For those that may not know, March is Nutrition Month. In honour of this special time of year I am putting the spotlight on my Australian colleague Jennifer Howard, who came up with the brilliant idea of wearing produce stickers from the fruit you have eaten in a given day to spark conversation about the issue of fruit consumption in the general population.
I was so fascinated by the idea that I had her explain all about it!
Just so you guys know, Jennifer is an industry dietitian from Australia who also acts as a Nutritionist for FitTradie and does public health nutrition work in the field of eating disorders on the side.
Long story short, she is a busy woman.
That did not stop her from coming up with the epic #fruitstickerselfie campaign.
Let’s see what she has to say about her initiative:
What is a fruit sticker and why do you wear it?
A Fruit Sticker is those little sticker that you find on your piece of fruit (and some vegetables) that help identify particular types of fruit, fruit varieties and regions that the fruit may have been grown. This helps the customer select the fruit that they like and help the cash register attendant quickly identify one type of fruit from another at the checkout!
I have been wearing my fruit stickers for as long as I can remember! I use to wear my apple sticker on my school tunic collar with pride where other students would have their gold stars given to them by the teacher (This was an early indication of my career direction!) Then not long after graduation from my Nutrition & Dietetics Degree, I discovered that wearing my fruit stickers was getting a response from strangers in the street or at checkouts and it was a great ice breaker to start talking about how many serves of fruit I have eaten in the day, introduce myself as a Dietitian/Nutritionist and start having a friendly chat about daily fruit and vegetable targets for children and adults. Here in Australia we have the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (AGHE) and this provides information to healthy Australians about what types of food to aim to include in a healthy well balanced diet. There are different targets for all food groups and it is subject to age regarding ‘what is a serve’ and how many serves we should aim for. For a healthy adult we should aim for 2 serves of fruit, and 5 serves of vegetables per day. Check your local government websites for healthy eating evidence-based guidelines, but if you want to check out the amazing Australian info that we have here down under, here is the link on serves sized for a healthy adult: https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/how-much-do-we-need-each-day/serve-sizes
How do people respond to seeing you wearing fruit stickers?
Every day I would be stopped at least once by someone politely telling me that I have an apple sticker stuck to my tee thinking they were doing a service because what loon would voluntarily wear a fruit sticker or three on their top as an adult???? Well this loon does!
When I then smile and open the conversation up that I wear my fruit stickers to remind me how many serves of fruit I have had for the day, and remind me to aim to include more veg in my day most people are really welcoming of the idea. Actually, when I come to think of it, I have never had a negative response! The common reactions I have is “Wow, what a great idea! I am going to tell my kids, they will love this” or “I could definitely do with a bit of a reminder to eat for fresh fruit and veggies”.
The natural graduation of the conversation is usually “what is a serve of fruit/veggies” which as a Dietitian I am really excited to be giving over this information to inquisitive minds. For those of you wondering this right now, as a general rule* for fruit, a serve is 150g and vegetables is 75g.
What does 150g of fruit and 75g of veggies that look like I hear you ask? As a guide, two small stone fruits is a single serve, or a medium apple or a cup of cut up melon. For vegetables, one serve is ½ a cup of frozen veg, or 1 cup of salad leaf or 1 medium tomato. The AGHE website has a great breakdown of this information in visual format if you need more information!
I do sometimes get some sideways looks when some people aren’t confident enough to talk to me about it but that’s when I use my friendly initiative and open up the conversation myself. People are surprisingly welcome to the idea once the conversation is out there and I have had a great response to it! I have whole offices proudly wearing their fruit stickers and seeing the change in office lunches and snack options is something I am immensely proud of!
Where can I get some fruit stickers?
Most fruits have stickers now-days. Apples, Citrus, stone fruit, kiwifruit, some bananas, mangos, pineapples (these stickers a are a little big… but hey, don’t let me stop you making a bold statement!) I have even begun to see some tomatoes have stickers! If I had my way, id love to get more fruits and veggies with stickers on them so we can proudly demonstrate our healthy eating habits with more variety!
Tell us a little bit more about your #fruitstickerself initiative:
Because of the amazing response I have had on a local level, I have come up with the idea of taking it to social media with the use of the hashtag #fruitstickerselfies. It has been a little slow to take off online, but I have had lots and lots of people privately message me their photos! I do love that people are implementing this in their everyday life but I love to get more and more people involved and the best way is with the reach of social media! I just want people to know that not one single person has given me a negative response to wearing a sticker OR eating fresh fruit and vegetables. I think Dietitians and Nutritionists are the best advocates for this cause as they are already armed with the knowledge and skill set to engage and educate so I’d love to get the strong Dietetic community on social media to take this idea and begin networking with it. The more we can get the message out there about healthy eating and what healthy eating looks like, the more we will see a positive change in our own health, the health of everyone around us. Also, on a personal note, my favourite part about it is that we get to make friends of strangers when people start conversations.
Want to get in on the #fruitstickerselfie campaign? There is no better time than now, since it is nutrition month after all! Take a picture of yourself proudly adorning your fruit stickers for the day and tag Jennifer and Myself on Instagram!!
All the best guys and thanks Jennifer for this awesome content!
Andy De Santis RD MPH