Last Week with Extension!

During my last week with Extension we had the opportunity to attend a WOW (Women On Wellness) Retreat, meet up with HSTA (Health Science Technology Academy), and teach nutrition lessons at day camp for 4-H.

For the WOW retreat I had the opportunity to administer balance/fall risk assessments in the morning and teach three nutrition education sessions in the afternoon. For the educational session we chose to demo healthy snacks that fit with our “Healthy Red Foods for Heart Health” theme. We decided to demo a healthy homemade red bean salsa, frozen grapes and watermelon balls (for a healthy, refreshing dessert!), and a red drink with juice and club soda. We discussed with the participants the benefits of a heart healthy diet and what a heart healthy diet looks like. We covered the main points such as fat, cholesterol, sodium, and fiber and the participants were very receptive and came with lots of questions! Overall, this was a great opportunity and a very fun day; we even had the opportunity to go on a mini-kayaking trip, enjoy a chair massage, and meet many other women from all different backgrounds! If you ever have the opportunity to attend a WOW retreat, or something similar, I would highly recommend it!

One afternoon this past week we had the opportunity to meet up with HSTA to join in on their BioMed class to tour the WVU medical training facilities and cadaver lab. The cadaver lab was an eye-opening experience for the high school students and myself. I had only been through one cadaver lab but had never had a hands-on lesson. I was able to feel the difference between a healthy heart and heart full of atherosclerosis and so much more! In addition to the cadaver lab, I had no idea all the technology they had available to their students. They have three medical models that run anywhere from $90,000 to $250,000 each! These are life size models that have heart rates and can breathe in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. They can respond to variety of medications and act out thousands of conditions. These are crucial to experiential learning that should be utilized by all health professionals in training. Here is a picture of the child model who goes by the name of Chucky (can you guess why?)!


Each day during the week we spent the mornings teaching four 40-minutes classes to 4-H campers who were between the ages of six and nine. During this time period we were responsible for selecting snacks that could be prepared on an outdoor picnic table by the kids that they would save for snack time later on in the afternoon. We made a variety of snacks such as trail mix, bean dip, yogurt parfaits, turkey wraps, and fruit salsa with cinnamon chips. We taught the kids about MyPlate, eating the rainbow, the drink pyramid, and even brought in “exotic” fruit for tasting. It was surprising to learn how many of the food items that the kids had never tried. For example, there were many students who didn’t know what cream cheese was. This was a great opportunity to introduce these kids to eating healthy and to provide them the chance to try many foods that they don’t normally eat.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Extension and loved the fact that everyday was a new adventure! It is definitely a great place to work for anyone seeking a job in community nutrition.


Hula Hooping for Weight Loss?

This past week I had the opportunity to accompany the exercise physiologist to WVU Jackson’s Mill to State 4-H camp to teach a weighted hula hoop class! Yes, that’s right…the hula hoops are actually weighted, about 3 lbs. There is actually a video and a workout specially designed with these hoops. It involves hula hooping while doing various exercises such as kickboxing, squats, arm movements, and the list goes on. There are also moves designed to incorporate the use of the hula hoop in “unconventional” ways. For example, the hula hoop can be held above the head and used for a shoulder press, tricep press, and used for squats. Now, to give you an example of what in world this new phenomenon looks like I have attached multiple (embarrassing!) videos of my infamous attempts and the various moves for your enjoyment!

I have to admit the day after my hula hoop workout I felt like my ribs, hip bones were bruised! I think you would get used to it if you did if on a regular basis – just like riding a bike! Also, I am not an expert hula hooper and have not tried a regular hula hoop in years…BUT I do have to admit that the weighted hula hoops seem easier to keep up than the super light regular ones! If you are ever in a “work-out slump” and bored with your normal routines maybe you can try this (or if you are just need of a good laugh!)

4-H Camp: Fun With Food!

This past week Erin and I spent the mornings teaching classes at 4-H camp to kids from 3rd to 7th grade. The class was titled “Fun with Food.” Each day covered a nutrition lesson, an activity, and made a recipe for a healthy snack. We had ten kids in each class and taught two hour-long classes each day.

The first lesson covered MyPlate. For an activity we had the kids create their own version of MyPlate with foods they enjoy eating on a paper plate. We also played a game that involved tossing the ball to one another and quickly naming a food in the chosen food group. For example, if the category was “vegetables” then if the ball was thrown to you, you had to name a vegetable and then toss the ball to someone else. If you couldn’t name one then you were out for that round. The kids really enjoyed this because it got them moving! For a snack that day we made fruit and vegetable pizzas using whole-wheat bagel thins, low-fat cream cheese, and a variety of fruits, vegetables, and almonds.



