Saturday, October 25, 2014

MCFARLAND: Guidelines for food and drink

By REBECCA MCFARLAND, Reaching Out | 3/19/2014

As you might know, a healthful, balanced diet is essential to maintain a healthful weight and prevent chronic diseases. Numerous studies have demonstrated clear linkages between the amount and variety of fruits and vegetables consumed and rates of chronic diseases, especially cancer.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends four and one-half cups of fruits and vegetables daily. But, in Franklin County, only 12.9 percent of residents consume the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. Thus, in August 2013, the Franklin County Food Policy Council was formed. The council was created to address one of the priorities, healthful nutrition, from the regional Community Health Assessment and Community Health Improvement Plan (CHA CHIP). The council, of which I am a member, just released Food and Beverage Guidelines.

As you might know, a healthful, balanced diet is essential to maintain a healthful weight and prevent chronic diseases. Numerous studies have demonstrated clear linkages between the amount and variety of fruits and vegetables consumed and rates of chronic diseases, especially cancer.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends four and one-half cups of fruits and vegetables daily. But, in Franklin County, only 12.9 percent of residents consume the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. Thus, in August 2013, the Franklin County Food Policy Council was formed. The council was created to address one of the priorities, healthful nutrition, from the regional Community Health Assessment and Community Health Improvement Plan (CHA CHIP). The council, of which I am a member, just released Food and Beverage Guidelines.

The Franklin County Food Policy Council recommends that organizations adopt a policy that supports healthful nutritional choices for employees, visitors, volunteers and others. It has been demonstrated that nutritional status can be improved when access to healthful choices is increased. The benefits of improved nutritional status include weight control, diabetes control and hypertension reduction among many others. The document is adapted from the Kansas Health Foundation Guidelines to be used for concession sales, meetings and other events. It took more than 20 years for our population to fully adopt unhealthy habits. With your help, it will take fewer years to reverse the trend.

Organizations might want to start slowly by ensuring that at least 20 percent of foods offered meet these guidelines and to provide education to your constituents about this effort to improve the health of our community. The guidelines are as follows:

Beverages

Organization funds may not be used to purchase soft drinks (regular or diet) or sports/energy drinks.

Snacks

If organization funds are used to purchase and provide snack foods, the organization would avoid serving calorie-dense, low-nutrition snacks (donuts, cookies, candy, chips, full-fat ice cream, cake, etc.). Healthful snack foods typically include:

• Fresh fruits and vegetables;

• Whole grain foods;

• Nuts and seeds (with low sodium or no added salt); and

• Low-fat dairy products.

It is recommended pre-packaged snack foods be served in portion sizes of 200 calories or less.

Catered/prepared meals

If organization funds are used to purchase catered or prepared meals, the organization will work with food providers to offer healthful meal options. The following recommendations provide general guidance regarding meal options. If desired, the organization could conduct additional research to find more detailed healthy meal recommendations from other organizations.

Recommendations include:

• Prepare foods in a way that minimizes cholesterol, trans-fat and saturated fat;

• Seafood may be a healthy alternative to meat and poultry; and

• Provide a vegetarian meal option.

Ensure meals include one or more of the following:

• Fresh fruit;

• Dark green, red, and orange vegetables;

• Beans and peas;

• Select whole grain options over refined grain; and

• Serve desserts in reasonable portion sizes.

For assistance in adopting a policy for your organization, contact the Franklin County Food Policy Council at (785) 229-3530.

Rebecca McFarland is the family and consumer sciences extension agent for Frontier Extension District No. 11, which serves Franklin County. For more information, call her at (785) 229-3520 or email rmcfarla@ksu.edu

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