Getting it printed, hiring a commercial printer, what you need to know

As registered nutrition and dietetic practitioners, we are always trying to come up with a better way to inform and educate our audience. Even though the internet and social media are a must if you’re in business, most of us understand the best way to reach people is still face-to-face. So, it’s not at all unusual for an RD, RDN or DTR to have a stack of handouts. If you’re starting your own practice, at some point you’ll need print materials that are designed to promote your business. At the very least you’ll need a business card. Where will you have materials printed? If this is your first time working directly with a commercial printer, there are things you should know that can help the process run smoother, while staying within your price range. It’s best to always keep in mind your project from beginning to end throughout the process. Don’t get ahead of yourself or the results can become disappointing if your project isn’t carefully planned. What you’ll need to consider are getting initial quotes, setting up digital files for printer and quality control before and after the final print.

Before getting quotes for your project, write down a description of what you want. For starters, printers will want to know what you want to be printed, what you want it printed on, in what color, how many, and when you need it done. Plan to give them as much information as you can about your project so they can provide accurate quotes. When you are ready, contact at least three printing facilities. This way you’ll get a range of pricing, and it will give you a chance to learn about each establishment and their capabilities. Always visit a printer’s website for additional information.

Depending on your needs, you can contact printers directly in your area or work with a printer that offers online services. If you decide to work with a local printer, a face-to-face meeting with a print rep is a must. Print reps are essentially your “print concierge,” and are extremely helpful especially if you’re new to ordering anything in print. They are always more than happy to share advice and go over the different selections of paper and/or other materials that you can have your item printed on. Printers can print on almost anything and they are the experts at narrowing down choices to meet your goals.

If you decide that an online printer can meet your needs, they usually will have a step-by-step guide with detailed information on their website. But you’ll need to take the time to read and understand it. Most online printers have a customer service department available to answer your questions. But it has its limitations in comparison to a face-to-face meeting. If you’ve never had a project printed before, the “how to guides” or DIY design can quickly become overwhelming. Before you start any project with an online printer, take the time to access your knowledge with design and print to be sure this is right for you.

Before sending or uploading any files to a printer, it’s always best to consult your print rep first regarding file format before designing your project. Which software package is appropriate for your design? Even though Word can be used to design a flyer, the design templates can lull you into a false sense of believing that your project will be a “piece of cake.” Don’t fall for it. Your little inkjet printer may zip out one or two flyers at a moment’s notice, but if you’re going to have hundreds of these produced on a commercial press, it’s time to get serious.

Use software as it is intended, so you’ll avoid additional pre-press labor costs for rebuilding your files in a format they can use. Microsoft Word is a great word processor, and is great for office documents, but has many limitations for graphic design. PowerPoint is for overhead slide presentations but doesn’t have the capability to produce files suited for a printing press. If your project is a single page or small booklet, Microsoft Publisher is more appropriate. At the very least, it has templates for projects that can be printed, and you’ll be able to save your file as a high-resolution PDF “ready to print.” Before you start anything, consult your print rep.

There are many online printers that allow access to templates for download. For single page projects, this can be ideal if you have the software to use them. Some common ones are business cards, flyers, or note cards. There are also online printers that will allow you to design your project right on their website. Designing a t-shirt this way is very popular. You’ll still need to access your skills before taking this on. Online print websites are notorious for enticing visitors to attempt DIY projects with a false sense of “saving time and money.”

In the print world, Software such as Adobe InDesign and Illustrator are the industry standard for high-end production. If you’re not experienced with using this kind of software, consider hiring a graphic designer who can make your design look spectacular. This is especially important if you plan on spending a chunk of your budget printing a large quantity that will last you a while. They are also experts when it comes to branding a look to promote your company.

Photography is a wonderful way to convey a message that can be successful on so many levels if planned beforehand. But, if you aren’t skilled in using composition and proper image exposure, it will show. An experienced photographer will know how to capture an image at the best angle to tell your story and provide high-resolution images suitable for printing. Are you going to include portraits? Hire a portrait photographer to make sure people will look their best. They’ll appreciate you for it.

