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When presenting a program on healthy snacks for kids, Lisa Graves, MS, RD, Consumer and Family Sciences Educator, Purdue Extension, asks the caregiver or parent to devote a section of a recipe box to each child in the family. “Work with the children to fill recipe cards with healthier snack options. The next time the children are hungry for a snack you will have ideas that you know are nutritious and that each child will enjoy!”

Madalena Muñoz writes about her restaurant class, “I teach healthy eating at restaurants. For example, the most important topic is going back to basics: knowing how to eat and knowing how to order simple, good nutrition. It is important to limit or exclude highly processed foods, especially fast foods and ones high in saturated fat, sodium and trans fat. This implies negotiating with the waitstaff. Also, regardless of what you order, you need to know when to identify the last bite, which should happen much sooner than the last piece on the plate/platter.”

Make a Meal - Mary A Emerson, MS, RD, created a felt board in the shape of a place setting with a large plate in the middle. She and her staff then cut, laminated and velcroed foods that the children can choose from and create their own meals.

Carol Suter emphasizes porton control with meat. “For teaching serving sizes of meat, I stopped at the grocery store and picked up a one pound package of ground beef. At the class I showed how I would be able to cut the rectangle into 4 pieces by drawing a line through the middle lengthwise and crosswise to form 4 equal size hamburger patties or to cook the whole package, drain off the fat, and then divide it into fourths. Each piece or portion would weigh 4 ounces raw. After it is cooked and drained, it would become a 3-ounce serving of meat. The same would be true if you wanted a 2-ounce serving by dividing the amount into 5 patties, cooking and draining them well. What is left is a 2-ounce piece of meat. If the meat would be crumbled and all cooked in a skillet, the fat drained off, and then divided into 5 portions, each one would weigh 2 ounces.”

Helen Yeung collects packages of food from the five food groups, and places them on the food guide "rainbow" or MyPlate, so that people can see where their foods fit into a healthy eating pattern. This is a hands on way for people to categorize food, and a good ice-breaker for people to start talking about what they eat. Food cartons and packages can keep longer than perishables, and they are cheaper than food models.

Rita Grandgenett, MS, RD, has several ways of teaching the value of portion sizes and calorie control:

  1. Display 100-calorie portions of various foods: grapes versus raisins; orange juice vs. fresh orange; banana vs. cookie.
  2. Compare muffin made from standard recipe and one purchased from coffee house/restaurant and calories for each.
  3. List the exercises/activities that equal 100 calories.
  4. Point out how much weight could be lost over time if we ate 100 calories less each day and exercised 100 calories more!

Laurie Goldberg, MS, RD, CDN, holds a weekly weight loss group session and each week she reviews a hot nutrition news item that she picks up from the New York Times Science section and/or the ADA News column. Laurie says this keeps the classes fresh and current and gives the patients something new to think about. Laurie makes copies of relevant articles and hands them out in class before each discussion.

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