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Why We Should all Care about Employee Wellness

Happy National Employee Wellness Month! Did you even know that June is National Employee Wellness Month? More importantly, do you have a reason to care? The truth is that we all have a reason to care! Employee health and wellness has a direct impact on healthcare costs. And, it’s no secret that healthcare costs in America are soaring right now and cause a lot of controversy across company board rooms and government negotiations every day. According to nationalemployeewellnessmonth.com, “75% of these costs are driven by preventable and highly manageable chronic diseases like, heart disease, type II diabetes and some forms of cancer.”

Many companies and organizations have joined forces throughout the month of June to raise awareness for employee wellness. But, it can’t stop here. On June 30th, we can’t all forget about employee wellness until June 2014 rolls around. We’ve got to keep the momentum going!

How you ask? That’s exactly what we want to answer today. Here are a few tips for encouraging employee wellness in your organization beyond National Employee Wellness Month.

    • Participate: If your company has a wellness program in place, participate in the programs they offer. Join the wellness walks, participate in the webinars, compete in the challenges… Whatever they offer, take advantage!
    • Campaign: If your company doesn’t currently offer a wellness program, or you see a need for improvements in the wellness program, become an advocate for a stronger wellness program. NCES has many products designed to make workplace wellness easy in any workplace.
    • Get Started: Can’t find all the support that you’re looking for within your company? Odds are that you’re not alone. Get together with some co-workers and start a walking club, create a weight loss challenge or even host a wellness class. If your employer sees that you are interested, they’ll be more likely to get the program started for the entire company.

 

So, even though June is the official month for employee wellness, let’s keep the

Employee wellnessmomentum going! National Employee Wellness Month officially began in 2009. Since then, it’s gained great momentum year after year and has grown to have over 150 organizations with more than 65,000 employees supporting the cause. Get started promoting employee wellness in your workplace today. And, remember to become a 2014 supporter of National Employee Wellness Month. Visit www.NationalEmployeeWellnessMonth.com for more information and to become a supporter next year. For everything corporate wellness, take a second to browse the NCES Corporate Wellness section today!

 

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Your Toolbox for Fighting Childhood Obesity

With the Childhood Obesity Conference happening right now in Long Beach, CA, we thought it was a fitting time to address childhood obesity and some of the top ways to combat and reverse it. It’s no secret that the number of children in the US that are overweight or obese is overwhelming. And, to make it worse, that number is still growing at an astounding rate. But, the goal of the conference is to “Accelerate Progress”. So, what can we do to accelerate progress? As many of you remember from our last blog, we discussed some resources that are available to parents and educators to provide to children. Today, we wanted to provide some easy ways to teach health, nutrition and fitness to kids.

NCES MyPlate Lunch & Learn Placemat – Use at the breakfast/lunch or dinner table either at MyPlate Munch and Learn Placemathome or on the go. Designed specifically for kids, this placemat educates your child about the five major food groups while engaging their critical thinking skills as they work through the fun activities on the back.

EIEO Kids Tear pad

NCES EIEO tear pad – Use these handouts to help motivate kids to get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity in daily.  It also helps children understand that what you eat has to balance with how much they exercise in order to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.


Kids Portion PlateNCES Right-Sized Plate – With two designs, one for adults and one for kids, these colorful plates provide portioned sections for measuring out portions. This is great for kids so they can learn all about portion control by filling each section of their plate.daily.  It also helps children understand that what you eat has to balance with how much they exercise in order to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.

Whiz, Zip, Zap Kids Cookbook

Whiz Zip and Zap cookbook – Get your kids in the kitchen to start cooking so they can see how fun it is. Summer is a greattime to engage your kids in activities like helping to cook family meals.   It has been proven that kids who participate in cooking with their parents or caregivers have healthier eating habits. This cookbook provides simple recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks.

Scratch and Sniff Learning Cards for KidsScratch and Sniff Learning cards – These interactive scratch and sniff cards provide a fun way for kids to learn about and try new fruits and vegetables.  First, have them smell the card. Then, have them taste the actual fruit and vegetable to compare the scent and taste. They can also note what they liked most and least about the foods.

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Childhood Obesity – What’s the Big Deal?

ImageLet’s Move, Fuel Up to Play 60 and Kids Eat Right! What do all these programs have in common? They are all newly created programs aimed at helping kids get active and eat healthy. The problem is that despite all of their great efforts, childhood obesity is still on the rise! According to the CDC, Childhood Obesity has doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. As more attention has been given to the issue, the problem has only continued to get worse. So, what’s the big deal? That’s simple! These children are at an increased risk to develop in to obese adults, opening them up to diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, several types of cancer and much more. Not to mention the immediate health risks such as pre-diabetes, sleep apnea and bone and joint problems; just to name a few!

