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Nova Southeastern University
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Reshape Your Environment; “Make the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice”

Marilyn Gordon, Ed.D. RDN CSSD LDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Nova Southeastern University

I recently attended the Florida Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Annual Symposium and one of the most interesting speakers was the Surgeon General of Florida, John H. Armstrong, M.D. He updated the group of nutrition and dietetic professionals on the health of Floridians. It was inspiring to hear how he and his team at the Florida Department of Health are working to make Florida the healthiest state in the nation. His team identified “Weight” as being the biggest health challenge with only 36% of adult Floridians being of a healthy weight. He emphasized the need to “Reshape the Environment.”

5 Environments to “Reshape”
• School
• Healthcare and Work
• Food and Beverage
• The “Message”
• Physical Activity Environment

Some examples given in the presentation were: take frequent breaks to walk and stretch; create walking trails at work and school and provide maps highlighting distance or points of interest; schedule “walking” meetings and use the stairs often; and increase offerings of fresh fruit from Florida and vegetables instead of pizza, large sandwiches, and cake for parties.

The “Message” should be empowering and simple. Two messages that their team chose were: “Eat Your Colors” and “Move More, Sit Less”. They have also found that working in groups, teams, or in a competition can be motivating. Their program rewards not only those that move towards a healthier weight but those initially at a “healthy weight” and also at a healthy weight a year later, recognizing that even if you are at a healthy weight, you live in a high risk environment.

The second quote: “Make the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice” reminds us how important the quality of the food at home, in the cafeteria, or in the vending machine is. If we are surrounded by water to drink and fresh fruit or vegetables for a snack, making the healthy choice becomes real easy.