26, February 2015 8:26 AM

Free Nutrition Lesson Plans Align to Common Core

Our free nutrition lesson plans align to Common Core State Standards (you can view the alignments for each program on the grade-specific page), but teachers have asked us for more ways to engage their students in learning and activities that develop the 21st century skills that the Common Core State Standards seek to build. 

free common core activities Nutrition is the Perfect Topic to Build Common Core Skills

Whether teachers are using our free nutrition lesson plans in their classrooms or extending the learning with our new Common Core Extension Activities, we believe that nutrition is the perfect topic to build Common Core skills. First, food is an engaging topic! Most people love talking about food, learning about its history and culture and thinking through the health benefits of certain foods. To develop the 21st century skills as defined by the Common Core, we need students to engage, analyze, apply and collaborate while they read, write, research, discuss and present. It is much easier to motivate students with topics that hold their interest. 

The second reason that nutrition makes a great topic for teaching Common Core skills is because students can apply nutrition knowledge quickly and repeatedly. If a student reads informational text about how foods from the five food groups build their bodies, they can put that knowledge to action when they walk into the cafeteria for lunch that day and every day after. Nutrition is a topic with nearly immediate application. 

New Common Core Extension Activities Reinforce the Learning in Free Nutrition Lesson Plans 

Now available on, for Kindergarten through 5th grade, are four complete Common Core State Standards-based activities specific to each grade level. Each activity includes an informational text or literary reading passage, a student worksheet with text-dependent questions, a teacher answer key and a Lexile measure. 

For example, in the Common Core Extension Activities, Kindergartners will recognize types of text, identify relationships and describe details while 5th grade students will draw inferences, identify idioms and detail a point of view. 

(You must login to view and download these resources.Registration is free.)


LeAnne R. Ruzzamenti
Director of Marketing Communications, Dairy Council of California

Tags: common core state standards Kindergarten nutrition education nutrition lesson plans
Categories: categoryNutrition Education

23, February 2015 9:19 AM

The most highly tuned race car won't get far without gasoline, and the highest octane fuel won't improve the performance of a dilapidated jalopy. The human body also runs on fuel and even though food is fun, social and delicious, at its very core, food is fuel. Therefore, in order to have a truly healthy lifestyle and keep your body tuned up properly, your food choices must be balanced with regular physical activity. 

In our latest article, we explore three reasons to add physical activity to your diet. A healthy eating pattern is great, but it's even better for your heart health and more when coupled with a regular physical activity plan. And just like any other new habit, start small and set realistic measurable goals that you can build on over time. You won't go from couch to a 5K over night, but, but you might make it from couch to the street corner, and that's a start. 

Health and wellness professionals, if you're looking for tools to help your clients improve both ends of the equation, check out our Activity + Eating nutrition education booklet.

How do you include physical activity in your healthy lifestyle?  

Categories: categoryHealthy Eating

12, February 2015 3:28 PM

Heart Health Exercise Plan

Like most people, my husband and I usually come up with New Year's resolutions. Just like everyone else, we usually have "get more exercise" on the list. And just like everyone else, we usually only follow through on this resolution for a short time -- maybe only one or two days!

This year we decided to try something different. Since my work schedule was changing and I now work from home most days, I expressed a desire to get outside and go for a walk before I start working at 7:30 a.m. We decided to get up together and go for an early morning walk before work, setting the alarm for 6:00 a.m.

The weekend before we started our plan, a friend mentioned that her office had given out star stickers for exercising as a part of a company wellness program. So I decided to try this idea and went to our local office supply store to buy sheets of star stickers. I printed out a blank calendar from Google and put it on the refrigerator.

Best Heart Health Exercise Plans

Research on motivation and behavior change shows these elements increase the odds of making a successful behavior change:

  1. Get specific (30 minute walk meets that criteria)
  2. The change needs to be relatively simple (we weren't committing to a marathon)
  3. A trigger is needed to remind you to do the desired action (UGH, the alarm)
  4. Build in a reward (stars!!)1, 2

‚ÄčThe American Heart Association recommends regular physical activity to prevent heart attacks or stroke3, so we knew that these daily walks would benefit our heart health. The best heart health exercise plan is one that gets you moving, burns calories and is something you can stick with. Turns out our heart health exercise plan did even more than that!

Friendly Competition to Reach Fitness Goals

heart healthy physical activity journal

When the dreaded alarm went off the first day, we both bolted out of bed and really did enjoy our early-morning walk. A few days later, I needed to go in to the office so my husband and I didn't walk in the morning. During the day I got a message from my husband that he had walked 30 minutes AND climbed up and down six flights of stairs twice (he was afraid his co-workers were avoiding him because he was stinky!) What motivation! When I got home I rushed to get dinner in the oven so I could take a quick walk. There was no way I was going to let him earn a star without me. 

