Online Training - We Can!® Energize Our Families: Parent Program
Chapter 6: Parent Program Session 3: What to Feed My Family—ENERGY IN
Welcome to Chapter 6 of the Parent Program online training. This is a discussion of Session 3 of the Parent Program–What to Feed My Family: ENERGY IN.
Session 3 of the Parent Program focuses on the ENERGY IN part of the Energy Balance equation. The leader will go over some recommendations for daily eating and then explore with parents ways to reduce Energy In by cutting back on fat and added sugar.
Parents will learn about the Nutrition Facts label and be introduced to the concept of GO, SLOW, and WHOA foods. The goal is for participants to become more thoughtful about what their families eat, and learn how to choose healthy meals and recipes to help their families maintain a healthy weight.
In this session, parents will review recommendations for making healthy food choices. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend an eating pattern that emphasizes fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free and low-fat milk and milk products; includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, and nuts; and is low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugar.
To make it simpler for people to follow these Dietary Guidelines, they were translated into recommended eating plans.
The handout in Session 3 provides a sample eating plan for 2,000 calories using both the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA, Food Guide and the NHLBI DASH, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, Eating Plan. It shows the recommended foods and serving sizes for an individual consuming 2,000 calories a day.
A chart from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans on the Estimated Calorie Requirements is also available and shows how many calories are required for males and females at each age group depending on the level of physical activity, from sedentary to active.
During this session, participants will learn how to use this chart so they can modify the recommended servings in each of the food plans according to the particular calorie needs of the individual.
More information and handouts on these resources are available in the Leader’s Guide.
While the Dietary Guidelines and the Daily Eating Plans recommend reducing foods high in fat and added sugar in order to reduce calories, it’s important that parents understand what this really means and how to manage it. It’s one thing to talk about cutting back on fats and added sugars, but quite another to get people to actually change their behavior.
The Leader’s Guide offers suggestions for group discussions and activities. They focus on:
- Reducing overall intake of fat and added sugars,
- Reducing the portion size of foods that are high in fat or added sugar, and
- Substituting recipe ingredients that are high in fat and added sugar with those that are lower in fat and sugar.
Eating foods that are high in fat or added sugar can make if difficult to maintain Energy Balance because these foods and drinks are often also high in calories. Each gram of fat equals nine calories, while each gram of sugar provides four. Limiting the amount of fat you eat is a great way to limit your calorie intake.
Session 3 includes a variety of activities to illustrate how to cut back on fat and added sugars.
You can ask your participants to share what foods are high in fat and sugar. You can share these foods if they are not mentioned:
- Fried foods
- Fatty meats
- Milk products made with whole milk (whole milk, cheese)
- Added fats in cooking and at the table (oils, butter, margarine)
- Soda and sweets (doughnuts, cake, cookies, ice cream, candy)
- Sugar-added foods (cereal, baked goods, snacks)
It is hard to maintain energy balance if you eat many of these foods, especially if you are NOT active enough to burn off the calories.
A very important tool that parents learn to understand in this session is the Nutrition Facts label. As the leader, you will need to teach the parents in your group the various pieces of useful information found on the label, including the serving size, how many calories are in a serving as well as the amounts of fat, both saturated and trans fat, sugar, and other nutrients. How does that amount compare to the percent daily value or percent DV?
Parents learn how to read the label, and how to use the information when deciding which foods to purchase.
One way to make this part of the session even more relevant and engaging is to ask parents ahead of time to bring in some of their own food packages from home.
Another key concept in the We Can! Parent Program is GO, SLOW, and WHOA foods. Here is an overview of what we mean by GO, SLOW, and WHOA foods:
- GO foods are lowest in fat and sugar, and relatively low in calories. They are great to eat anytime! GO foods include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, non-fat or low-fat milk and other dairy products, and lean meats.
- SLOW foods are higher in fat, added sugar, and calories. They are good to have sometimes—at most, a few times a week. Examples include dried fruit, eggs cooked without fat, vegetables with sauce, and 2% milk.
