23, October 2014 12:00 AM

Practice teaching common core state standards with nutrition lesson plans and training provided by Dairy Council of CaliforniaA week ago I had the privilege of presenting a poster at the 88th Annual American School Health Association (ASHA) conference in beautiful Portland, Oregon.  My topic, “Creating a Culture of Wellness through Common Core – Strategies and Promising Practices,” focused on how certain shifts related to English Language Arts/Literacy open the door for teaching nutrition lesson plans in the classroom.  

After inserting the last push pin, I was delighted to hear the first comment … “That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to say”.  My fellow presenters from Arizona Department of Education enthusiastically expressed how our poster reflected their viewpoint about health education, nutrition lesson plans and Common Core State Standards.  In the next hour I engaged in multiple face-to-face discussions with nurses, wellness coordinators, health educators, physicians and registered dietitians.

The focus of our poster is best explained by Program Specialist Ray Pietersen from the Elk Grove Unified School District. “Teaching the standards and skills of Common Core opens the door for using curriculum, such as nutrition education curriculum, that supports the use of expository text and helps students build skills that they are expected to master under Common Core."  

Particular focus was given to how the subject of nutrition naturally aligns to the key shifts of the Common Core State Standards English Language Arts/Literacy:

  1. Building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction
  2. Reading, writing and speaking grounded in evidence from the text, both literary and informational
  3. Regular practice with complex text and its academic language   

Dairy Council of California's classroom nutrition lesson plans are aligned to these three key shifts and provide teachers with a real-life, engaging topic, food, as a way for students to practice and reinforce the Common Core standards.  

The take-away message is that the opportunity is NOW for health and education to work in tandem through Common Core State Standards.  But recognizing this opportunity is only the first step. Dairy Council of CA is taking the next critical step - providing teacher training through professional development to show how nutrition education naturally aligns to Common Core.  Teachers don’t have time to search and align nutrition lesson plans – health educators must make the Common Core shift with teachers to successfully cultivate a culture of wellness in schools.

To learn more or schedule a teacher training for your staff or colleagues, contact the Community Nutrition Adviser nearest you.

Valerie Fung-A-Ling, Community Nutrition Adviser

Tags: common core state standards nutrition lesson plans Valerie Fung-A-Ling
Categories: categoryPrograms in Action categoryTrain the Trainer/Continuing Education Modules categoryNutrition Education

17, October 2014 10:57 AM

I am fortunate enough this year to attend the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (affectionately known as FNCE) this year that will be held in Atlanta starting tomorrow. If you are a registered dietitian nutritionist and planning to attend, then you are probably doing the same thing as I am, packing and planning the sessions you want to hear.  (BTW, if you haven't downloaded the conference app - do it! It is a fabulous tool for planning and tracking your conference activities!)

This year we have the good fortune to be sponsoring a session titled, New Research on Responsive Feeding in Early Childhood: Healthy Eating and Healthy Weight. Mark this session to attend (Tuesday morning October 21 at 8:00 am). The speakers are Elizabeth Jackson and Mary Mullen, both dietitians in clinical practice. They have planned a wonderful blend of case studies from their own practice and the latest research. As a former pediatric dietitian, I can verify that these RDNs have information that will be very practical for dietitians that work with children (or are mothers of young children!)

Here is a bit of a sneak preview:

With the focus on obesity prevention some parents are getting into power struggles that are creating significant feeding problems. Parents often feel pressure to feed kids the “right” foods, but not too much … and to control what they eat. As the mother I know all about having picky eaters since my children were once very picky! Thankfully, there is a way to successfully navigate through this challenge through a strategy called Responsive Feeding (RF). RF helps parents teach their kids positive and healthy eating habits from an early age, avoid power struggles, and most importantly, teaches kids how to have a healthy relationship with food and weight.

