This Friday, Feb. 7, is National Wear Red Day, a campaign that raises awareness and funds for the prevention of heart disease in women, their No. 1 killer. The American Heart Association launched Go Red For Women in 2003 and since then, 34 percent fewer women die from heart disease every year — a life-saving, staggering number of more than 100,000 women a year. Awareness has gone way up and women are taking charge of their health and their bodies.
As dietitians we can help raise awareness and participate in the celebration of National Wear Red Day. Many corporations celebrate this day in-house with fundraising and awareness events. As a dietitian, this opens the door for you to get involved with your community and pitch some ideas. For inspiration, here are a few ideas that you can spin into some really terrific awareness-raising activities for your workplace or community.
Any place that has a cafeteria can feature heart-healthy RED foods, table tents discussing heart-healthy diet tips, and a dietitian on hand to continue the discussion. The American Heart Association's website, GoRedForWomen.org, is a great place to find promotional materials and planning guides. Try loading up a giant glass container with apples or stack them and fill-in the shape of a heart, and give out to employees, school children or customers.
Give a cooking class or food demo, which can be as simple as making a heart-healthy RED smoothie (using the obvious strawberries, raspberries or a combination of beets and other ingredients such as flax seeds, low-fat yogurt and various other veggies and fruits). Use the smoothie as an opportunity for participants to sample a great heart-healthy breakfast idea and, at the same time, show the comparison in calories, fat and sodium content to that of an egg, cheese and bacon sandwich.
Check out the handout entitled Get To Know Your Family Tree on GoRedForWomen.org. It is a worksheet to help you understand your family’s health history and risk factors for heart disease. Two of the risk factors on the check list are unhealthy eating habits and obesity/being overweight, along with the usual culprits: diabetes, hypertension, smoking and hypercholesterolemia. This is a great opportunity to have people check their own BMIs. All you need is a scale and a BMI chart. Add some of these colorful handouts, a dietitian and a red table cloth, and you have set the stage for a lively informative heart health awareness table.