The health costs associated with overweight and obese children are staggering as well! “Childhood obesity alone is responsible for $14 billion in direct medical costs”. 2 Who pays for that? Of course, we all do. But, it’s also a huge expense for the parents of these overweight children. There has been a lot of research in to the economic impact of childhood obesity and obesity as a whole! Much of this information can be found at this link.

The good news is that we can turn this around. It takes more than just a few organizations taking the initiative to raise a healthier generation of kids. We all need to use the resources available to raise healthy kids. Talk to your friends, family members and neighbors to make sure everyone you know has the resources they need to get healthy. Included below is a list of resource websites that have great information and games for teaching children about health and nutrition. The 7th Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference is coming up this month. Reach out to a childhood obesity specialist if you have any specifics questions, concerns or are interested in being a part of the solution. Of course, all of us here at NCES are always here to help! Please browse the Educated Kids section of our website to browse games, tear pads and other tools for teaching children about nutrition. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to stay on top of all the latest nutrition news!

Child Nutrition Resource Websites:

1)      http://www.ncescatalog.com/Educated-Kids_c_92.html

2)      http://www.KidsEatRight.org

3)      http://www.fueluptoplay60.com/

4)      http://www.choosemyplate.gov/

 

Sources:

1)      http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm

2)      http://www.healthycommunitieshealthyfuture.org/learn-the-facts/economic-costs-of-obesity/

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Celebrate MyPlate B-Day with Us – Plus a Bonus Coupon Code

MyPlate BirthdayWell, another birthday has come and gone! For MyPlate that is! It’s hard to believe that it’s been two years since the USDA rocked our world by introducing the new MyPlate icon along with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. At that very moment, we scrapped everything we knew in the MyPyramid; everything that was familiar. Here at NCES, we threw out any products that depicted the ‘dated’ MyPyramid image and began recreating our awesome educational handouts to include the all-new MyPlate. Since then, we’ve added many new products to the line, including the NCES MyPlate Food Model Kit, NCES Right-Sized plates for portion control and much more.

So, even though MyPlate’s actual birthday has come and gone (June 2nd), we’re going to continue celebrating all week! How can you join the celebration? It’s simple! Head on over to Facebook and be sure to like NCES and MyPlate. As many of you know, NCES was among the first to release a brand new line of MyPlate products. You can always count on us to provide you with the most up-to-date information. Our Facebook page is the best way to stay on top of everything health and nutrition! Plus, just because we really want you to join us on Facebook, there’s an exciting savings code waiting for you on our Facebook page! So, be sure to like the page while you’re there so you’re always the first to receive our money-saving offers!

As with everything, the nutrition industry is constantly changing. With our highly skilled staff, including our favorite on-staff dietitian Carrie, we make sure to stay on top of nutrition trends and work to provide you with the most up-to-date, trusted information and resources. Be sure to join us Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to be the first to know of breaking nutrition news!

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Feedback Wanted: What’s hot in Diabetes Education?

Diabetes… it’s been around forever! Well, maybe not forever. But, it’s definitely been around for a long time. And, the bigger issue is that it’s becoming more and more of a problem as time goes on. Almost 2 million new cases of Type II Diabetes are diagnosed each year. Despite our best efforts as a health and nutrition education community, these numbers continue to rise, meaning that more people are dying from this disease each year than the previous year.

There are many misconceptions about Type II diabetes. Many people think they can ‘cure’ their Type II diabetes by simply removing sugar from their diet. Although this isn’t a bad idea, it’s not a cure for this incredibly dangerous disease. Or, on the other spectrum, many think that once they’ve been diagnosed, there is no going back. They are unaware that, after being diagnosed with Type II diabetes, simple lifestyle changes can reverse the effects of diabetes on their body. Clearing up these misconceptions is an important job of the diabetes educator.

The basics of diabetes education are commonly known in the nutrition community. Carb counting, Exchanges, Portion sizes. If you’re a diabetes educator yourself, I’m sure you can recite many of these words, plus many others, in your sleep without any thought because you’ve taught so many classes, given multiple presentations and counseled countless individuals on the topic of reversing Type II diabetes. Through the years, the disease has stayed the same. But, the educational tools have evolved. Or have they?

We’ve been noticing that many of the tools used to teach diabetes aren’t evolving with our obese population. So, we want to know. How are you teaching diabetes education? What tools do you think are most useful when you’re working with a patient whose recently been diagnosed with Type II diabetes? What information do you find is most effective in getting through to your patients the importance of making lifestyle changes to save their lives? And, most importantly, what’s missing in the field of diabetes education?

