Category: Blog Posts

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Fieldtrip to the Foundation Center!


This week, the LaCarte Wellness team ventured downtown to the Atlanta Foundation Center. The Foundation Center maintains an extensive database of foundations, corporate donors, and other grantmakers and is a leading resource for nonprofit organizations searching for information and training they need to be successful.

With an ongoing obesity epidemic in the country, it is important that wellness programs are affordable and accessible to everyone regardless of socioeconomic status. There are many grantmakers offering funding to nonprofit organizations to help make these programs a reality in communities all across the nation.

What resources does the Foundation Center have to help your organization?

  • Free non-profit training by local professionals: Check out their calendar of training events to see when you can attend a session in the future.
  • An extensive library of books and magazines on a variety of topics from writing grant proposals, overcoming debt, marketing, social media, and more!
  • Their interactive website enables you to look up statistics on U.S. foundations and their grants by region or by 990 forms, and also enables you to search for funding from over 95,000 grantmakers and 1.7 million grants.  The perfect grant sounds hard to find?  There are many ways to narrow your search to find grants that apply to your specific region or category of interest.
  • Located on their website, frequently asked questions can guide you to information on the Foundation Center itself, how to procure funding for individuals and nonprofit organizations, nonprofit management, as well as many other useful topics!

There are five Foundation Center libraries in the United States, located in New York City, Washington D.C., Cleveland, San Francisco, and Atlanta. Unlimited access to their online resources is free inside the center, but even if you don’t live in one of these cities, the Foundation Center website offers a great deal of information and resources.  Check out their proposal writing short course and useful selection of free online training courses and webinars.

At LaCarte Wellness, we help for-profit and non-profit organizations find grants and write proposals for all types of wellness programs. These programs vary widely and may range from a coporation’s employee diabetes education class series, to an elementary school’s farm-to-school garden program. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help.

What resources do you use to find grant funding for your company or community wellness initiatives?

Goodbye MyPyramid, Hello MyPlate!


Last week the USDA changed the nation’s food icon from the sometimes confusing, often misunderstood myPyramid to the new MyPlate.  Now that the dust has settled and the excitement has worn off, it’s time to examine how useful this will be for consumers, healthcare professionals, and wellness programs.

Several nutrition experts have written about the new tool on their blogs, and most have found the new MyPlate food icon as a simple, and easy to understand tool. Many nutrition professionals agree that the basic message of dedicating half of your plate to fruits and vegetables is realistic. However, some are up in arms over the small circle to the right of the plate that encourages people to consume dairy products, because it could be counted as a protein, as well as the fact that it can be offensive to vegans. Even though not everyone agrees with the inclusion of dairy in the icon, it is still a good representation of what a balanced plate should look like. While this tool will not solve obesity, it is a step in the right direction. For many people the pyramid was too abstract and many people weren’t sure what to eat or how much. The plate model makes it much simpler for consumers to visualize and understand.

The USDA has identified the following selected messages that they would like for professionals to help consumers work on. These goals include:

  • Balancing Calories:
    • Enjoy your food, but eat less
    • Avoid oversized portions – consider your plate size!
  • Foods to Increase:
    • Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables
    • Make at least half of the grains you consume throughout the day whole grains
    • Switch to fat free (skim) or low fat (1%) milk
  • Foods to Decrease:
    • Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals and choose the items with lower numbers – keep in mind that frozen meals typically have higher sodium levels than food prepared fresh at home
    • Drink water instead of sugary beverages

In addition to of the launch of the MyPlate food icon and selected messages, the website, www.choosemyplate.gov, has an array of resources to help professionals and consumers. Available resources include: sample menus, tips to help you achieve a balanced plate, a food tracker, and personalized daily food plans. Also available are audience specific materials for pregnant and breastfeeding women, preschoolers, children, and for those who are trying to lose weight.

What does your plate look like?

Why "Biggest Loser" Wellness Programs Don't Work


Well, not for long, at least. Next week is the Season 11 finale of the NBC hit show “The Biggest Loser“.

There is no argument that this show can be inspiring for anyone looking to lose weight. Biggest Loser-style contests are also a favorite among companies when they are developing a wellness program. Many companies have implemented contests where an employee or a team of employees wins prizes or incentives based on the highest percentage of weight lost. But after the contest is over, HR managers are baffled at high amount of weight regain, even among the winning teams. Why don’t Biggest Loser style contests produce sustainable weight loss in employees?

  • Participants don’t learn to replace unhealthy habits with healthy habits. As opposed to learning how to cope with emotional eating, manage stress, incorporate appropriate physical activity and learn balanced eating habits, participants will often go to drastic measures to lose the weight. Some people will choose to starve themselves, overexercise, use diet pills or laxatives, or adopt other short-term harmful behaviors. Once the contest is over, participants will not maintain these behaviors, and the weight (with related health problems) will ultimately return.
  • Unrealistic expectations are set for weight loss goals. According to the National Institutes of Health a safe and effective rate of weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week. In order to win the contests the participants will often go to the lengths described above to lose the highest amount of weight per week. What’s the danger in losing more weight? Rapid weight loss includes loss of lose lean tissues which means metabolic rates will slow down. According to the NIH, weight regain the weight is often rapid. Participants often find they will have a harder time losing weight again in the future.
  • Participants are externally motivated. A few days off from work, or a discount a chance to win a weekend way is great incentive- but once the excitement has worn off what will keep the participant on track? Participants need to learn why they want to lose weight and keep it off, and realize that no one can motivate them but themselves.
  • Other factors contributing to overweight and obesity are ignored. Participants who have had a lifetime of battling with their weight are often battling other issues. Comorbidities such as depression, diabetes, hyper-or hypothyroidism, PCOS and others need to be taken into account when designing a weight loss program. Though all effective weight loss programs include changes in diet and exercise, these other factors must be addressed in order for the participants to enjoy sustained weight loss for years to come.

What elements of the Biggest Loser are appropriate for an effective weight management program?

  • Using teamwork to encourage participation and compliance.
  • Consulting a professional when needed for nutrition counseling, mental health counseling, or personal training.
  • Keeping workouts varied and challenging.
  • Telling family members and friends of weight loss goals.

What have you learned from your company’s Biggest Loser-style programs? What elements worked, and what would you change for your next employee wellness program?