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by Dragyn
Rated: ASR · Article · Health · #2203862
Speech for tonight
So now that we've covered unhealthy eating, it's time to focus on what the chapter was titled after- healthy eating, and how to promote it! That's our core concept. If we wanted to access information on it

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it's important, firstly, to know that MyPlate has replaced the Food Pyramid, or MyPyramid. I don't know if any of you remember being in health class and the teacher talking to us about the food pyramid and what foods we should be eating more or less of, but that's not really how it works anymore. Now, if you look at the MyPlate diagram, you want pretty much an equal serving of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and grains- and notice how the diagram says "grains" instead of "carbs," because we're talking more about whole grains than we are actual carbs. You'll also notice the vegetable portion is slightly larger than the others, because we want more vegetables and fibers in our system.

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MyPlate is not only a diagram telling us how to eat- it's actually a website as well, funded by the USDA, which has lots of helpful resources, like the MyPlate Plan, where you can input you age, sex, and physical activity level, and it will tell you approximately how many calories you should be eating every day. Granted, every body is different, which is why this is an estimate, and it does not tell you how much of everything you should be eating every day, which makes it less of a food "plan" and more of a food guideline.

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Another very important aspect of healthy eating is understanding how to read nutrition labels. I remember being at the breakfast table as a kid and just reading through the nutrition labels for fun because I liked reading- I didn't actually understand what was going into my body as I ate Coco Puffs or Frosted Flakes, but they sure tasted good! While I probably wouldn't change my childhood foods, I will say that it's a good idea to understand what exactly these nutrition labels are saying. That's why it's a federal requirement that businesses start using this new label format beginning in 2020. This diagram is explained by a registered dietitian, or RD. For the most part, the font is larger, the different nutrients and statistics are clearer, which makes it easier to read. Companies are also reassessing portion sizes, so if something was previously labelled as multiple servings but typically consumed in one sitting, the new label would reflect that the item is now one serving, then adjust the other numbers accordingly.

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So now that we've discussed how to seek out healthier food, it's also good to assess what contributes to unhealthy eating. As Richard previously mentioned, a poor diet and physical inactivity are the two leading factors of unhealthy lifestyles. Also, food insecurity, campus provisions, access to quality foods, and portion sizes are all additional factors. Another big one, as you'll see later, is the media.

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Even though campus provisions are a factor leading to unhealthy eating, schools can also contribute to healthy eating. There are two levels to this- at the school-wide level, and at the classroom level. First, we'll discuss the the school-wide level.

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On the School-wide level, we have the School Health Guidelines from the CDC. In essence, the guidelines promote healthy eating and physical activity. On the school-wide level, the school can provide safe spaces to play and be active, because not all communities have such a public area where there's both the safety and space for kids to actively engage in physical activity. Schools can also provide a lunch and breakfast program, which is something Richard mentioned. However, if schools wish to receive funding for these food programs, all meals must meet federal nutrition standards! Two more important factors towards a healthy lifestyle is to encourage, but not stigmatize healthy eating, physical activity, and a body- and ability- positive environment. There are so many modifications someone can make to any activity to adapt it towards someone who does not fit the standard mold of an able-bodied person, so if a school tries hard enough, anybody can feel safe while being active, which also makes it more enjoyable.

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Two more programs that encourage schools to provide healthier food options are Team Nutrition and the Healthier US Schools Challenge, or HUSSC. Team Nutrition focuses more on supporting the liason between teachers and staff on how to promote health in schools, while HUSSC sets criterias for schools to meet in order to be considered for national recognition and monetary incentives. Frequently, schools enroll in Team Nutrition and then apply for HUSSC to show that they have created, and are still promoting, healthier food options and physical activity in the school.

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When kids are in school, it's important that their classrooms also reflect the school values, so we're now going to discuss the ways classrooms can teach healthy eating and physical activity. Going back to the importance of reading the nutrition labels, it's also important to know what those words on the labels mean. For example, bread, pasta, and cake are all carbs, but so are potatoes and corn. However, potatoes and corn also fall under the "vegetables" category, and depending on how you use the vegetable, it can also fall under other categories. This goes to show that there needs to be a conscious knowledge of what is on a plate, because whatever is going on that plate is going into someone's mouth and into their body. The Dietary Guidelines for America from 2015 suggested eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy, and seafood or legumes for protein, while eating less of foods with significant amounts of added sugar, saturated fat, or sodium.

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More of that can be seen here in this visual taken from our textbook- it explains how much of each type of food is suggested or ideal for students at varying ages.

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Food and nutrition, as you might have noticed, is very complicated! Therefore, there is no shame in saying "I don't know" and finding out new information together with your students. It's better to say I don't know and find the right answer, than take a guess and provide potentially incorrect information! It's also important to check for understanding. There was a kindergarten teacher who tried telling her students about what was considered "unhealthy" food, and she generalized it as, if it makes a grease stain on a napkin, it's considered unhealthy. Fair enough, right? Her student went home that day, and in the car ride home, the kid was eating potato chips- but testing them on a napkin first. If it made a stain, she tossed it out the window. If it didn't, she'd eat it. Granted, the student was following what the teacher said, but it looks like she missed the bigger picture.

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