Another option is to purchase royalty free images from an online source. You can find a lot of bargains online and images come in the numerous sizes and resolutions. Please don’t get into the habit of copying and pasting images directly from a Google search. Internet images are usually not appropriate for commercial printing, but most importantly you could be unknowingly infringing on the owner’s copyright. Do a search on “public domain” for more information about this, or read my blog post https://greenapplenutritiondietitian.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/do-you-have-the-right-to-use-that-photo/. Show appreciation for an artist’s work. You might even be able to contact the artist to ask for permission to use their photography or artwork. If you’re not-for-profit, they might be willing to support a worthy cause.

Cameras on smart phones have come along way with innovative technologies, but they aren’t yet savvy enough to make up for someone lacking an eye for composition. If you must use your phone for pictures, make sure to change your phone’s settings to the largest photo possible. Bigger is better in this case. It’s better to scale down a photo in your layout rather than scaling it up. Most people fail to understand how digital files translate to a print medium. If you’re not familiar with the terms “low resolution” and “high resolution” digital photos, do an internet search. High resolution is at least 300 dpi (dots per inch) for traditional printing. If your digital image size is smaller, you run the risk of it looking blurry in the final print. Talk to your print rep before using any images from your smart phone.

Before handing any files over to the printer, it’s important to read all the text and look over images and/or artwork on your project. Print it out, don’t just look at it on the screen. This can’t be stressed enough. It’s human nature to see a mistake after everything is done. An overlooked typo can be a costly mistake, especially when there are 1000 pieces printed with the incorrect phone number. Consider putting your project aside for one day, then come back to it with fresh eyes. Then have someone else look at it too.

So, now have your beautiful marketing piece ready to go to print. What happens to your file once it gets to the printer’s pre-press department? Your file will go through a preflight process. The pre-press department checks for a variety of things including making sure images are at least 300 dpi and that all the fonts load properly in your document.

Once the file is ready, pre-press will create a proof of your project for your approval and sign off before going on press. This proof will be nearly identical to your final print. Some printers are even able to produce a proof on the exact medium you’ll be using. This is the stage where you also want to scrutinize every detail and make any changes — and yes, again look for typos. Take a pen and mark it up. If you ask for changes, insist on getting another proof.

Once pre-press had determined your file to be in good working order, and you’ve signed off on your proof, they will then RIP your file. RIP stands for “raster image processing.” This process turns your files into a language of bits and pixels that the printing press understands to reproduce your project on your chosen medium.

When your project is done printing and delivered, be sure to open the boxes to check your product. You don’t want to be looking at your product for the first time when you’re already sitting at your booth during a conference. What if you ordered t-shirts to hand out at a nutrition conference and found out you have the Village Bowling shirts by mistake?

Quality control of your print project from beginning to end will help you ensure accuracy and quality throughout the entire process. Successful marketing pieces also involve building relationships with everyone involved. Stay in contact and communicate in a timely manner. Remember the level of professionalism will be reflected in anything you print to promote your practice. Make sure it’s the best impression that it can be within a budget that you can afford.

For more information click on the links below:

Preparing files for print
https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Tips-for-preparing-your-publication-for-commercial-printing-32ae0c9e-08f1-4849-8774-4bd818e49f2e

https://www.summitprintingpro.com/resources/print-ready-art-files.html

Learn about Public Domain images and artwork
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Public_domain_image_resources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_Commons

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Making the Case for Social Media: Three Reasons Why You Should be Social Online

How much does the internet influence your patient’s decisions on health and diet? The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states, 72% of adults surf the internet to look for nutrition information, a diagnosis for a health issue, various treatments, and to join support groups with people who have similar health issues.

Social media is becoming the primary source of health information. People are spending less time in health practitioner’s offices. ESPECIALLY OUR YOUNGER PEOPLE. They have the uncanny ability to sift through information much more quickly than previous generations. But do they know if the information they are discovering is credible? Who is authoring the advice that they are reading? What do you as a practitioner want them to know? As seasoned nutrition experts, consider taking more responsibility to become more informed about internet activities, and to plan strategies to ensure that your expertise gets reader’s attention first, more consistently online.

Your patients are online, you should be too

You’ve probably heard the news lately about the influx of “fake news” on social media. We know we can’t always believe what we read, but the written word still holds an unconscious credibility to some people who may have more of a tendency to believe what they read rather than what they hear. This is paramount for a seasoned professional. Fad diets, anecdotal advice, and quick fixes can be highly persuasive especially from experienced writers, and those who know how to get topics to go viral on social media platforms.

