NOTE: 5 A Day Challenge focus on nutrition begins July 5
The 5 A Day program was launched as a national nutrition campaign in 1991 to encourage increased consumption of fruits and vegetables as a way to fight disease and help people improve their overall health and well being. Sponsored by Produce for Better Health and the National Cancer Institute, the program challenges participants to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day as part of a healthy diet. The current national daily recommendation is for people to consume 5-9 servings a day.
The Cabinet for Health and Family Services has adopted the 5 A Day Challenge as the focus activity for the next phase of our worksite health and wellness promotion. The nutrition program will kick off July 5.
"We hope the concept of team eating will be too tempting a challenge for people to ignore," said Emma Walters, chairwoman of the worksite wellness nutrition subcommittee.
The cabinet's emphasis on nutrition follows an eight-week physical activity program that, by all accounts, was a great success.
By adding good nutrition to a lifestyle that already includes regular, vigorous physical activity, 5 A Day Challenge participants will have conquered two of the most detrimental barriers to good health: inactivity and poor nutrition.
Like Get Moving CHFS!, the CHFS 5 A Day Challenge will take a team approach. Teams of four will record their fruit and vegetable intake over five weeks and those who achieve the 5 A Day goal will be eligible for prize drawings.
Serving size and portion control are very important aspects of this program, Walters said. Not everyone realizes exactly what constitutes a serving size, as determined by national Food and Drug Administration standards. Current standards can be complicated, so the CHFS 5 A Day program will offer information including easy-to-follow serving size guidelines and comparisons to familiar objects to help participants judge serving sizes as closely as possible without having to measure and weigh their food.
There are numerous benefits associated with increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables to at least five servings a day. Eating more fruit and vegetables may reduce the risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension, birth defects, Alzheimer's disease, cataracts, diverticulosis, diabetes and osteoporosis.
Fruits and vegetables are low in fat and calories and contain fiber, so eating more of them may help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. These foods are also full of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, all essential to good health. Eating from five to nine servings of fruit and vegetables a day may even help protect against some of the effects of aging and slow down the progress of some of the inevitable signs and effects of aging!
"The goal of the CHFS 5 A Day program is to educate ourselves about the enormous value fruits and vegetables have as part of a healthy lifestyle," Walters said. "We hope more people will eat more fruits and vegetables as a result of this program and, perhaps even replace some less-healthy foods with more healthy choices and, ultimately, feel better for it."
Walters said she hopes CHFS employees will start thinking now about the 5 A Day program and make up their minds to both participate and succeed at this challenge.
"It's not too early to talk to coworkers about forming teams," she said. "Find three other enthusiastic team members who are also willing to accept the challenge and start training now by enjoying the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables currently in season."
Watch the Focus on Wellness for more updates on the 5 A Day Challenge.