables and their pesticide loads. At the top of the list- the produce found to contain the highest amount of pesticides: is the Dirty Dozen. These are the 12 foods that they recommend consumers always purchase in their organic form. This Shopper’s Guide is based on the EWG’s analysis of pesticide residue testing data from the USDA and the FDA.

Then, on the bottom of the list, are the Clean Fifteen. These are 15 foods that have the lowest pesticide residue. If you’re on a limited budget and have to pick and choose your organic produce, the EWG encourages that you spend the extra money for the Dirty Dozen in their organic form and buy the Clean Fifteen in their conventional form.

Now that I’ve provided the education and substantial background on these organic-friendly foods, don’t get confused as to why I chose not to mention anything based on my opinion in this post. I personally, have different views about organic versus tradition foods. And again, I personally, will go out of my way to avoid purchasing organic foods. But, I’m not here to convince anyone to agree or disagree with my opinions. I’m here to provide nutritionally beneficial education to the public. And I hope I’m achieving this goal more and more as my ISPP Dietetic Internship, and future career as a Registered Dietitian, continue.

St. Louis Fox News

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dd 2011

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Chain Restaurants Impact on Kids’ Meals and their Health

Kids Meals Get an “F” in Nutrition at Chain Restaurants

Nearly all of the meal possibilities offered to kids at America’s top chain restaurants are of poor nutritional quality. A report released today found that fried chicken fingers, burgers, French fries, and sugar drinks continue to dominate kids’ meal setting, with 97% of the nearly 3,500 meal possibilities not meeting CSPI‘s nutrition criteria for 4- to 8-year-olds.

And if you don’t believe CSPI, ask the National Restaurant Association (NRA): 91% of kids’ meals at America’s major chains do not even meet the nutritional standards of the industry lobbying group’s Kids LiveWell program.

One out of every three American children is overweight or obese, but it’s as if the chain restaurant industries didn’t get the message. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) released “Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention” and addressed these health concerns for further research and studies to use in the fight against childhood obesity.

Two-thirds of adults and almost one-third of children in the United States are overweight or obese, representing young and old, urban and rural, and majority and minority populations. This epidemic of excess weight is associated with major causes of chronic disease, disability, and death. Obesity-related illness is estimated to carry an annual cost of $190.2 billion.

Most chains seem stuck in this time warp, serving the same dated meals based on chicken nuggets, burgers, macaroni and cheese, fries, and soda. I know that they can come up with healthier, cost-effective, nutritionally beneficial meals that are more current than these.

One chain that has gotten the message is Subway. All eight of Subway restaurants’ Fresh Fit for Kids meal combinations met CSPI’s nutrition criteria. Subway is the only restaurant chain that does not offer sugar drinks as an option with its kids’ meals, instead including low-fat milk or bottled water along with apple slices with all of its kid-sized subs.

“Our goal has always been to provide the most nutritious, balanced kids meals in the industry and we are proud to be recognized by CSPI for achieving that goal,” said Lanette Kovachi, corporate dietitian for the Subway brand.

To meet the CSPI’s nutrition criteria, kids’ meals must be at or below 430 calories, no more than 35% of calories from fat, or no more than 10% of calories from saturated plus trans-fat. Meals that meet CSPI’s criteria cannot have more than 35% added sugars by weight or more than 770mg. of sodium. The criteria require meals to make a proactive nutritional impact either by providing at least half a serving of fruit or vegetable, including an item that is 51% or more whole grain, or including specified levels of vitamins or fiber. CSPI’s criteria exclude sugar drinks in favor of water, juice, or low-fat milk. The NRA’s standards are quite similar, though they allow more calories.

Here are some of the least healthy kids’ meals available at chain restaurants:

–        Applebee’s Grilled Cheese on Sourdough with Fries and 2% Chocolate Milk has 1,210 calories with 62g of total fat (46% of kcal), 21g of saturated fat (16%), and 2,340mg. of sodium. That meal has nearly three times as many calories, and three times as much sodium, as CSPI’s criteria for four-to eight-year-olds allow.

–        Chili’s Pepperoni Pizza with Homestyle Fries and Soda has 1,010 calories, 45g of total fat (40% of kcal), 18g of saturated fat (16% of kcal, and about as much saturated fat as an adult should consume in an entire day), and 2,020mg. of sodium.

–        Denny’s Jr. Cheeseburger and French Fries has 980 calories, 55g of total fat (50% of kcal), 20g of saturated fat (18%) and 1,110mg. of sodium. Denny’s does not include beverages with kids’ meals.

–        Ruby Tuesday’s Mac ‘n Cheese, White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes, and Fruit Punch has 860 calories, 46g of total fat (48% of kcal) and 1,730mg. of sodium. Ruby Tuesday’s does not disclose saturated or trans-fat content on its menus or website.

