Long-time subscriber, Janet Treftz-Allen, MS, RD, just requested some new ideas for health classes that are both fun and educational. She had just finished teaching a curriculum from a free online class called "Las Veggies" (a take on Las Vegas) and wanted something new that would really teach people to make a change. They needed to do more than take a paper and check off a list to win a gift card. We've decided to share our thoughts about this process with you today, so check out the path we took below...
Take a tour through the most popular diet books, this minute, at Amazon.com. We noticed a consumer trend for health that you won't want to ignore when designing and pitching your classes: OPTIMIZE me. Everyone wants an accelerator. Something that will bring them the most results for the least amount of work. Miriam Webster defines "optimize" as, "make perfect, effective, or as functional as possible." You can understand the appeal. You optimize images for your website to make them look much more colorful, yet be a smaller file size. You optimize your business or work plans to bring in a lot of results with the least amount of effort. And you might even optimize your wardrobe so you look really great and can wear 30 different outfits with the same 4 garment pieces and 2 accessories, all the while looking 5 years younger.
Of course, if you are a professional who is evidence-based, you know that health optimization, at its core, is is both boring and crystal clear: Eat more fruits, vegetables, dried beans, whole grains and a variety of lean protein foods. Get enough calcium-rich foods, too. And get enough physical activity each day. This could also be taken to mean, "Stop eating so many cookies, toaster pastries and rich restaurant meals and put your electronics down long enough to walk vigorously for 30 minutes each day." Health, it seems, is about getting enough of the right stuff while leaving behind the bad stuff. So why does health advice keep morphing it into fads like fat-free foods, gluten-free foods, low-carb diets, and acai juice?
I bet you have seen a lot of Paleo Diet advice and tips, like, "I frosted the cake with coconut butter cream." Maybe you still hear, "I need to lose weight, so I am going to watch my carbs." Do you wince when people declare, "I don't need to worry about nutrition because I take vitamins." Or, "The guy on the TV show said...."
Here are the most popular themes for diet books right now, along with a few corresponding class ideas. Fight fire with fire!
- AMAZON title: Optimize your health
- AMAZON title: Optimal eating
- AMAZON title: Optimal diet
- What this really means: Give me a way to cheat the system. Let me do the MOST in the least amount of time.
- Class ideas: Jumpstart your day with a high-fiber breakfast, feel full faster by starting most of your meals with a salad, how to make delicious beverages with zero calories, optimize your eating plan....
Fast and easy, limited time only:
- AMAZON title: 17 days to weight loss.
- AMAZON title: 7 day diet
- AMAZON title: 17 hour diet plan.
- What this means: Give me an easy timeline. I can do this stuff for 7 days or 17 days (is 7 the magic number?) but I can't think of it forever just yet. I only want to be "grounded" for a short amount of time. I want to graduate really soon!
- Class ideas: 6 lessons to a better you, 2 things you can't grow old without, 3 weeks to healthful habits.
Special science, not ever before published:
- AMAZON title: Paleo man is the new world man
- AMAZON title: Juicing is the Bible
- AMAZON title: Wheat made my belly
- AMAZON title: Count sugar grams and forget everything else
- What this means: Let me in on a secret that I can believe. Because it is fun to talk about it
- Class ideas: Fiber's secret hideout, the power of a plant-based diet, omega-3 versus omega-6 and you, whole foods win, etc.
I just want to copy everyone:
- AMAZON title: Mediterranean diet
- AMAZON title: Eating wild
- AMAZON title: Follow us with the melting method
- What this means: "Waiter, I will have what they are having, because it sounds really cool." OR "I want to do this because I saw it on TV."
- Class ideas: What do the world's blue zones, with the most octogenarians, have in common for lifestyle habits? What do the people in the National Weight Loss Registry have in common? What did the successful DASH study participants do?
- AMAZON title: How to melt away the pounds without doing a thing
- AMAZON title: Amazing plan to shed pounds
- AMAZON title: How to increase your metabolism
- What this really means: I don't want to give anything up or do anything extra. Give me the magic trick!
- Class idea: Eat more (calorie density), 40 grams of fiber a day will help you shed 20 pounds, eat your vitamins, make a healthy plate...
And finally, here are the 3 big ideas we offered to Jan:
Optimize Your Kitchen Style:
This is a really fun kitchen makeover class. It includes a quiz to help participants discover what they love about cooking, along with tips about how to make their kitchens easy to work in, so that they won't want to go out to eat every night. You could have a recipe contest or cooking demo during this session too.
It's All About Dessert:
Why not have a fruit dessert workshop?
You could set up stations to have the class work in groups and compete to make the most creative desserts using various fruits and other ingredients. Or you could make a cooking demo to create many mouth-watering fruit desserts?
Well, I Brought Arugula to Have Lunch with Me Today:
And here is another veggie program -- take a salad to work!
Of course, pictures are still worth a thousand words...
Did you see our new food photo bulletin boards?
This colorful vegetable bulletin board shows all of the MyPlate vegetable groups, along with serving sizes, a plate that is half-filled with fruits and veggies, and 2 easy ways to eat more veggies: salad and vegetable soup.
This fruit board is our masterpiece. See the serving sizes for fruits, various ways to enjoy fruits, and 2 gorgeous fruit desserts that will cause everyone to run to the grocery store to buy more fruit.
The MyPlate board shows just what you need to eat in a day. Each food group with the proper serving sizes is shown. Plus participants will see a healthful plate poster with an explanation of the food groups. And they can get inspired by a beautiful farmers' market vegetable basket. PLUS there is a beautiful photo example of a real plat that is balanced to look like Myplate.
Here you can see common grain food serving sizes, the anatomy and benefits of a whole grain, a plate that shows half the grains as whole PLUS photos of many whole grains. Can your students name them all?
This oil painting poster is from photo of fresh farmer's market vegetables, from 3 different vegetable color groups, that is rendered into an artistic, realistic oil painting. The posters come three to a pack so you can hoard them all for your office, give one to your boss, or, better still, give them away in a health fair contest.
Here is a MyPlate silicon bracelet that declares MyPlate on the outside while the food groups are embossed on the inside. It can help with "immersion training" where they look at healthful food groups all day!