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Nutrition fuels next phase of health, wellness promotion

As the Get Moving CHFS! physical activity program draws to a close, employees are encouraged to start thinking about and planning for the next component of the ongoing CHFS Worksite Health and Wellness promotion.

Now that we’re exercising more and enjoying the benefits of increased physical activity, it’s important to examine and, if necessary, modify the type and quantity of fuel we’re giving our bodies to keep us moving.

Nutrition is the sister ingredient of physical activity and together, they make up the two most vital aspects of a healthy lifestyle that can be maintained throughout life.

The CHFS health and wellness emphasis on nutrition will take the form of the 5 A Day Challenge, co-sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and Produce for Better Health Foundation and the largest national public-private nutrition education program ever launched. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has a role in promoting the program by working with and assisting states with their 5 A Day programs and incorporating 5 A Day programming into its comprehensive nutrition and physical activity grants.

The CHFS 5 A Day Challenge nutrition project officially begins July 5.

At its core, the CHFS 5 A Day Challenge seeks to increase to five or more servings the quantity of fruits and vegetables employees and their families eat each day.  In addition, the program offers helpful hints and nutritional information that further support already compelling evidence that eating fruits and vegetables can improve overall health and may reduce the risk of cancer.

Several Kentucky district health departments have sponsored successful 5 A Day Challenge programs, including Northern Kentucky, Central Kentucky, Barren River, Lexington-Fayette County and Purchase. All 55 local health departments in Kentucky have provided community activities centered around 5 A Day for the last two years.

Follow-up surveys were conducted at the conclusion of each challenge to track participants’ success. In the Central Kentucky health district, participants reported an increase in consumption of fruits and vegetables from 28 percent before the program to 66 percent two months after completion.

During the course of the CHFS 5 A Day Challenge, participants will be encouraged to increase both their consumption of fruits and vegetables as well as their awareness of the health benefits this single lifestyle change can offer, such as:

  • Reduces the risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension, birth defects, Alzheimer’s disease, cataracts, diverticulosis, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and osteoporosis.
  • Helps with weight loss and healthy weight maintenance.
  • Increases intake of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (plant nutrients that assist in prevention of chronic disease).
  • Overall improvement in employee health, leading to leading to fewer sick days and increased productivity.
Recipes, quick dish and meal preparation ideas, tips on what to look for when selecting fresh produce, nutritional values of various fruits and veggies and more information will be offered as part of the education component of the CHFS 5 A Day Challenge.

Keep reading Focus on Wellness for more news on plans for the CHFS 5 A Day Challenge launch and the other health and wellness activities and opportunities being planned for the interim period between Get Moving  CHFS! and the 5 A Day Challenge.

Team eating! What a concept!

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.

Serving size and portion control

Serving size and portion control:
What you need to know for the 5 A Day Challenge

How do know if you are eating 5 A DAY? You may be eating more than you think! The CHFS 5 A Day Challenge begins July 5 and ends August 8.

To track your fruit and vegetable intake for the 5 A Day Challenge, it's important to understand serving sizes. One serving is equal to:
  • 1 cup raw fruit or vegetable
  • 1 medium piece of fruit
  • 1/2 cup cooked or canned fruit or vegetable
  • 3/4 cup or 6 oz. 100 percent juice
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit
For those who don't carry around measuring and weighing devices, there are some easy visual comparisons to judge serving sizes.

One medium-size piece of fruit or one cup of raw vegetable is about the size of a tennis ball.

A half-cup of cooked or canned fruit or vegetables is about the size of half a tennis ball.

One-fourth cup of dried fruit is about the size of two walnut shells.

If you are already eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, challenge yourself to eat more. Five servings a day is just the minimum federal dietary recommendation for fruit and vegetable consumption. The optimal recommendation is nine servings a day.

How to tally your intake
Teams and individuals participating in the CHFS 5 A Day Challenge will keep track of daily fruit and vegetable servings using a tally form similar to the PAM forms used during the Get Moving CHFS! physical activity event.

Team members will fill out their 5 A Day tally forms each week and forward the forms to their team captains.

Team captains will tally all team members' weekly servings and turn in team tally forms to the Wellness Committee each week. The team goal is for each person to record at least 35 servings of fruits and vegetables a week for a team minimum total of 140.

Are you up to the challenge?
Eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day:
  • Provides energy;
  • Makes you healthier;
  • Helps reduce the risk of disease and illness;
  • May reduce signs of aging; and
  • Helps achieve or maintian a healthy weight.
For more information please contact Elizabeth Fiehler at elizabethj.fiehler@ky.gov or attend the June 29 Lunch and Learn session at noon in the cafeteria conference room.