Our nutrition educators know that families struggling to make ends meet often have to make due with cheaper foods. That often means fewer nutrients but not necessarily fewer calories.
Nutrition Educator Anadeli Bautista shares her experience leading a group of seventh- through 11th-graders from East Austin College Preparatory Academy through the Food Bank’s newly revamped Power of Choice series.
The new curriculum uses the USDA’s MyPlate guidelines as a foundation to inform participants in making healthy food choices.
The class starts with a worksheet to help participants use their age, gender and amount of physical activity to estimate how much fuel their bodies need. This exercise not only determines the number of calories they should have each day, but the number of servings from each food group.
Anadeli says the students at East Austin College Prep were open minded and eager to learn. They asked great questions like “why do males need more calories than females?”
The answer, Anadeli tells us, is muscle mass. Generally, males have more muscle mass than females, and muscle burns more calories than fat. So males typically have a higher resting metabolism.
The class also teaches healthy portion sizes using household objects for comparison. A one-ounce serving of pasta, for example, is roughly the size of a computer mouse. And a 1/2 cup serving of vegetables is about as big as a light bulb.
“It is an easier method of recognizing our foods and portion sizes than having to take out our measuring cups and spoons at a restaurant and measuring our foods,” Anadeli says. “We would look silly doing that.”
Of course, not everyone was convinced these portions would be enough. Anadeli shared some of the students’ more amusing complaints: “I’m not going to get full with that.” “I’ll be hungry all day.” “I’ll starve to death.”
“We have gotten used to the huge portion sizes of our foods,” Anadeli says.
In fact, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, average American food portions have doubled or tripled over the last 20 years.
But rest assured, when you choose the right foods, these smaller portions are plenty to fuel a happy, healthy and productive life.
Speaking of fuel, check out this trail mix recipe Anadeli shared from her class. This wholesome snack only takes five minutes to make and combines whole grain oats, dried fruits and nuts for a healthy energy boost.
To learn more about our CHOICES nutrition program or to schedule a class in your area, contact Bilingual Nutritionist Vivian Noriega at 512-684-2538 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Serving Size: 1/2 cup
1 Tbsp. Honey roasted almonds
1 Tbsp. Dried cherries or sweetened, dried cranberries
1 Tbsp. Raisins
1 Tbsp. Dried apricots, cut into eighths
1 Tbsp. Whole grain toasted oat cereal
- Combine all ingredients, and mix well.
- Place portions into small plastic containers or sandwich bags for convenient, grab-and-go snacking.
Calories 137, Total Fat 5 g, Carbohydrates 24 g, Fiber 3 g, Protein 3 g, Sodium 31 mg, Cholesterol 0 mg
Adapted from www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org. Recipe modified by CHOICES Nutrition Education Program.