Sharing a link with nutrition advice takes seconds, without much thought. This same link can reach many readers much faster than you can imagine. Now think about this on a magnitude of thousands of readers, versus one patient in your office getting your one-on-one consultation. How many questions do your patients ask you every day about stuff they read online?

How about when an idea is repeated over-and-over, EVERYWHERE? Over time, doesn’t your mind start to unconsciously accept it as normal? Some good examples of repetitive ideas are the gluten craze and GMOs. They are now household names. We can no longer ignore this.

The internet desperately needs an infiltration of nutrition experts willing to learn online strategies to share credible advice, to educate readers, and steer them away from the anecdotal junk that keeps getting shared repeatedly. Dietitians and DTRs who are becoming more tech savvy online are making a difference. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook promote engagement with an audience in real time by allowing them to host a chat or post a live video feed. We must be active on these platforms consistently to share the latest nutrition information and advice.

Find opportunities, and stay in contact with colleagues on social media

By creating a LinkedIn profile, a registered nutrition professional seeking employment can showcase their expertise in much greater detail, than on a paper resume. Without question, the potential to reach employers with an online resume wins hands-down compared to traditional means.

Companies also post job offerings on LinkedIn to lead interested candidates to apply on their websites. An online resume can be shared and available for review instantly by an employer. Job seekers can also see profiles of employees who already work for the company that’s offering the job they are applying for. This two-way communication offers a greater potential for a more immediate connection between employers and job seekers.

This platform is also a great way to keep colleagues updated on accomplishments in a more professional environment in comparison to Facebook. You can also help a colleague or a dietetic intern gain employment by writing a testimonial about their skill and expertise. If you are working to help those in need in the community as a non-profit, Facebook and LinkedIn can help you create awareness and to reach out to volunteers without the need for any cash outlay.

If you are working to help those in need in the community as a non-profit, Facebook and LinkedIn can help you create awareness and to reach out to volunteers without the need for any cash outlay.

FREE advertising and exposure

This is worth a repeat: FREE ADVERTISING AND EXPOSURE. The internet is a great way to let the public know you’re out there looking for work, starting a new business or looking to get support for a cause. Creating an account on social media is free, and has the potential of reaching thousands of online viewers without paying a headhunter or an advertising or marketing agency. Small businesses are using Facebook pages in addition to, or instead of websites to market themselves. For individuals without the skills, time or money to create a website, a free profile on Facebook gets the job done by inviting friends, encouraging feedback from viewers and to engage with them in real time. People sitting behind a computer are more likely to get involved in constructive criticism online rather than in face-to-face encounters. What you learn from reader’s comments can be invaluable.

For non-profit groups with little financial support, social media has been the difference between success and failure in finding the support and volunteers they need. The ability to “spread the word” using social media has helped in ways that were never before imaginable. This took on a whole new meaning for those helping the homeless, volunteering at food pantries, and providing other ways to service people in need.

More specifically for nutrition professionals, social media increases the ability to leverage audience networks to promote the sharing of information; to tailor messages for a specific or a wide audience; to engage the public in conversation, collaboration, and participation. The ability to reach people online with the potential to change behavior on a larger scale is worth your time and effort to investigate how you can get involved.

If this blog hasn’t yet convinced you to get more active online, and you are a member of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, understand that they take social media very seriously as a place where dietetics and nutrition practitioners can and do make a difference. So much so, that they have updated their ethics and standards of practice guidelines to include activities on social media. A practice paper, “Social Media and the Dietetics Practitioner: Opportunities, Challenges and Best Practices,” in the November 2016 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, discusses in detail the opportunities and benefits of social media, ethics, and standards of professionalism and much more.

With all the changes in the world taking place faster than ever before, social media engagement is a way to keep up and remain relevant in the ever-growing field of nutrition and dietetics, which needs your participation and expertise more than ever. Online where “anyone” can give nutrition advice, it behooves registered nutrition professionals to take social media more seriously.

A Journey of Mindless Food Choices Determines Future Health

delicious-food-served-signHave you ever thought about what shapes your choice of meals every day? What happens during your day that reinforces those choices? What about where you live or work? As life goes on with school, college, careers, marriage, kids, and so on, we may not pay enough attention to what we feed ourselves when we get hungry. Many of us live a life on-the-go and feel we are unable to take the time to learn what is in our food, or how many calories we are consuming. Here’s a personal look at a hypothetical individual who has reached a crossroad in his life when mindless eating begins to affect overall health — an all too common scenario.

