Healthy Heart Teaching Ideas

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Jennifer Raymond, MS, RD teaches quick and easy cooking. Some of her favorite dishes include tacos with Boca Burgers, Aztec bean salad, black bean dip and burritos made with instant bean flakes and salsa and instant Spanish rice.

Karen DiPietro, RD, CNSD does a Cardiac Cafe where patients prepare heart healthy recipes (theirs or Karen’s) and then bring in the prepared dish which serves 4. Karen passes out a booklet with all the recipes in it a couple days later. Patients get good ideas and Karen says patients. recipe choices are starting to be vegetarian instead of just chicken and turkey.

Sharon Hoelscher Day, CFCS put together a system of glass vials (the kind sold by medical supply houses for holding blood samples) that contain different amounts of shortening (which was melted and poured in). The vials are stored upright and cool so the fat stays level. Tubes are labeled according to the food they represent and have velcro on one side to be secured to a velcro board. They compare donuts or eggs and chorizo to cereal with skim milk, see how much fat is in ice cream bars, compare fast foods, etc...

Beth Holthausen, MS, RD, LD tells her patients they could do three things to keep her out of a job: don’t smoke, exercise and increase vegetable consumption. Beth tells patients her own story about keeping weight off- how she cancelled the morning newspaper so she would use the Nordic Trac first thing in the morning when she was motivated, rather than read the newspaper. Other tips: Beth sends a personal letter to the patient and invites the significant other or the cook to come. She utilizes NIH free copy-ready series brochures on heart healthy messages (, refers patients for emotional support to TOPS (800-932-TOPS) and Overeaters Anonymous (505-891-2664). Beth also provides a local restaurant list of heart healthy choices. Quarterly parties for patients who have improved lipid profiles are given to recognize the patients’ achievements and keep staff motivated.

Sandy Parker, RD, CDE knows that the way to her patients hearts is through their stomachs! She prepares 10-15 dishes that have varying themes through the year: Great Grilling and Summer Sensations, Fall Comfort Food, Festive Food for Holiday Happenings, Chocolate Lovers Only and more.

Carol Coughlin, RD, Consulting Dietitian, promotes healthy vegetarian hearts and says, “teaching cooking classes is an essential part of my nutrition practice. I think it is wholly unfair to tell a client what to do, and then not show him how to do it.” Favorite recipes for cooking classes include: Beans and Pasta, Easy Soups and Lowfat Chocolate Cakes while fake meats are her favorite foods to let clients taste. Carol’s supermarket tips include: pick 1 aisle per week and notice new things to eat; shop backwards and notice

healthy items. Carol teaches successful eating out: search the menu and get ingredients from other dishes or better yet, call ahead. Her favorite chain restaurant is TGIFridays which now has carrots next to their vegetarian items.

Stephanie Taylor, RD, LD has a library of local menus and has attendees practice role playing. She tells stories of successful patients to motivate others.

Robyn DeBell, MS, RD, has used an unusual visual to demonstrate the fat in food. She makes drinking oil from a solution of apple juice, water and a touch of gelatin to duplicate the viscosity of oil. She discusses a day’s intake with high fat items in each meal in front of the audience - measuring out the amount of oil into a glass as she talks. When finished, she chugs the oil and everyone is grossed out. That is a good time to discuss how your body reacts when it gets this much fat in a meal.

Fran Oppenheimer, MS, RD posts a Recipe of the Month in the gym, along with a topic of the month. Her patients form social groups to exercise and lunch together.

Sharon Grace, RN creates a grocery store in her cardiac rehab classroom and uses it to educate patients about healthier foods and reading labels. She encourages patients to share their tips for modifying lifestyles.

Christine Jensen, MS, RD has created visuals with shortening globs on plates representing the amount of fat in cheeseburgers with fries, pizza and other high fat foods. During class breaks, she serves brownies made with applesauce and doesn’t tell participants they’re oil free until afterwards.

Jan Turner, MS, RD has a couple good fat visuals: For one, she uses the fat from the top of cooked beef and compares it to the fat from the same amount of cooked chicken. For the other, the test lab of the hospital provided plaque from an artery.

Connie Evers, MS, RD, Nutrition Consultant, has kids make a real potato head that you can eat: use toothpicks or broken spaghetti pieces, insert carrot pieces, broccoli florets, peppers, cherry tomatoes, olives, cheese chunks, etc. into a baked potato to make a funny face.

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