Nutrition education is a fun part of my job. Earlier in the week I visited seventh grade Skills for Adolescence classes at the Great Bend Middle School. I packed a lot of information in the 50-minute class period and am hopeful that they will remember my visit when making future food choices.
I started out by asking the students if they had eaten breakfast. Only about half of them raised their hands so they got my five minute “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” speech. The most common reason given for skipping breakfast was the lack of time. I encouraged students to find something like a piece of fruit with whole grain cereal or toast with peanut butter to jump start their day. Research shows that when someone starts their day with breakfast, they actually consume less calories in the day. All too often, when breakfast is skipped, a person gets so hungry that by lunch time they are grabbing an unhealthy option.
The main part of my presentation focused on my favorite food group – vegetables. Sadly, the American diet is lacking in nutrient dense veggies. The MyPlate guide for healthy eating recommends eating at least five to nine servings of vegetables and fruits each day. Talking about vegetables is one thing, but letting the students sample parsnip, jicama, and sweet potato, was a new experience for some. Plus we made a recipe of hummus to dip their veggies in.
Another message I left with the seventh graders was the importance of choosing whole food options instead of eating highly processed food that have added fat, sugar and sodium. We talked about empty calories that are found in soft drinks and other sweetened beverages. We looked at nutrition fact labels to show how to determine if the food is a healthy choice.
And finally, we talked about making sure each day has a good amount of physical activity built in. Recommendations are currently set for one hour of physical activity daily. If students don’t participate in an organized sport, they may need to find ways to move more.
If you or someone you know is interested in doing nutrition education I hope you will visit the following website: www.ksre.k-state.edu/jobs.
There you will find the position description and application process for a full time SNAP-Ed nutrition educator based in either our Hays or Great Bend office. The screening begins immediately and will continue until the position is filled. Please give me a call if you have any questions!
Donna Krug is the Family & Consumer Science Agent with K-State Research and Extension – Cottonwood District. Contact her at 620-793-1910 or [email protected].