Food Packages Make Best Displays

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Betty Kenyon, Panhandle Community Services, writes, “One of the best things I have done on various subjects--weight loss, diabetes, general nutrition information, etc. -- is to use actual packages and refer to food labels. I have quite a collection of packages in my office to use as I see fit.”

For persons with diabetes, she has gathered several examples of sugar-free products. She especially likes the new Blue Bunny Ice Cream that has Splenda.

Betty has several packages from convenience foods to show high sodium content, including a new one from Lean Cuisine that is lower in sodium because it is has some potassium chloride. (we have found that you can go to and search on “meals according to sodium content.” We were surprised to find one that only had 340 mg sodium.)

Betty also uses the convenience food packages to talk about cost since she works with

Head Start parents.

She uses a soup can to illustrate how deceptive serving sizes can be since a can of soup is supposed to be two and a half servings.

Betty has quite a collection of margarine labels, including those with no trans fat, etc.

One reader made a nutrition power point lesson for 6-8th grade science classes. The nutrition lessons included activities such as:

- each student participated to check their own BMI,

- each student completed a nutrition log sheet for 3 days,

- everyone learned to read and analyze food labels.

The lessons were well recieved and appreciated by students, teachers and families.

Ardith Brunt has students put portions of cooked spaghetti onto a small plate and a large plate – in amounts that they would usually use by eye – and then measure the amounts and calcuate the difference. The result: plate size makes a difference and can have a big impact on what you eat and the calories you consume.

Laurie Barenblat read the book Seeds! Seeds! Seeds! by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace as part of a cooking class for 5-7 year olds. They really enjoyed learning about the stages of growth of a seed. They then did 2 activities done in the book – they decorated picture frames with beans and painted flower pots and planted grass in them.

Sally Swartz, MS, RD is taking produce from a community farm (CSA) to her WIC offices and sharing both the produce and recipes (sometimes samples of the dishes) with their WIC clients. Clients are then told that they can go to the farm on certain days, work an hour, and have their own grocery bag of vegetables and fruits.

Beth Marshall loves using a picnic plate as a tool for portion control. The large section is for vegetables, the 2 small sections are for starch and lean protein. This works well for those who are dieting, trying to eat balanced meals and diabetes patients. Her patients love it.

Meal makeover: In her university's main dining hall, Marya Bruning, RD, displays a typical meal and shows the calorie and nutrient breakdown. Then she shows a modified meal (usually smaller portions, more fruits and vegetables) and another nutrient analysis so students can see the difference.

Jackie Berry went around the classroom and had kids fill a clear 12-ounce soda pop bottle with the right amount of sugar. A 12-ounce soda contains 10-12 teaspoons of sugar. Sugar content is listed in "grams" on the label. Four grams equal one teaspoon of sugar. Great impact!!

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