Friday, July 21, 2017

Our FAN Kickoff Was a Success! by Lacy Ngo

We had all kinds of goodies on our FAN table. We had several handouts available including a handout that provided tips on how to be an active kid, and a handout that showed what a healthy plate should look like. By the way, the “Myplate” recommends about half your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables; one forth of your plate should be filled with grains (whole grains whenever possible); and one forth of your plate should be filled with lean proteins. The dairy is included as a cup of skim milk on the side. Other forms of dairy can be added to food as the dairy source as well.
The biggest hit of our FAN table, however, was the fruit, granola, and Greek yogurt parfaits. All ages were raving about the parfaits.
We even had a FAN survey to find out what ways our church members hope the FAN program can help. We discovered that people are interested in continuing to offer fitness opportunities in the church like the dance classes and the chair fitness classes as well as adding a new activity that can be modified for those that want higher intensity or for those who want lower intensity. We discovered that while our church members love and look forward to the 3rd Sunday donuts, some feel that they would stay and mingle more if there was a healthy option available. According to the feedback, members would rather receive help through awareness, reminders, and encouragement instead of implementing actual nutrition and fitness policies.
Since the FAN program announcement, I am pleasantly surprised at how much just having these recent reminders has encouraged all of us, including me, to make better choices. Here are a few changes I have ALREADY seen:
* The volunteers for the annual ice cream social decided to offer a salad AND ice cream  at the social this year.
* Bananas were offered at an early morning meeting
* The book club social provided healthy appetizers that were heavy on the vegetables.
* The candy that is often given out to children after a children’s activity was replaced with another option.
* Healthy snacks were offered to the children this year during the annual skills camp.
* We have been providing more roasted chicken verses fried for our meals.
* More healthy choices were provided at the Contemporary Service snack table.
These are just a few that I noticed since the FAN program was announced. Way to go St. John’s UMC!
On the FAN table, we also provided a box for any nutrition questions our members might have. We were approached with many great nutrition questions. I was so pleased with all the interest. The questions and answers are below:
1.     What are the benefits of Greek yogurt?
·      Yogurt is a great source of protein, calcium, and probiotics, and for those hoping to lose weight, Greek yogurt is filling, meaning you will feel fuller on less calories. Moreover, Greek yogurt has zero saturated fat and cholesterol. Greek yogurt has fewer carbohydrates and sugar and more protein than yogurt.
2.     Is yogurt healthy? What about GMOs?
First, you may wonder, what are GMOs. GMOs are genetically modified or genetically engineered foods. GMO plants are beneficial because they can tolerate heat, cold, drought, pesticides and herbicides. They can also increase shelf life, control pollination, decrease the need for pesticides, improve the growth and yield of crops, and can even improve nutritional quality of the food. By being able to improve the growth and yield of crops, using GMO plants can help meet the needs of an ever-expanding population. The benefits of GMOs are many, but are they safe? GMO foods have been around since 1996, and have been studied for years. So what does the science say after reviewing the research? According to the World Health Organization, each GMO is different and should be assessed on a case-by-case basis; however, the GMO foods currently available on the international market have passed safety assessments and are not likely to present risk to humans. We should continue to study GMOs to gather more long-term data. The take home message is eating a GMO vegetable or yogurt made with milk from GMO fed cows is still much healthier than eating a giant sausage biscuit and tater tots for breakfast. If GMOs still make you uncomfortable, look for the organic label. Either way you are still eating more fruits and vegetables, which is benefiting your health.
3.     Is the sugar in yogurt okay?

The short answer is that just like fruit, dairy naturally contains sugar, but yogurt, like fruit, naturally contains so many important nutrients and benefits as well so avoiding these foods for health reasons would be counter productive. However some yogurt have added sugar along with the sugar naturally in yogurt. Unfortunately, food labels only list TOTAL sugar, not added sugar. The good news is that sometime in 2018 nutrition labels will actually list the amount of added sugar. In the meantime, compare labels and look for the higher protein, lower total sugar yogurts. Also, remember to eat everything in moderation. Many “good” foods have pros AND cons so avoid overeating in general. The take home message is that yes, yogurt has natural sugar, but if you have limited your honeybun to only occasionally and have started regularly eating fruit and yogurt instead, good job! You are now getting a filling food with great nutritional benefits vs. an empty calorie honeybun.