Tag Archives: healthy living
NCES and The Wellness Spot: The Place to Be for Black Friday and Cyber Monday Shopping
The introduction of The Wellness Spot: Providing great tools to inspire a healthy life, couldn’t have come at a better time with holiday shopping season upon us! For Black Friday this year, we’re offering 20% off your entire purchase at ShopWellnessSpot.com, plus every order receives a free healthy living gift as well! This site features tons of great gift ideas for the health enthusiast in your life, including portion plates, advanced food scales, kitchen utensils and much more! Browse The Wellness Spot today and use code BlackFriday at checkout to save 20% off your entire order and receive your Free Gift!
For dietitians, we’ve setup Cyber Monday just for you! For almost 30 years, NCES has been the leading provider of health and nutrition education materials, including handouts, teaching aids, CEU’s, professional books and more! On Cyber Monday, receive Free Shipping on your entire order from NCEScatalog.com, plus receive a Free Gift as a Thank You from us for being a valued customer!
We appreciate all of you and want to show our appreciation by offering these great Black Friday and Cyber Monday savings! To stay current with NCES happenings, specials, new products and everything else we share, please follow us on Facebook and Twitter. If LinkedIn is your place, take a minute to connect with Chris Jackson, CEO of NCES, Inc.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at NCES! Cheer’s to a happy, healthy and safe holiday season!
Witness the Evolution of a Nutrition Education Handout
Since the 1980’s, NCES has been creating leading nutrition education products. But, do you know how it all started? I’m sure many of you do because you’ve been right here with us through the entire journey. But, for others, we’re excited to take this opportunity to share with you the evolution of our flagship product, now titled the “Healthy START” series of handouts.
It all started back in the 80’s with the extremely ‘cool cat’, Nutri-Cat! Nutri-Cat had a great job. He was responsible for encouraging people of all ages to eat healthy and exercise, similar to the way a team mascot would cheer on his team. The first handouts, featuring Nutri-Cat, utilized the food pyramid that had carbs at the bottom and fats and oils at the top.
This handout was able to hold on strong for many, many years. However, in 2005, it was time for an update. Based on new research and standards, the USDA updated their base food pyramid to a side-by-side food pyramid with steps moving up the side. At this time, we decided that Nutri-Cat had done his job as we retired him from the series of handouts. We also added more information on exercise as nutrition standards were putting a larger emphasis on exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle.
In 2011, we introduced the Healthy START handouts you know and love today! In response to the USDA’s updated 2010 Dietary Guidelines and the introduction of MyPlate to replace MyPyramid, we went back to the drawing board and crafted an entirely new educational handout to fit the needs of our health and nutrition education customers. We also thought it was important to provide an acronym that would help readers live a healthy lifestyle, which is where the START concept was born. This simple acronym provides everyday instructions to help reader’s jumpSTART their healthy lifestyle. Coming up with the components of the START concept were easy too. The USDA had just released five topics they intended to emphasize over the next five years. These became the pillars of our START concept.
And that’s how a star is born! These Healthy START handouts continue to be one of our best selling products here at NCES. For almost 30 years, these handouts have brought nutrition education to the masses. With solid information reflecting the most up-to-date research and science behind health, wellness and fitness, these handouts are a great fit in every nutrition education setting. To learn more or place your order today, visit NCEScatalog.com. You can also always contact us. Our on-staff dietitian is here to answer your questions! Before you go, take a second to connect with us on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for our newsletter!
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 home 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.
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.
NCES 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 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 – 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.
How do I Create an Engaging Corporate Wellness Plan?
There are so many resources available today for creating a corporate wellness program. Some of them are free and some cost. But, regardless of price, how do you choose the most effective corporate wellness tools, activities and programs that will best fit your audience? Let’s face it; the key to a successful program is employee engagement. When you’re employees are engaged and getting healthy, then you know that you’ve created an effective, successful corporate wellness program.