Jon was getting his annual physical when his doctor informed him that he has “metabolic syndrome.” Now in his 40s, he knows that he’s gained a few extra pounds over the years, but now he’s being told that based on his height and weight, he’s considered obese. Jon also hears the doctor mention something about hyperlipidemia and pre-diabetes while he is reviewing his blood test results. His new results put him on the “high risk” list for heart disease and developing diabetes. By the end of his appointment, he’s given a prescription for a statin, and a warning to change his diet, exercise more and lose weight to reduce his risk for serious health issues down the road.

All this new information is swirling around Jon’s head like a world wind as he is leaving the doctor’s office. Clasped in his hand are brochures that were given to him with tips on how to change his diet to reduce his triglycerides and his blood glucose, along with a list of local health clubs. As he gets into his car to drive home, he tries to make sense of it all. He never truly paid much attention to how his diet can affect his health, yet knows he could use a little more exercise. Sitting at the office all day doesn’t help, and he certainly doesn’t want to end up with a pile of medical bills. Ultimately whatever he decides to do can and will have an impact on his future health.

How does someone like Jon end up in this situation? It certainly didn’t happen overnight. Both he and his wife don’t have much time during the week to devote to mealtime. Most of their time is focused on work and raising their two children. They both rely mostly on convenience meals that are high in energy and low in nutrition to get through their day. Breakfast is from the drive-through, lunch is delivery, and dinner is take out most days of the week. Looking at Jon’s life up to this point and his current living environment can provide some answers.

Most of Jon’s meals growing up were ready-made in a box or a bag. He’d usually wash it down with an extra-large soda. As a child, it was common to see him riding in the back seat with his sister while mom ordered meals from the drive thru. His family didn’t have much, so cheap eats were commonplace. Grocery shopping usually consisted of bags of chips, two-liter bottles of soda, frozen pizzas and microwave meals. His mother always cut coupons for highly processed foods, and rarely bought whole foods and vegetables. She didn’t have the time to cook, but it was important that her children had food to eat since she usually worked long hours. The microwave meals were easy for her children to heat up and feed themselves, since she couldn’t be there when they came home from school.

During the school year, mornings in his household were always at a hectic pace to get out the door, so he’d usually grab a bottle of soda and a package of cupcakes from the school vending machines for breakfast. During lunch, he’d eat a big slice of pizza, with soda and a bag of chips. The school did serve vegetables, and offered fresh fruit, but he always passed them up in the food line and went for a package of cookies instead.

During college, Jon got hooked on caffeine energy drinks because he felt they helped him to stay more alert in class. The long nights of studying deprived him of sleep. As a young adult, he’d already had a well-established diet of fast and convenience foods, which where mainly high in fat, salt and sugar, and low in vitamins and minerals. The dorms he lived in didn’t have a kitchen, just a microwave. Students were required to purchase meal cards for the cafeteria. This encouraged most of them including Jon to get take out.

When Jon landed his first job, he was happy that the mall nearby had a food court in it so he could walk over every day for lunch. There were also restaurants nearby that would deliver when he had tough deadlines to meet, so he could work through his lunch hour. His work consisted of sitting in his office most of the day on the phone or working at the computer. Over the years, he started to gain weight, since he wasn’t nearly as active during his high school and college days. After work he usually came home tired and spent most evenings watching TV.

For someone like Jon, change won’t be easy. The environment he lives in has a restaurant on every corner. Food is everywhere. To lose weight, Jon will need to learn how to balance his energy intake with his physical activity. He’ll need to consider choosing foods with a higher nutrient content that are overall lower in calories. Since he became less active as an adult, his high calorie food choices have contributed to his weight gain.

It helps not to go it alone. There’s so much advice everywhere, but a good place to start is with a registered dietetic professional, who can help Jon get on the right path. To become more mindful of his eating habits, it might be necessary to keep a food diary for a while to get an idea of eating patterns. It’s also a great way to estimate how many calories he’s consuming daily and what types of foods he normally eats.  Most importantly, learning to read food labels is crucial in understanding how much energy is in each serving, where the calories are coming from (fat, sugar or protein), and to know what constitutes a true serving size. It’ll take a long-term commitment on his part to see results.