MyPlate Drawings

Snack Line

Fruit and Vegetable Pizza

On Wednesday, we covered measuring skills and healthy drink choices. We taught the lesson by breaking up into two groups and making banana-blueberry muffins. The kids were very excited and really enjoyed helping make a recipe. We adapted the recipe found here to use whole-wheat flour instead. This lesson taught me a few very important lessons about baking with kids. The first thing I learned, is to ALWAYS have more ingredients than you need! For example, the boy who volunteered to crack the egg in my group clearly had never actually done it before; I was fooled by his confidence! He calmly grabbed the egg and slammed it on the table. I have to admit that I was not expecting that! We all laughed and helped to clean it up and luckily we happen to have just one extra egg that day! Another lesson I learned is that kids are very clumsy. Things were constantly being spilt and dropped. It was a great learning experience and a very fun week! For the activity we played a cup-stacking relay game in two teams.

The New Drink Pyramid



On Thursday we covered how to read a nutrition label. We discussed the important components to look for and talked about healthier options. We played a game where we had to match the nutrition label with the food item that it belonged to. This was difficult for the kids and some kids were very interested while others could care less. We also played a guessing game about how many calories and how much fat were in fast food items. The kids really enjoyed this and were shocked how many calories were in these common items. This day we fruit salsa with cinnamon chips. This recipe was so….good! I highly recommend it everyone! We baked our chips in a muffin pan (because we forgot the baking sheets) but they turned out wonderful!

Food Label Reference Guide
<div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”; title=”Nutrition facts presentation” target=”_blank”>Nutrition facts presentation</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”; target=”_blank”>Wendy Thompson</a></strong> </div>

Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Chips - Click for Recipe

Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Chips – Click for Recipe

Friday’s lesson covered basic food safety tips and how to make healthy meals from common leftover items in the fridge. We created a print out of a fridge stocked with food and had the kids pick food items and explain how they would assemble them into a meal that followed the MyPlate guidelines. This gave us the opportunity to discuss how to select healthier options such as milk selection, beverage selection (100% juice vs. juice cocktail), and got them thinking creatively. This day we had the kids create their own smoothies. We offered ingredients such as: strawberries, pineapple, milk, orange juice, carrots, broccoli, spinach, and cucumbers. Surprisingly enough, many kids actually included many of the vegetables in their smoothies and really liked it!

Leftovers Game

Overall this experience was a great learning lesson and I had a blast teaching the kids. In two weeks we will have the opportunity to teach day camp for the younger children!

What Comes First… Obesity or Insulin Resistance?

I ran across this video today and based on my interest in PCOS I found it particularly interesting. This is a doctor who shares his background and speaks to surface a new hypothesis that obesity might be a coping mechanism and not the main issue in some people. He admits how he lacked empathy and was very judgmental to overweight individuals in the past. This is an amazing video that is a great eye opener to everyone, especially healthcare providers.

NEMS – Nutrition Environment Measures Study

As part of my community nutrition rotation through WVU Extension I had the opportunity to become trained on conducting the Nutrition Environment Measures Study (NEMS). After spending about six hours online learning the background of the survey and how to use the tool I was ready to venture into the community. For our first time out we joined a Masters in Public Health student to test our skills. The MPH student has been conducting these for about two years and is very well versed when it comes to NEMS. We accompanied her on visits to large grocery stores, small convenience stores, and local restaurants.

This survey was created to be able to assess a wide-range of nutrition environment. A nutrition environment can be defined as places in a community where individuals can purchase food items. NEMS focuses on recording the type of food outlet, the availability of healthy food choices, nutrition information, and the marketing of different foods.  The objectives of the original NEMS were to:

  • Develop measures of nutrition environments and survey retail and food service outlets (stores and restaurants)
  • Test the inter-rater and test-retest reliability of NEMS instruments
  • Examine sampling and generalizability issues

When we went into a food establishment (restaurant or grocery store) we would go through a packet of question that assessed the size of the establishment, prices, options available for produce, milk, bread, cereal, meats, hot dogs, juice, soda and baked goods. These assessments can take over an hour to complete for the larger grocery stores because of their tedious nature and length.

I am glad I had the opportunity to partake in this data collection process and feel confident that I am able to conduct these surveys on my own in the weeks to come!

Grocery Store Shopping