Start a Conversation: According to Canada’s food guide, what should be included in most meals?
- Try to fill ½ of your plate with vegetables and fruit, ¼ with protein foods and ¼ with whole grain foods.
- For snacks, try a vegetable or fruit on its own, or pair it with a protein food or whole grain food.
Discuss the key nutrients provided by foods and beverages and why they are important.
- Carbohydrates: Provide the body and brain with energy.
- Proteins: Help the body to build and repair tissue like muscle, tissue, skin, hair and nails.
- Fats: Provide energy and help the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins.
- Vitamins & Minerals: Work together with carbohydrates, fats and proteins to help the body grow, repair itself and do the jobs it is supposed to do.
- Calcium, Phosphorus, Vitamin D, Zinc: Help build strong bones and teeth.
- Iron, B-vitamins: Help the body use the energy from food.
- Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin K and Vitamin E: Help keep cells throughout the body healthy.
- Water: Helps to move nutrients and oxygen within the body, remove wastes and toxins, regulate body temperature and digest food. Water also cushions all of the tissues and organs in the body and helps muscles contract.
*Eating a variety of foods each day will ensure your body receives the nutrients it needs.
Discuss nutrition environments within the community.
Identify all of the places within the community that students may visit with family and friends. Discuss whether or not food is available at these places, and list any food available. Discuss any ideas for improvement.
Activity Idea: List all of the places and opportunities where food is available within the school environment (e.g., classroom celebrations, fundraisers, catered lunches, BBQ’s). Identify what food is available at each setting. Identify whether or not these settings support healthy eating habits (e.g., free of distractions, eating together, water available). Identify any ideas for improvement.
Unintended Consequences of Personal Food Diaries
You might be tempted to have students complete a food diary to meet curriculum expectations. If this is an activity you choose to complete, please keep these tips in mind:
- Food diaries should only be used for personal reflection on individual eating behaviours.
- If you are marking this assignment, mark for completion only. The content of a student’s food diary, as well as their goals, should be free of judgement.
- It is the overall pattern of eating that matters when it comes to health, not one individual day.
- Goals should be specific, realistic and behaviour-based (not weight-related). Some examples could include turning off all screens at supper time, bringing a reusable water bottle to school instead of packing a sugary drink, or eating one more vegetable or fruit each day, etc.
- It is unnecessary to share goals with the class.
Note: One in six Canadian children under the age of 18 live in a food insecure household, meaning they have inadequate or insecure access to food due to financial constraints. As a result, it is not always affordable or realistic for these families to make changes to their eating behaviours.
Alternative Activity Idea
Provide all students with the same sample food diary (made up, but realistic). Ask students to create goals for this sample food diary. Share and discuss the different goals created.