So, how do you begin sifting through all the tools to find the ones that your employees will love? We’ve enlisted the help of our expert dietitian to share the top things that you should look for… and avoid, when creating your corporate wellness program.
- Include useful tools: Online tools are great for employees with busy schedules. Because they can access them anytime anywhere, they are easy for employees to take advantage of. i.e.: NCES Virtual Learning Series
- Incentives or giveaways: Nothing motivates like getting free stuff! NCES offers a full line of Incentive products that will work great for motivating your group.
- Create something for them to follow: Creating an 8-12 week weight loss program that your employees can stick to will help gain interest. Many times, people just don’t know where to start. So, by giving them a plan designed by a professional, you’re giving them everything they need to get started. Need help getting started? NCES has created a free 2-week workout plan that you can use to get your program up and running.
- Decorate the cafeteria: Does your workplace have an onsite cafeteria? If so, decorate it with posters, healthy meal choices and inspirational quotes that will help your employees think about making healthy choices.
- Host a Health Fair: Provide an opportunity for your employees who are interested in getting or staying healthy to come get resources. Be sure to have plenty of handouts that your employees can take home and share with their family. Also, at your health fair, be sure to provide them some value for attending. For example, do free cholesterol screenings for everyone that attends and have a blood pressure machine available for employees to be proactive in determining the state of their health.
- Create a monthly E-Newsletter: Providing helpful resources directly to your employee’s inbox is a great way to reach them. Most of the time, taking the time to create a resources like this is the toughest part. Our NCES Health Beat newsletter gives you 24 predesigned, customizable newsletters that ready for you to distribute to your audience.
Now that you know what types things to include in your newly developing corporate wellness plan, here are a few tips from the experts on what you want to avoid when you’re thinking about creating your corporate wellness program.
- Avoid useless, overdone information: The internet is a vast tool full of resources on everything, including how to ‘get healthy’. Keep your program new and exciting so that your employees will be engaged.
- Don’t answer all of their questions right off the bat: Leave them wanting more! If they want more, they’ll continue coming back. Plus, they’ll stay engaged in your program.
- Don’t create a plan with no basis: Make sure that you have a firm understanding of what your employees want to see and be sure to provide those tools and resources in your program.
Get Your Portions in Control
Portions, Portions, Portions! If you are plugged in to nutrition at all, you probably read a different article about portions every day. But, do you pay attention? Or, for you dietitians, do you struggle to get your clients to pay attention? Portions are a very important part of any diet. However, for most of the fad diets that exist today, it’s the element that is given the least amount of attention. Or, for many, the expectations on portions are so completely unrealistic that it’s impossible to continue to practice what you’ve learned once you’ve reached your goal weight and stop ‘dieting’ in the literal sense of the word.
Between the common plate sizes in America growing as fast as our waistlines and restaurant portion sizes increasing in size to try to get ahead in their competitive market, we’re paying the price with rising obesity and diabetes rates. Did you know that the average household dinner plate has grown to 12 inches? Yet the appropriate size is 9 inches. So, here’s a tip that can make bringing your portions back under control very simple: instead of serving dinner on your dinner plates, serve them on your smaller salad plates. These plates present a much more realistic size for serving up correct portions for your family. You’ll be amazed at how satisfied you can be when you eat your dinner on these smaller plates. You’ll still get the satisfaction of cleaning your plate. However, you most likely won’t have eaten larger portions than you should.
So, we’ve made it easier to serve the correct portion sizes at home, now what are you supposed to do when you’re out to eat? I’m sure you’ve heard this tip before; cut your meal in half and put it in a take-out box before you even begin your meal. This is a great tip and can really help you control your portion sizes when eating out. But, it’s not always a great “across the board” kind of rule. There are some restaurants that serve appropriate portions. So, how are you supposed to gauge your portion size here? (BTW – This tip is great at any restaurant… whether you think the portion sizes are correct or not) Start by asking the server to bring an empty salad plate out with your meal. When you get the salad plate, visualize the MyPlate image sitting on your plate. Begin moving the meal from your dinner plate over to the salad plate, making sure to consider your portions in reference to MyPlate. By doing this, you’re fixing two big problems in restaurant servings; 1) the size of plate that your food is served on, and 2) the skewed proportions of grains and protein compared to fruits and vegetables served. Once your salad plate is full and closely reflects MyPlate, then you know you’ve got a correctly portioned meal while you’re out to eat. Take the rest and set it aside or put it in a to-go box to enjoy later.
