Sarasota YMCA: HIPPY Families Focus on Nutrition and Staying Healthy

Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters, or HIPPY, is a parent-based literacy program for low-income parents of preschoolers.  InSarasota, HIPPY families, considered to be the poorest of the poor, face barriers of poverty, as well as struggles associated with lower literacy rates, lower educational attainment levels and higher incidences of substance abuse and crime.

Many low-literate adults can get lost in the healthcare system, lose their benefits and endanger their lives and the lives of their children. HIPPY attempts to engage families, increasing their health literacy by giving them the ability to obtain, process and understand health information and by guiding them in choosing a healthy lifestyle, knowing how to seek medical care and taking advantage of preventive measures.

HIPPY uses a curriculum with a Health Literacy component, which includes standard topics such as finding a doctor, healthy, eating, visiting the doctor, nutrition and fitness; however, staff enhances the promotion of better health by offering additional support.  Staff provides parents with one-on-one time to discuss issues, referral for services and provide simple tips on staying fit and healthy eating.

In helping improve people’s access to health information and their capacity to use it effectively, staff has learned many valuable lessons; it takes simplicity and consistency to help families achieve success.  The following “Healthy Snacking Tips” article from our “Family Times” newsletter is one such tool.

It often seems that the biggest challenge to healthy eating comes not from large meals, but instead from the seemingly small choices we make at snack time.  It is important to remember that while snacks are small, each little choice quickly adds up in your daily nutrition.

Here are some simple tips to help you make better snacking choices. Bon Appetit!

  1. Choose snacks that will satisfy your hunger such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds and low-fat dairy products.
  2. Make snacking on vegetables more interesting by dipping them in non-fat salad dressings or hummus
  3. Be creative. Spend a little extra time in the kitchen at the beginning of the week and experiment with different recipes for healthy snacks. There are numerous books and websites specifically dedicated to healthy snack recipes.
  4. Don’t be misled by labels. Foods labeled as low or fat free can still have a high amount of calories. In addition, foods labeled as cholesterol free can still have a significant amount of fat, saturated fat and sugar. Always read the nutrition labels on the back of the product.

Healthy snack options include:

• A sliced apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter

• Baby carrots with some hummus

• A small bowl of high fiber cereal with fat free milk

• Homemade trail mix – a mixture of 2 tablespoons each of almonds, cashews, dried cranberries and raisins

HIPPY is dedicated to promoting better health through a mix of home visitation, parenting group meetings, special projects and service referrals and by consistently reinforcing skills, which can lead to increased health literacy.

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