As we begin preparation for the Fall 2013 NCES catalog, we want your feedback! You’re in the field every day working with patients to help save lives, what do you feel is missing? This is your opportunity to make sure that a product that could make your diabetes education program more effective or easier to teach is included in our next catalog.

So, whether you prefer to leave your comments here on the blog, share them over on Facebook or Twitter, or even email them directly to us at info@ncescatalog.com. We hope you’ll consider offering your feedback so we can continue to fill the catalog with the best in nutrition education teaching aids, handouts, presentations and more!

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Celebrate Heart Health Month: Which Oil is best for your Heart?

As I’m sure you’re well aware of by now, February is Heart Health Month. With all of the attention given these days to having the perfect figure, many people lose sight of the fact that the ultimate goal is not only to have a trim physique but also to have a healthy body, inside and out. Heart health is often a subject that gets ignored by most people when they are only concerned about the amount of calories and/or carbohydrates a certain food has. However, Cardiovascular Disease still takes the lives of 2150 Americans each day. (heart.org) One huge contributor to cholesterol levels are oils. Whether you’re cooking a dish, making your own salad dressing or baking some sweet treats, the type of oil that you use can have a direct impact on your cholesterol levels. So, how do you know which one to choose? Here are the top 3 most common oils and how they can affect your HDL and LDL cholesterol levels.

Olive Oil: In recent years, olive oil has gained in popularity, mainly due to its heart healthy properties. Because of its mix of antioxidants, olive oil can lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol without changing your HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

Coconut Oil: Although there is still a lot of research out about the exact health benefits of coconut oil, there are some general conclusions that tend to be the same across the board. As we’ve touched on in previous articles, coconut oil is becoming hugely popular (and controversial) due to its touted benefits. It appears that coconut oil does increase the levels of HDL (good) cholesterol in your body. However, it may also increase the levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol. So, do the pros outweigh the cons?

Vegetable/Canola Oil: Vegetable oil has long been a staple in American pantries. It’s the most commonly used cooking oil. Canola oil has only 7% saturated fat and works to lower your LDL cholesterol and raise your HDL cholesterol. That’s really a good combination.

Although there are many choices when it comes to cooking oils, it’s always important to remember that different oils will impact your overall cholesterol levels, both good and bad. An increase in total cholesterol isn’t always a bad thing. What’s important to focus on is your ratio of LDL to HDL. If you are facing a serious heart problem like cardiovascular disease or other risk of stroke, it’s important to consult a doctor about how to manage your diet. However, if you’re someone looking to get your whole body in shape, not just your outside appearance, start by paying attention to your heart health.

Are you a dietitian or educator looking to teach your patients about heart health? NCES offers a full line of heart healthy educational tools, including the “Busting the Myths about Fats: Saturated Fat” and “Busting the Myths about Fats: Monounsaturat Fat” tear pads.

heart health

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Is Coconut Oil the New Olive Oil?

HAs a common component in the currently popular Paleo Diet, Coconut Oil has been getting a lot of attention lately. Because of its varying properties to Olive and Vegetable oil, it’s been given a lot of recognition as ‘the better’ option for cooking with. But, are there any side effects? Any other properties that may not be good for your health?

Olive Oil is currently leading the race as the top oil, both raw and cooked. Because of its fantastic flavor, lower amount of saturated fat (the bad stuff) and increased amount of mono-unsaturated fat (the good stuff), it’s long been known as a better option than traditional vegetable or canola oils. But, olive oil may have finally met some real competition in Coconut Oil. You see, when you consume most oils, you’re body treats them as a fat and stores them as such. But, Coconut Oil metabolizes to Ketone bodies, which are used for fuel; more similar to the way your body reacts to a carb. So, the potential energy benefits are part of what’s making coconut oil gain in popularity. The drawback is that coconut oil is 92% saturated fat, giving it a much higher saturated fat content than olive oil.

Our conclusion: Coconut oil is great for your skin, energy and many other parts of your body. It’s also proven that coconut oil is more heat stable for cooking. Where your olive oil will turn rancid when it reaches a certain temperature, coconut oil will maintain its flavor and freshness at higher temperatures. However, the long term health benefits and risks, including the risk to your heart because of the saturated fat content are still yet to be determined. So, we’re not quite ready to make the switch. Who knows what time will tell though!

Interested in learning more about trans fats or mono/polyunsaturated fats? Or, looking to teach your clients more about these nutrients? Click on the names above to view our educational tear pads that will clear up any confusion about fat and how it’s used in the body.

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FNCE 2012: Are you Inspired?