Don’t feel like guessing? NCES has created Right-Size Portion Plates for Kids and Adults. So, whether you’re looking to take control of your own health or your entire family, we’ve got the plate for you! These plates are great for use at home. Or, they can be used as an easier tool than the salad plate while you’re out to eat. Use the links above to view each plate.
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!
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
Don’t Get the Sugar Scares!
Halloween is here! The most dreaded holiday for dentists and dietitians across the country! But, it’s nothing a little education can’t fix, since the holiday has the potential to be a lot of fun for kids of all ages. All of the unique costumes give kids an opportunity to show off their creative abilities. Then, they go door-to-door ‘trick or treating’ for some sugary snacks! Many people have already begun changing this tradition by passing out more health conscious items, including stickers, granola bars and even fruit! But, how do you keep your kids safe from those ghouls and goblins that still pass out sickening sweet treats? We’ve put together a list of the top things to do with all that candy so your children don’t spend the entire month of November amped up on a sugar high. (As with everything, it’s important to remember that moderation is key! Don’t feel like you have to take it ALL away!)
- Donate to your Dentist: Obviously, you don’t want to be that parent that gives away all of your children’s hard earned candy. So, have them set aside their absolute favorites. Then, find a local dentist who will trade you for the leftovers. Many dentists have items that they will trade your children for their candy.
- Put it on Ice: Sit down with your kids and pick out all the chocolate. Then, throw it in the freezer. This way, your kids can enjoy their Halloween treats all year long! Throw away the rest… or you can always trade the dentist!
- Take it to Work: Although no one person needs to be consuming all that sugar, spreading it out amongst your co-workers will keep your kids healthier. Plus, you’ll probably be a big hit around the office.
- Sell It: There are many organizations out there that will purchase your leftover Halloween candy. Some of them even take what they purchase and send it to our troops so they can enjoy the sweet treats. Try searching your area for locations you can take your Halloween stash and sell it.
As you can see, there are many options for keeping all that candy out of your little one’s tummy. A little bit of Halloween fun can go a long way. So, be sure to take this opportunity to teach your children about healthy habits and using self-control when digging in to their tasty treats!
To Stream or Not to Stream… Soda that is!
Did you have fun celebrating Earth Day last week? This day provides a great opportunity for us to consider our daily activities and how we can adjust them to sustain our environment. How did you celebrate? Did you make any big lifestyle changes hoping to make a lasting impact on our planet? Chris Jackson, President of NCES, purchased a SodaStream machine for the whole office to use. So, we’re here today to tell you what we love, and don’t love, about the SodaStream.
First, what is a SodaStream? It is a machine that uses tap water and converts it in to soda, sparkling waters and sparkling teas. Currently, SodaStream offers over 25 different flavors. With just a couple tablespoons of your favorite flavor concentrate, 1 liter of tap water and the SodaStream carbonator, you can make your very own carbonated beverages at home.
The biggest advantage to using a system like this is the inherent benefit to the planet. Did you know that the US is the world’s largest consumer of bottled water? This bottled water habit we have been sucked in to is bad for us and for the environment. Why? Because, according to the US Recycling Institute, only about 20% of bottles used in America are actually recycled. The other 80% end up in landfills across the country.
SodaStream is also an ActiveGreen product. This means that users are actively reducing their carbon footprint each time they use their SodaStream. Many products are made using ‘green’ processes. However, these products are not designed to help the user be ‘green’ each time they use the product. The SodaStream is! So, you can rest better knowing that each time you use your new SodaStream machine, you reduce your carbon footprint.