–        Dairy Queen’s Chicken Strips, Kids’ Fries, Sauce, Arctic Rush (a Slushee-type frozen drink) and Dilly Bar has 1,030 calories, 45g of total fat (39% of kcal), 15g of saturated fat (13% of calories), and 1,730mg of sodium.

At 19 chain restaurants reported on, not a single possible combination of the items offered for children met the CSPI’s nutrition standards. Out of these restaurants, 9 (that included McDonald’s Popeye’s, Chipotle, and Hardee’s) not a single kids’ meal met the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell standards. At Wendy’s, only 5% of 40 possible kids’ meals met the CSPI’s standards. Most of these items were either too high in sodium or saturated fat. At Burger King, just 20% of the 15 possible kids’ meals met CSPI’s criteria.

The last time the CSPI reviewed the nutritional quality of kids’ meals at chain restaurants, in 2008, it is reported that these restaurants have made little progress. In 2008, just 1% of kids’ meals met the CSPI nutrition standards, compared to only 3% in 2012. Only one-third of the chains had at least 1 meal that met the nutritional standards in 2008. This number scaled to 44% in 2012- good, but not great improvement.

While the CSPI report recommends that companies consider several changes, it also encourages the chains to participate in the NRA’s Kids LiveWell program. For these restaurants to do so, they would need to restructure their kids’ meals to meet these standards. The bottom line is that these restaurants should offer more fruits and veggies, and to offer these fresh options as an alternative side to French fries. Whole grains should be offered more, as well as removing soda or other sugar sweetened beverages from the kids’ menus. And just because Subway was the only chain restaurant to meet CSPI’s criteria for all kids’ meals, it should increase the whole grain content of its breads and continue to lower sodium.

The long-term problem I see in this article is that the chain restaurant industry is conditioning children to accept a really narrow range of food options. More chains are adding fruits and veggies at this point, but realistically- a lot more could offer these options. And given the childhood obesity epidemic that America is currently attempting at combating- you would think that more restaurants would want to take action in the health of their future consumers.

CBS News Clip

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This is a standard Subway Kids’ Meal option

Nutrition Myth Busters

Nutrition Myth Busters

I stumbled across a clip from Fox News on nutrition myths. The news station put into perspective how consumers seem to be confused about what’s really healthy versus unhealthy.

For a professional opinion, the show brought on Elizabeth Ward, RD to play their version of Myth Busters for all those consumers who thought they were grocery shopping the “right” way. Elizabeth Ward is not only a RD, but also the author of “MyPlate for Moms: How to Feed Yourself and Your Family Better”. So, the host and guest host addressed 4 commonly thought myths from consumers across the country.

Myth 1: All white foods are bad.

  • A common misconception is that consumers should avoid all white and tan colored foods.
  • Consumers focus so much on bright colored fruits and vegetables, and apprehensively shy away from white colored foods.
  • Consumers assume that they should avoid all white carbs because of their bad reputation.
  • The standard is 3 servings/day of whole grains
  • People need to understand that the key to a healthy diet is a balanced diet.
  • There are white foods that consumers do not need to be afraid of! If they’re looking for those phytochemicals that are in all those bright, colorful veggies- there’s no need to stray away.
  • Here are some white colored fruits and veggies to think about: cauliflower, mushrooms, bananas, dates, garlic, ginger, jicama, kohlrabi, onions, parsnips, shallots, turnips, and white corn. These foods also include those important phytochemicals that are in brighter colored produce.

Myth 2: All canned fruits and vegetables are bad.

  • Most consumers assume that canned fruits and vegetables are unhealthy. This is not true.
  • Elizabeth reminds viewers that not all canned fruits and vegetables are created equally.
  • Consumers need to look for labels that read:
  1. No added salt
  2. No added sugar, or
  3. Low sodium
  • Canned fruits and vegetables are picked at ripeness. The canning process actually preserves the nutritional value in these foods. And this is especially important in those cold winter months when your favorite produce isn’t in season.
  • The important issue here is READING the LABELS on your canned foods (as mentioned above)
  • Elizabeth Ward also reminds viewers that fruit cups in water or 100% juice is another form of a healthier canned food item.

Myth 3: Eggs are as healthy as cigarettes.

  • This statement was based on an observational study done by scientists. It wasn’t based on a cause and effect study. So, that alone implies biased reasoning.
  • According to Harvard’s School of Public Health, a healthy person can eat 1 egg per day.
  • I think that the uproar about this is the fact that yolk has a bad reputation, concerning cholesterol levels.
  • But, our RD on-hand explains that yolks consist of 90% of an egg’s nutritional value.

Myth 4: You lose weight by only exercising.  