- WHOA foods are highest in fat, added sugar, and calories. They should be eaten once in a while, in small portions. Baked goods, fried foods, whole milk, and soda are examples of WHOA foods.
The GO, SLOW, and WHOA Foods Chart is a tool that will assist parents in making smart ENERGY IN decisions and creating their weekly meal plans.
The GO, SLOW, and WHOA Foods Chart also shows how the preparation of foods can turn a GO food into a SLOW or WHOA food. This chart is very useful for making healthy eating decisions, particularly when there is no Nutrition Facts label, as is the case for many prepared foods.
Take, for example, a plain baked potato. It is a GO food and low in fat and added sugar. Adding one teaspoon of butter and one teaspoon of sour cream to a plain potato can turn it into a SLOW food. Making French fries changes it to a WHOA food.
U R What U Eat, an adaptation of the GO, SLOW, and WHOA Foods Chart, is specifically designed for children, and uses pictures of the foods to explain the GO, SLOW, and WHOA concept. This is a helpful resource for parents to use in the home with their children, and is available on the We Can! website.
Download U R What U Eat (1.4 MB)
Program leaders at C.H.O.I.C.E.S., a We Can! General Community Site in Kennesaw, Georgia, brought the concept of GO, SLOW, and WHOA foods to life by using visual aids such as colorful pictures of foods or actual food items from each of the three groups.
Here’s one of the activities to illustrate how to cut back on fat.
If you switch from 3 ounces of sausage to 3 ounces of skinless chicken breast, you will have reduced your ENERGY IN by about 160 calories. That’s more than the calories in the entire chicken breast itself. If you made a change like this every day, you could reduce your ENERGY IN by about 1,100 calories per week.
Here’s another example. This one is a good visual demonstration of how to cut back on sugar.
If you drink one regular 12 ounce soda every day, how much sugar is that in a year?
The answer is 30 pounds of sugar!
Now, you can take this example and carry it further to show the impact small changes can have on weight.
How much weight would you lose in a year if you switched from 12 ounce regular sodas to water or calorie-free beverages but kept everything else the same? The answer is about 15 ½ pounds.
You can then ask the group to come up with suggestions for substitutions they can make to cut back on sugar and fat.
At the Sleeping Ute Mountain Indian Reservation in Towaoc, Colorado, program leaders developed a 3-D poster that shows the sugar in beverages. This poster travels with the facilitator whenever she leads programs at the reservation, and always gets a great response from parents.
Now that you’ve reached this point in the Parent Program, you will have spent a fair amount of time talking to parents about extra calories in the form of fat and sugar in familiar foods, and strategies for cutting back on fat and added sugar. In the remainder of the session, you can take the time to discuss healthy meal preparation. The We Can! program has several handouts to help you with this.
During the session, participants will also have an opportunity to share the successes and personal challenges they’ve faced in making changes to their family’s eating behavior and physical activities.
Leaders at the We Can! City program in Caguas, Puerto Rico, help parents take the next step in bringing healthy foods home by organizing class trips to the local supermarket. A nutritionist accompanies them and shows them how to read the Nutrition Facts label while shopping, how to compare foods, and how to choose new foods to share with their families.
One of the handouts you can focus on is We Can! Prepare Healthier Recipes.
- Using this handout to make the session more interactive, you can ask parents to point out the ways that calories, fat, and sugar were reduced in the modified lasagna, salad, and cookie recipes.
- To further the group’s understanding, ask them to think about and share how they can make healthier recipe substitutions in their own recipes.
When discussing healthy meal choices and recipes, the New Beginnings Ministries Church, a We Can! intensive community site in Memphis, Tennessee, uses Heart Healthy Home Cooking African American Style. This colorful cookbook from the NHLBI contains recipes for 26 tested and tasty favorite African American dishes and is available on the NHLBI website. Site leaders even prepared the Mock-Southern Sweet Potato Pie for their annual community seminar on healthy holiday eating and heard back that it tasted great!
The NHLBI also offers other healthy cooking recipe books that are available for purchase or download on its website, including Delicious Heart Healthy Latino Recipes and Keep the Beat: Heart Healthy Recipes from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.