Cooking and Shopping Made Easier and Healthier for Blind Americans
In its first year, Let’s Move! taught us to pay attention to what we eat. We’ve learned that choosing a bowl of whole-grain cereal with non-fat milk over cheesy biscuits and bacon is a great way to kick off a healthy, energized day. We’ve realized that many times we are offered portions that are bigger than necessary, and we’ve tested delicious, perfectly-proportioned recipes to make at home. And, with the release of 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans last month, we were reminded that consuming less sodium, fats, added sugars and refined grains is essential to a healthy lifestyle. But, for millions of blind or visually impaired Americans, reading the nutrition information and cooking directions printed on the boxes, cans, jars, bottles and bags at the grocery store has been all but impossible---at least it was before the launch of directionsforme last month. Directionsforme is an accessible and user friendly website that contains nutritional and product information for over 350,000 foods and appliances. Created by Horizons for the Blind, directionsforme is helping millions of Americans like me to plan healthy menus, cook at home and to pay attention to the foods we consume. A study published in August 2010 by a group of Columbia University professors showed that people who regularly read the nutrition facts labels on the food that they buy have significantly healthier diets and consume less calories, fat, sugar and sodium than those who don’t read the labels. Thanks to directionsforme, blind grocery shoppers can now plan their trips by carefully selecting foods and brands whose nutrition information they have read and compared. A busy mom who wants to buy healthy snacks can use the website to find out which brand of peach fruit cups has no added sugar and an aspiring Italian chef can find out the appropriate serving size for his favorite brand of pasta. Directionsforme is also helping American families eat healthy meals together at home, another key component of the Let’s Move! initiative. Planning menus and cooking at home is a fun and healthy way to bring the family together. For sighted cooks, using a microwave to steam broccoli or pureeing vegetables in a blender is as easy as a glance at a user’s manual and the push of a button. Directionsforme now makes those time-saving appliances available to visually impaired chefs with accessible package information for thousands of products. Let’s Move! has always been committed to including people with disabilities in its healthy lifestyle outreach, whether by cheering on the American athletes at the 2010 Paralympic Games in Vancouver or recognizing the students with disabilities who earned Presidential Active Lifestyle Awards with a special ceremony at the White House. Now, with the accessible nutrition information and appliance instructions on the directionsforme website, blind Americans can more easily pay attention to the food they eat and fully participate in the Let’s Move! call for healthier meals and healthier families.