  • A lot of consumers believe that they can eat whatever they want and just workout a little bit longer, and the weight will just shed off of them. This isn’t true either!
  • Studies have shown that shorter exercises and cutting back on calories will result in more weight loss and for the long-run.
  • Harder workouts aren’t acknowledged as longitudinal, compared to shorter, more frequent workouts
  • And of course, cutting back on calories is definitely a major component in weight loss. Ridding unnecessary calories from your typical diet is the key to success.
  • Again, the concept of moderation is stressed here again. Everything that a healthy person does to their body or consumes in their body should be in moderation. Physical exertion and calories included.

http://www.myfoxboston.com/category/233810/fox-25-morning-news

The School Lunch Box Makeover

Lunch Box Makeover

Giving your child a nutritious lunch means more than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in a brown paper bag or Sloppy Joes in the cafeteria. Nowadays, thanks to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act signed into law by President Barack Obama and championed by First Lady Michelle Obama as part of her Let’sMove! initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation, schools are required to renovate their menus. This means more nutritious foods this school year because the standards went into effect July 1st.

That standards mandate that calories and portion size are aligned with children’s ages. Students will be offered fruits and veggies and only fat-free or low-fat milk every day of the week. There will be more whole-grain-rich foods. Saturated and trans fats, sugars and sodium will be limited.

Taking the Healthy Kids Act a step further, it is possible to incorporate these guidelines into make-at-home school lunches.

To provide children with a balanced meal during their scheduled lunch incorporating these food groups in your child’s diet:

–          Veggies

–          Fruits

–          Whole grains

–          1% milk or low-fat milk

–          Proteins (meats and beans)

A better alternative for typical lunch meat, you could consider making your own chicken salad or tuna salad sandwich with low-fat or light mayonnaise. Pre-packaged foods are typically high in sodium, refined sugar and saturated fat with low nutritional value.

Looking at the lunch box as a whole can help too. Substituting fruit and veggies for a sweet side could be a step in the right direction. Or even a smaller step, like packing 1-2 Oreos instead of 3-4 with a handful of grapes.

The key that a lot of teachers and healthcare workers are trying to emphasize to children is moderation. Setting an example is essential when dealing with younger children. When they see you loading up your plate with veggies for dinner and having fruit for dessert, they will follow suit. Limit the sugar-laden treats in the house. Parents can take the kids shopping so they can help choose their lunches. Then they can have them help prepare the meals.

As for drinks, schools are replacing full-fat milk with 1% or lower-fat options. Children may be able to buy milk even if they bring their own lunch. Beware of relying on juice boxes. Kids could get way too many calories this way.

The important thing here is to make sure that children aren’t eating too much sugar. Excess amounts of sugar are around every corner for children. You will find them in the form of high-fructose corn syrup. Keep in mind that while 100% fruit juice is healthy, it also has a high amount of sugar. So an 8-oz. juice box or cup a day is fine but, 8 glasses of juice  day for a thirsty child is no bueno.

Just make sure that everyone remembers two important things when it comes to healthy beverages:

–          Use 100% fruit juice

–          Juice is not a substitute for water

After-school Choices

The school day can be a long one, depending on where your children are enrolled. Sometimes, the day starts at 7:30am or 8am, so lunch can be as early as 10am. This leads to hungry kids getting off the school bus who then must wait a few more hours for a family dinner.

A good breakfast with enough protein and healthy fats is imperative for tiding your kids over until lunch. If the school allows snacks, pack a few items.

If your family is on this type of schedule, making dinner for your children much earlier could be an easy solution. The kids can join Mom and Dad for dessert when they sit down for their meal, then ensuring some quality time at the dinner table.

If it’s impossible to make multiple dinners, or the kids have after-school sports and activities, provide healthy snacks to keep energy up before dinner. Ideas include trail mix, turkey and cheese rollups, a sandwich.

For those couch-potato kids who come home and plop in front of the computer or video games, getting them up and out the door is a key. Physical activity doesn’t have to be structured. Kids can just go outside and play before dinner. Parents really have to concentrate on both physical activity and diet for their children. Balance and healthy choices are important. Since a child is always growing, limiting food intake is not necessarily a good idea. However, healthy food choices are extremely important.

Here are some easy and nutritious lunch box ideas

Main Course:

–          Turkey and cheese sandwich with lettuce

–          Chicken or tuna salad sandwich

–          Greek yogurt with fruit or nuts

–          Soup (low-sodium)

Whole Grains:

–          Bread (whole grain)

–          Crackers

–          Popcorn

–          Rice

Sides:

–          Red pepper strips

–          Cucumber strips

–          Grape tomatoes

–          Dried plums

–          Hummus and veggies

–          Low-fat cheese sticks

–          Granola bar

Send Your Child to School with a Cool Lunch Box

Recently I read a new trend of parents buying their children Bento Boxes for their lunch box. The Bento Box originates in Japan and is originally designed for meals consisting of sushi pieces, sashimi, teriyaki, salad, and condiments. If these are used in school systems, it makes putting together a selection of nutritious foods, really easy. The box is portioned off so it’s easy to pack each compartment with a variety of meats, cheeses, fruits, and veggies. And children can easily decorate their Bento Box as creative as they want too!

This is an example of how Bento Boxes can be transformed into healthy school lunch boxes for children of all ages!