Nutrition is one of the most difficult topics for me to teach, but also my favorite. It is hard to sort through all of the diet messages that our students get every day. Instead of teaching them the exact way to eat I hope to teach them to be thoughtful consumers of information.
Back when my Mom was learning about nutrition there were only four food groups and fat was evil. Now there’s a big swing back to fat being a good thing and the trans fats created in the 80’s are evil. I know that by the time my students are parents the conventional wisdom will shift again.
One activity I enjoy doing with students is our fad diet evaluation. Students go to the Web MD Diets A-Z list and choose a diet to evaluate. They learn about the diet with the guidance of these questions.
After researching the diet students trace a plate onto paper and draw what a meal might look like on the diet. They also write a paragraph comparing the diet to the MyPlate guidelines that we use in our classroom.
The discussion around this activity is always interesting. For example the “Lemonade Diet” encourages users to drink salt water and laxative tea which brings up a good discussion on why exactly we shouldn’t drink salt water when we’re stranded in the ocean and warning signs of bulimia.
Overall throughout our nutrition unit I remind students that it is not my job go tell them how to eat, only equip the students with knowledge to make those decisions for themselves. Hopefully this activity helps them realize how crazy weight loss schemes can be and guides them in the direction of a healthy lifestyle.