The AND Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) is kind of like Christmas in the nutrition and dietetics community.  Four jam-packed days of interesting education sessions, networking and foodie events, and the inevitable attempt to fit as many free samples from the Expo into our bags as possible.  But aside from the whirlwind of activity, what has and always will make FNCE the extraordinary experience that it is every year, is the energy, the people and the newfound sense of drive you feel every time you leave.
As part of the Executive Board of the Nutrition Entrepreneurs Dietetic Practice Group, our theme at the conference this year was “Declare Your Passion.”  I had the amazing opportunity to meet and network with registered dietitians who have found a way to take their passions and incorporate it into a career that is both emotionally and financially fulfilling– I’m pretty sure not many other professions can say that!  From supermarket dietitians, to authors, to social media gurus, to research experts (just to name a few!) there was never a shortage of colleagues to talk to and learn from.

FNCE is about celebrating collaboration, not competition.  This weekend I saw friends reconnecting, long-lasting business relationships being formed, and students interacting with their mentors.  We shared ideas, we asked questions, and we motivated one another.  The one buzz word that kept being tossed around to describe the 2012 FNCE experience was “inspired,” and I couldn’t agree more.
In essence, FNCE to me this year served as a reminder of how truly lucky we are to be in a profession where we can make whatever career we want.  There are no limits, there are no boundaries–we get to wake up looking forward to going to work every day!  I’ve already started outlining my 2013 “career to-do list” inspired by my interactions with fellow dietitians this weekend, and I can’t wait to experience it all over again next year in Texas!

Kristen Carlucci, RD
Nutrition Expert for Pitney Bowes

NEdpg Director-Elect of Member Services

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Top 5 Summer Foods to Enjoy Before their Gone

As we all know, summer is here! We’ve all been feeling the relentless heat that the summer of 2012 has thrown our way! If nothing else, you can look through our past few blog posts and hear us rant and rave about the heat this summer! So today, we’re turning it around… we’re taking lemons and making lemonade! Today, we want to share with you our top summer foods to enjoy before their gone! Before we know it, winter will be here and all the amazing fresh fruits & veggies that we enjoy all summer will be nothing but a memory, or a hard, flavorless grocery store imitation! So, enjoy these top picks while you still can!

  1. Peaches – Has anybody ever told you, “You’re a Peach!”? If so, you should be flattered! Peaches are sweet, flavorful and unique to their core. Enjoy one today because they are at the peak of their season right now!
  2. Tomatoes – Umm… BLT! Need we say more! Although great by themselves, adding a freshly picked tomato to your favorite sandwich or salad is sure to make your mouth happy!
  3. Blueberries – Talk about the perfect snack! Once you pop… the fun won’t stop! And, with these little guys, the fun doesn’t have to stop! You can pop as many as you want without counting fat or calories.
  4. Cherries – And we’re not talking maraschino here folks! When was the last time you bit in to a fresh, unprocessed, Bing cherry? They are in season now and give those jarred guys a run for their money on sweetness!
  5. Cucumbers – Although probably not a vegetable that you always think to turn to, cucumbers are a great addition to many recipes. Sliced or diced, a fresh cucumber can be added to any summer salad for a splash of unique flavor!

Well, that’s it! Our list of top summer foods! What’s on your list? We’re always up for trying new ideas, foods and recipes! Share your favorite summer foods with us right here on the blog, on Facebook or on Twitter! If it’s reasonable, we promise we’ll try it! We hope you enjoy these fresh, flavorful and fun foods! Come back and let us know what you think!

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How do you “Right-Size” Your Plate?

We all know that proper portion sizes are important. The struggle is having the time to focus on each plate that we fill, making sure that it contains the perfect amount of food from each food group. That’s where we come in! We want to make sure that your plate is full of all the nutrients that you need, and is void of the empty calories that don’t provide your body with any nutritional value.

There are many resources available to us today to educate ourselves on proper nutrition and serving sizes. Right here at NCES, we recently launched our “Right-Sized Portion” line of products, including plates and tearpads. These products make it fun and easy to fill your plate with the right foods.

The American Dietetic Association also offers many great resources for helping us learn how to live healthier lives. A lot of these great resources are available year-round. Because March is National Nutrition MonthTM,  they have many extra resources available at no cost. We love their interactive nutrition games. Last week on Facebook, we mentioned the “Rate Your Plate” game. This game provides a fun, interactive way to understand more about how the choices you make when filling your plate affect your overall nutrition.  If you haven’t had a chance to play yet, be sure to go check out “Rate Your Plate”, as well as all the other great games, today!

Proper nutrition is very important, and should be an important part of your daily life. At NCES, we have an on-staff dietitian who is always here to answer your questions. So, whenever you have questions about living healthy, be sure to visit www.ncescatalog.com and “Chat with our Dietitian”, give us a call or email us at info@ncescatalog.com.