At this session our speakers will outline the three important goals for Responsive Feeding:

  1. Recognize the differences between YOUR responsibility as a parent of what, when and where to feed your child, and YOUR CHILD’S responsibility of whether and how much to eat.
  2. Strike a balance between providing the FAT and CALORIES needed for your child's growth and development, while reducing their risk of overweight/obesity.
  3. Recognize the nutritional differences of beverages (water, juice, milk and milk alternatives) and make the best choices to meet your child's needs.

If used consistently, these principles will help children develop long-term healthy eating habits and allow for culture, enjoyment, taste, creativity and other factors involved in eating.  Research confirms this method is far easier than the typical conflict at the dinner table when your kids don’t eat what you want them to.

There are a host of resources that parents can access online and use right away to learn more about this important topic. These online resources include how-to tips and even pre-recorded presentations on how to raise a healthy eater, provide healthy meals and snacks and how to be a positive role model designed with parents in mind. 

Maureen Bligh, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist


Tags: Healthy eating healthy eating for kids Maureen Bligh nutrition research
Categories: categoryMeals & Snacks; Family Meals categoryNutrition Education

10, October 2014 9:25 AM

farm to school and nutrition lesson plans help grow healthy kidsNutrition lesson plans teach life skills- how to eat healthy from all five food groups. Nutrition lesson plans also provide real life context for other learning skills like math and language arts. In fact, Dairy Council of California's k-12 nutrition lesson plans feature fun worksheets and activities that make nutrition engaging. (You can order free lesson plans, here). However, some teachers go the extra mile to put nutrition lesson plans into action through Farm to School programs and activities. If you need more ideas, be sure to check out 9 Ways to Celebrate Farm to School in the Classroom.

School Gardens Plant Seeds for Nutrition Lesson Plans 

From sprouting seeds on the window sill to dedicated garden areas, growing fruits and vegetables at school can inspire math, science, language arts and nutrition lesson plans. Teachers can incorporate school gardens into their nutrition lesson plans by asking elementary students to use the food picture cards to identify which food group the plants belong to, or encourage older students to plan or prepare balanced meals and snacks with the harvested ingredients.  les

Students who experience the growing cycle first hand via school gardens will have a greater appreciation for nature and farmers. Teachers can deepen the engagement by discussing how nutrients in the soil become vitamins necessary for healthy growth and development. 

Mobile Dairy Classroom Nutrition Lesson Plans

The Mobile Dairy Classroom assembly program offers students and teachers a chance to augment their classroom nutrition lessons by learning more about the dairy industry and how milk goes from cow to the cafeteria. After the presentation, enhance your nutrition lesson plans by asking students to sort through the food picture cards to identify all the foods that are made with milk. Extend the learning beyond milk and dairy foods by asking students to identify the farm sources of other favorite, healthy food group foods.

Connect Nutrition Lesson Plans to the Cafeteria

Farm to school programs in the cafeteria provide another possible connection for classroom nutrition lessons. Have students map the origins of certain local produce items available in school meals. Discuss what food products are produced close to the school district or county and ask the school foodservice staff whether those products are locally sourced. Determine whether or not foods from all the food groups could be sourced locally for balanced school meals. Ask students which local foods taste the best or compare fresh produce to frozen or canned  foods. Have students write about their experiences and impressions.

Using farm-to-school to enhance classroom nutrition lesson plans improves students' food literacy. If you have a school garden, have recently been visited by Mobile Dairy Classroom or have an active farm to school cafeteria connection, be sure to order nutrition lesson plans from Dairy Council of California.If you're still looking for activity ideas or connections, read 9 Ways to Celebrate Farm to School in the Classroom.

Tags: dairy food group foods nutrition lessons school meals
Categories: categoryNutrition Education

06, October 2014 10:02 AM

The fall season brings a harvest of healthy eating for kids and families alike. Use these recipes to plan and prepare healthy family meals featuring seasonal ingredients from all five food groups. This October, celebrate National Pork and Apple Month along with the harvest and Halloween with healthy, festive recipes the whole family will enjoy.