Mindfulness and education are our biggest allies when it comes to our health. Modern society doesn’t make it easy to be healthy. Food companies know how to hook us. They usually have a large budget to hire marketing experts who know how to persuade us during our most vulnerable times, when we are hungry, tired or both. Food is integrated into every aspect of our lives everywhere we go—sporting events, the zoo, airports and gas stations. To beat the game, we need to be in touch with our own habits and our daily routines. Don’t let these companies know more about you or your family than you do. They expect that most people won’t bother with food labels. Take control of your own health and fight the urge to chose mindlessly.

Start right now! Food label basics:

http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm274593.htm
 

Crunchy Chicken Strips

crunchy-chicken

Looking for an alternative to deep fried chicken? How about chicken your kids will eat, without all the preservatives that come in the frozen varieties? Get all the crispiness of fried without all the fat and oil. Vary the flavor by using your favorite dipping sauces. Cut up into smaller chunks and toss into a green salad.

Crunchy Chicken Strips Recipe

¾ cup Panko bread crumbs
¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
½ tsp granulated garlic
½ tsp Adobo seasoning
½ tsp thyme
¼ tsp salt and pepper
¼ cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour
2 eggs, beaten with a dash or water or milk,  or ½ cup egg beaters
1 lb chicken breasts sliced into strips or package of chicken tenders

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cover a cooking sheet with aluminum foil and spray generously with cooking spray. In a shallow bowl, combine Panko crumbs, cheese, garlic, Adobo seasoning, thyme, salt and pepper. Mix well. Place flour and eggs into separate shallow bowls.

Add all of the chicken into the flour, mix by hand to coat, shake off excess. One-by-one, dip each piece of chicken into the eggs and then the bread crumbs. Be sure to coat evenly. Arrange chicken in a single layer, on the prepared cooking sheet. Spray the tops of the chicken with the cooking spray to promote browning. Bake for 15 minutes.

Take chicken out of the oven, turn each piece and spray foil and chicken with additional cooking spray.

Bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until the chicken looks golden brown. Make sure internal temperature of chicken reaches 165 degrees. Don’t over bake. Serve immediately.

Makes approximately 3 – 4 servings.

 

Do You Have the Right to Use that Photo?

Spend any time on the internet and it won’t take long to be overstimulated with various imagery all vying for your attention. Images pop up everywhere, persuading you to stop, look or take some sort of action in ways that are hard to ignore. Even though many pictures are taken professionally, the majority are taken by the general public. Instagram claims to receive over 95 million photo and video uploads per day. Facebook brags that users are uploading 350 million images per day.

But who owns all these images? Professional photographers have the right to restrict use of their images, and often put a water mark across each one making difficult for someone to use without permission. There can be a false sense of security into thinking that no one notices or cares if anyone downloads copyrighted images on Google or Bing for personal use. In case you think no one is watching, there is image tracking software that can and is used by businesses to track their images on the internet. Large companies like Getty Images have been known to send out emails threatening a lawsuit if their images are found on websites or blogs without permission.

But what about the average internet user? Most of the time it’s a matter of ethics – doing the right thing. No one wants their ideas stolen. A legit business should use legit images and artwork, preferably their own original creation or a paid license. Who wants a reputation as someone who steals other people’s work?

Coming from the creative side of the tracks, it’s frustrating to see some users not take a photographer’s copyright seriously. Some people may not truly understand how perfectly composed photography comes to be. A professional photograph that looks so simple, yet clever, can be easily dismissed as something that wasn’t a big deal to create. Not to say that there aren’t happy accidents, by being in the right place at the right time with a camera, but based on my past experiences, the more simplistic a photo looks, the more difficult it is to create. Not to mention the post production that images may go through in Photoshop. Touching up photography and making it look great can be a full-time job in itself.

If you use images on your blog, website or social media, get into the habit of looking for ones that are “public domain.” A customized Google search can help, but there’s no guarantee. It’s best to go to the website where the image originates and contact the owner for permission. Sometimes all they ask is for is a credit to the photographer somewhere on or around the image. Or if you feel adventurous enough or have a creative edge, there are plenty of tutorials that show users how to take eye-catching photos using natural light without a ton of equipment, even with a cell phone. This way you can avoid all that copyright nonsense and be a true original.