The only downfall we found to this product is the initial cost. SodaStream has quite a few options for consumers to choose from. These products range from $79.95 to $199.95, offering carbonators with either plastic or glass bottles. But, after you make the initial investment, you will be paying only 25cents per ‘can’ of soda that you make. Or, 25cents per liter of sparkling water. This is a pretty big savings from what you would pay in the store for soda or sparkling water.
So, if you’re willing to make the initial investment, we think that the SodaStream machine provides a great, cost-effective opportunity to reduce your daily carbon footprint. We should also mention that, while the SodaStream is great to have, a big glass of ice water is still the best way to refresh and replenish your body. You should still strive to consume your daily recommendation of 8-16 cups of water per day. However, if you are good at meeting your daily water recommendation and enjoy a soda here and there, getting yourself a SodaStream to save money and preserve the environment may be a good choice.
Do you already have a SodaStream? What do you think are the pros and cons?
Did you decide to go get one after reading this article? If so, share with us what you think of your new SodaStream!
Celebrating Earth Day with ‘A Million Acts of Green’
Tomorrow, April 22nd, is Earth Day and all of us here at NCES are very excited. In order for us to be healthy, our planet has to be healthy. Earth Day is a great opportunity to begin celebrating Mother Earth and brainstorming ways to keep her healthy. Have you jumped on board yet? Here are 6 ways that many Americans have started ‘Thinking Green’ to conserve our planet (Courtesy Readers Digest).
Green Driving: Roughly 1.5 million hybrid cars were sold in the US between 2004 and 2009. Most of us drive our vehicles on a daily basis. So, this is a great place to start.
Turn off the Lights: 1 in 2.17 adults claim they always keep unneeded lights off or turn the lights off when leaving a room. Not only does turning off the unused lights help save the planet, it will also have a direct impact on your electric bill.
Recycle, Reduce, Reuse: 1 in 2.38 adults claim they always recycle. But, 1 in 20 admit they never recycle. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, recycling creates jobs, reduces pollution, energy use, and conserves national resources. Many cities are currently offering new programs to encourage residents to recycle. Check with your city to see what you can do today.
Trash Can: The average American produces 1,600 pounds of garbage a year. 1 in 3.7 adults claim they always reuse things instead of throwing them away or buying new items. But, 1 in 25 admit to never reusing things. Garbage is sitting in landfills all across this country. By reducing our personal trash, we can reduce the size of these landfills.
Running Water: 1 in 3.85 adults claim they always make an effort to use less water. However, 1 in 16.67 admit they never make an effort to conserve water. The average American uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water a day. You may be asking; if water is constantly recycled through Earth’s water cycle, why do we need to conserve it? The truth is that we currently use water faster than it can be replenished. So, conserving water eases the burden on treatment facilities, uses less resources and energy and costs us less.
Vampire Power: 1 in 6.25 adults claim they always make an effort to unplug electrical appliances when not using them. However, 1 in 6.67admit they never make such an effort. The electricity used by appliances plugged in but not in use is estimated to account for 1% of global C02 emissions. Where do you start? Begin by unplugging the items around your house that you don’t use often. For example, you may only use your toaster once every couple weeks. Therefore, it doesn’t need to be plugged in 24/7. This is also a good rule of thumb for your home printer, if you don’t use it often.
Now that we have discussed the 6 things you can do to start being green around your house, let’s discuss a few things you can do to in order to start ‘Eating Green’. Eating Green is not only great for the planet but is great for our bodies as well . Some things you can do to eat green include:
- Buying local food items, including fruits, vegetables and meat.
- Using natural food products in your recipes.
- Plant your own garden, any size is great.
- Pack your own lunch
- Avoid processed foods
There are many great resources available to help you begin ‘Living Green’. For a full list of NCES products to get you started visit our ‘Green Products’ section. Also, check out this Earth Day video created to encourage everyone to begin considering our planet when making decisions.