October Family Meals Preview
(All recipes and themes subject to change)  

National Pork Month

Grilled Pork Tenderloins with Maple Mustard Marinade, Glazed Sweet Potatoes and California Dried Plums with Ginger and Broccoli with Creamy Parmesan Sauce; plus Pork + Roasted Pears, Ham and Cheese Omelet Roll, Peanut Butter Pork Skewers and Chocolate Mocha Mudslides.

Harvest of Flavors

Coffee Braised Pot Roast with Caramelized Onions, Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Aged Cheddar with Apple Wedges and Cider Reduction; plus Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes, Cinnamon Stewed Apples, Baked Acorn Squash Stuffed with Quinoa and Cherries and Chicken Vegetable Soup with Ginger.

National Apple Month

Chicken Wrap with California Dried Plums and Apples served with Chickpea and Spinach Salad with Cumin Dressing and Yogurt Sauce and Apples + Cream Shakes; keep the doctor away all month long with Roasted Root Vegetables with Apple Juice, Apple Yogurt Coleslaw, Apple Sandwiches with Granola + Peanut Butter and Caramelized Apple and Toasted Walnut Brie.

From the Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin, Potato + Leek Soup, Green Beans + Pan Roasted Red Onions and Citrus Salad with Gingered Yogurt; plus Dinner in a Pumpkin, Good-for-You Pumpkin Rice, Pumpkin Milk Punch and Pumpkin Spice Cookies.

Tags: family meals Healthy eating recipes
Categories: categoryHealthy Eating

02, October 2014 3:12 PM

Dietitians' Book Review: Does The Pinterest Diet promote healthy eating?I belong to a book club with the San Jose Peninsula District Dietetic Association. We review popular book like the China Study, Wheat Belly and Paleo Diet. Our latest read was The Pinterest Diet by Mitzi Dulan, RD. We selected this book thinking it would be a fun summer read and several dietitians wanted to learn more about social media.

The Pinterest Diet is written in a fun, upbeat way and includes some great healthy eating ideas for people who like to cook. We especially like the concept of eating MSF (Most Satisfying Foods) everyday, i.e. foods that satisfy your hunger and provide a sense of fullness. 

The book also dedicates an entire chapter on the benefits of protein. We have a consensus among our group about the benefits of protein; that most consumers would benefit from shifting their food intake to include more protein- and fewer carbohydrate rich-foods. For some people, eating more protein helps with weight loss. 

Where We Agree

  1. This book can be highly motivating to some people, especially the tech savvy.
  2. Many of the quick, easy recipes look great.
  3. The chapter for healthy eating on budget could help many.
  4. The benefits of protein and including "Most Satisfying Foods" are winning ideas.
  5. Accommodating and encouraging planned indulgences aligns with our nutrition philosophy. 

Differences of Opinion

  1. Some claims in the book could set up many for failure. For example, "How to Pin Your Way Thin" is unrealistic. Some people will never be thin regardless of their eating and exercise habits. Many of the book club dietitians work with college age women who struggle with body image issues. One dietitian even has her students look at the bodies of female athletes and observe that they are not thin!
  2. The book is full of rules, and rules often don't work for people. For example, the author recommends that you don't eat past 7:30 pm. What if you work the night shift? 
  3. This book is great for someone who cooks and is looking for new recipes to keep motivated. Most of the registered dietitians however encounter people with very few cooking skills. What if you don't know how to cook?  Recipes don't help someone who has no culinary skills. Our group feels there is a great need for consumers to develop basic cooking skills and that TV cooking shows and books often offer suggestions that are too advanced.

The San Jose Registered Dietitians' Book Club agreed that while The Pinterest Diet offers some interesting ideas, it does not hold all the answers. The real challenge is how to get more people back in the kitchen, preparing balanced meals from all five food groups. 

How can we as nutrition educators promote healthy eating and fill this important community need?

Maureen Bligh, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Tags: Benefits of Protein Dietitians Book Review Healthy eating Maureen Bligh
Categories: categoryNutrition Education categoryMeals & Snacks

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