Sweet Roasted Acorn Squash

September is here which means fall is in the air. This time of the year I get a taste for winter squash. There’s so many varieties to chose from. They are a source of potassium, fiber, vitamins A, B6 and C. If you’ve never prepared squash before here’s a quick way to prepare a tasty side dish of acorn squash.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Use a metal baking sheet and cover with foil. Spray foil with cooking spray. Cut one acorn squash in half. I like to cut the top with the stem off first, and place the flat side down for a more steadier surface. Some squash can be a little tough to cut into. Then with the bottom size up, I usually use a chef’s knife to cut down the center.

acorn squash w.seeds.jpg

Inside, the acorn squash has the same guts and seeds just like a pumpkin, which is another type of squash. While using a large spoon, just the same way you would clean out a pumpkin, clean out the squash leaving the insides smooth. If you’d like, clean and keep the seeds and roast them later for a crunchy snack.

acorn squash no seeds.jpg

Once the squash is nice and clean, place the squash flesh-side-down and roast for 30 minutes until soft. Turn the squash flesh-side-up. Then inside the middle of each place 1-2 Tablespoon(s) of brown sugar and 1 Tablespoon of butter (optional). I also sprinkled a little garlic, adobe seasoning and pepper over the top (optional). Then place the squash in the oven for about 15- 30 minutes until the sugar and butter melts into a liquid and the flesh shows some browning.

acorn squash done.jpg

Let it cool off for a while then use the large spoon to scrape the flesh out away from the skin into a bowl. Mash and sprinkle brown sugar on top if desired.

roasted acorn sqash2.jpg

Try different variations. Winter squash is so versatile and can be eaten sweetened or not. Instead of brown sugar, add 1/4 – 1/2 tsp granulated garlic, adobe seasoning, and chili powder. Salt and pepper to taste.


SWEET ROASTED ACORN SQUASH
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 acorn squash, cut in half and cleaned
1 Tablespoon butter
1 -2 Tablespoons brown sugar

Unsweetened

1/4 – 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/4 – 1/2 tsp adobe seasoning
1/4 – 1/2 tsp  chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Place acorn squash halves flesh-side-down on cooking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes. Add sugar, butter and other desired seasonings inside each half. Put back into the oven flesh-side-up for another 15 to 30 minutes until butter and sugar melt and the flesh is browned. Scoop out squash and mash. Sprinkle with more brown sugar if desired.
Makes about 2 – 3 servings.


 

Big Soda Personalizing Its Way into Your Heart

How does it make you feel when someone calls you by your first name? How about when you find something with your name emblazoned on it? Stores and amusement parks sell tons of this tchotchke stuff: key chains, mugs, pens, signs and tiny license plates, to name a few, on a spinning rack. There are plenty of times I’ve found myself stopping in a front of one of these to whirl it around to see if “Cindy” shows up anywhere.

Coke has figured this one out as a remedy for their recent falling soda sales. The new Share a Coke and a Smile campaign includes putting individual names on bottles of Coke. Mainly popular names among millennials, and of course, it’s created quite a stir in the search for names. If you don’t see your name, you can go to their website and personalize a bottle. For five-bucks, Coke will send it to you. This campaign has worked so well that people are not only buying soda with their names, they are buying bottles with their friends and family’s names. If they don’t find the name they are looking for, they are telling Coke about it.

Coke is no longer about quenching your thirst anymore. A bottle of Coke is now a special gift you can give to someone you care about. People will tend to buy more if they see names of people they know alongside their own — sales of Coke will increase exponentially. Sure it’s fun and it pulls on the emotional heart string of sharing good times and togetherness. But all this cleverness only plays down the daunting fact that increased intake of sugary drinks is a huge factor in childhood and adult obesity. One thing that can’t be denied, is the idea of finding your name on something is geared toward kids and young adults, which is where these companies always want to start with their advertising, early and as young as possible — so much for the promise not to market to children. Not to mention they also have strategies for targeting low income and certain ethnic groups.

Food or drink used as a reward is usually a bad idea, especially when it comes to children. To show that they are special by giving them a personalized bottle of sugary water is even worse. But parents, who are aware of how big food and beverage companies will go straight for the heart to get to them give over their hard-earned money, are already ahead of the game. For a split second, when making the decision to buy that bottle, when your kid suddenly sees their name, they want you to forget about your child’s nutritional health. Hold your ground, and buy them the tiny license plate instead.