About a week after we started our walking program, I talked to a co-worker who was also enjoying some healthy competition with her husband regarding fitness. They both received "wearable" fitness devices for Christmas which include a cool option to upload activity records like the number of steps taken on a given day to a social media platform. Their devices also have a group reporting function so you can see how all your friends are doing. She said her husband became a fanatic. If by the end of the day anyone in their group had logged more steps, he would walk up and down their stairs or go for a run. She felt less driven, however, but said that the competition prompted them to walk the dog more often and they are enjoying their fitness time together. 

So, whether you want to go high tech with a wearable fitness device, low tech with old fashioned stars, or someplace in-between with our Physical Activity Journal, why not recommit to your fitness plan during February (Heart Health month). Be sure to include your Valentine so you can have some fun achieving your fitness and heart health goals together.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Maureen Bligh, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

1. BJ Fogg, Three Steps to Changing Behavior. Stanford University, accessed on 2/11/2015.

2. C Duhigg. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and in Business, Random House, Reprint edition, February 28, 2012. 

3. Accessed on 2/12/15.



Tags: Healthy eating heart health Maureen Bligh physical activity
Categories: categoryHealthy Eating

06, February 2015 8:06 AM

As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I've heard more than once that my job is about telling people what not to eat. Like most nutrition professionals, I find joy in encouraging people to eat more healthy foods instead. This positive approach to a healthy eating pattern is one that we live by at Dairy Council of California. It’s an approach that can catch people off guard when they are used to the laundry list of ‘bad foods’ to avoid. 

I’m frequently asked if this positive approach can still hold true if you are trying to manage or even prevent a chronic disease like diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure. Not only do I think it can, but I have some ‘proof in the pudding" calcium-rich pudding made with low-fat milk, that is. 

What are the best foods for blood pressure?

About 1 in 3 adults in the US has high blood pressure, and since hypertension increases risk for heart attacks and stroke, it’s a very important public health issue. A common approach to curb this problem is by focusing on cutting down sodium consumption. Since most Americans get far above their recommend daily amount of sodium, and considering that most of the sodium in our diets come from processed foods, cutting back on heavily processed, packaged foods like bread and cold cuts can be a good start.  

However, many people are shocked to find out that focusing on including a variety of nutrient-rich foods from all five food groups, in the right amounts, can have even a greater impact on lowering blood pressure than just cutting down on sodium alone. When I come across someone looking for advice on the best foods for blood pressure, I skip the ‘no salt’ mantra, and instead sing the praises of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan, which provides a healthy eating road map that is enjoyable and easy to follow. 

How can I follow a heart healthy diet? 

DASH isn’t a diet that lists what to avoid, but rather a pattern that focuses on what you should include each day for optimal health. And it works! In fact, DASH was ranked the ‘Best Diet Overall’ by the US News & World Report and has been shown through credible scientific studies to lower blood pressure as effectively as taking one prescription medication for lowering blood pressure. Although DASH is naturally lower in sodium than typical diets, it’s also unique because it provides higher amounts of a few important minerals, specifically calcium, magnesium and potassium. 

Here’s how you can easily follow the DASH eating plan: 

  • Consume 2-3 servings of fat-free or low-fat dairy products every day
  • Vary your fruits and vegetables, making colorful choices which adds up to 8-10 servings each day
  • Make half of your grains whole grains 
  • Choose lean cuts of meat, poultry and fish
  • Eat nuts, seeds and dry beans 4-5 times per week

Where do I start on a heart healthy diet?

Notice, I didn’t include a bullet of what not to do in the list above. I believe DASH is so effective as part of a heart healthy diet and overall healthy eating pattern because it’s simple, allows you to still eat foods you enjoy, and can be easily adapted to meet your individual needs and preferences. Let’s face it, we all need a little encouragement and support in making better food choices. If you want to make healthy eating easier in your everyday life, try our new Healthy Eating Planner, an effective online tool that will help you make small steps that lead to lifelong healthy eating habits. 

Ashley Rosales, R.D.N.


American Heart Association Accessed 2/3/2015.

National Institutes of Health, DASH Eating Plan. Accessed 2/5/15.

Tags: Ashley Rosales blood pressure DASH Healthy eating healthy eating patterns
Categories: categoryHealthy Eating

06, February 2015 8:00 AM

Heart Health Month

Looking to improve your health and wellness in the workplace or at home? Here is your monthly Wellness Wake Up Call. 

In February, all thoughts turn to matters of the heart. What better way to celebrate than with saturated fats, or at least the latest research on heart health and saturated fats.

Once you're up to date on the latest heart health research, rest assured while preparing Inside Out Cannolis as a delicious and festive treat for the ones you love.

Just like many things in life, even exercise is better with a partner. Find a friend and try the Seated Facing Twist as the featured move of the month.

Read more and share the print-friendly version of the February Workplace Wellness Newsletter with colleagues or friends interested in health topics, delicious recipes and physical activity moves. 

Dairy Council of California offers free monthly Workplace Wellness Newsletters as part of our Workplace Wellness Resources.

Tags: Healthy eating heart health physical activity saturated fat workplace wellness
Categories: categoryHealthy Eating

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