Here are directions for a very clever contest that can be conducted in most cafeterias.
Guess the Calories in the Cafeteria Contest – By Karen Buch RD, LDN:
1. Build 3 trays of completely different food and beverage selections.
2. Make one example with healthful choices, one example that makes less-healthful choices and one that is a “mystery tray” made of typical choices.
3. Make labels on toothpicks sticking out of the foods on the first 2 example plates with calorie and fat content.
4. Tally the total calorie and fat grams and write them on a paper table tent in front of the first and second trays.
5. Offer slips of paper for contest entrants to guess the total calories for the mystery tray on their entry forms. Award a prize to the person who comes closest.
(NOTE: Discard any perishable foods used for the display. Place a sign that states food is “for display purposes only.”)
Pedometer Contest – By Judy Simon, MS, RD, CD: Set up a competition between departments to track their calories burned using pedometers. Have the company provide them free of charge along with incentives such as T-shirts or water bottles.
Portion Contest – By Susan Jaffe, RD, CD: A dietetic intern at Susan’s Head Start Program just did a workshop on portion sizes for employees. She gave each individual a plastic sandwich bag and asked them to pour out what they thought was a serving of Cheerios. The winner(s) received a nutrition-related prize.
Fast Meal Contest – By Mindy Ellsworth, RD: Have a contest for favorite recipes that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less. It may also include those that can be made ahead of time for fast preparation. The recipe must meet the guidelines as set out in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The dietitian should be available to help staff modify recipes as needed. Hold a potluck in the cafeteria where staff can sample recipes and vote for their favorites. Winners are awarded prizes and copies of all recipes are given out to everyone.
Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. But after learning that the quality of a croissant directly varies with how much butter it has, Judy sought to challenge herself by coming up with recipes that were as healthy as they were tasty.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.