I plan to start this curriculum by providing general knowledge about healthy choices and how the decisions we make about food affect our bodies and mind. The more physically and mentally healthy we are the better we perform academically. Helping students to understand that a successful student is a healthy one will be my major concentration. A student cannot learn if they are pre-occupied by hunger, fatigue or some emotional barrier. Therefore, this curriculum needs to be focused around helping the students and school population as a whole gain a true understanding of this concept if they wish to witness true student success. Not only will we be educating the student’s on proper nutrition we will be helping to break down the barriers that may be blocking their potential success rates.
Nutritional Decision Making
The first step in addressing this issue will be to start evaluating what choices our students make regarding nutrition. We will also assess how our school and our society influence the overall wellness of our children. Looking into both of these influences will allow for a truer understanding of where the student is in regards to risk and health.
Home Economics and Values and Choices are two classes offered at Fair Haven that would lend themselves easily to the topic of the decision making process we go through in regards to food choice. Home Economics is a course, which provides knowledge to students around food preparation and nutritional balance. Values and Choice is a social development course, which encompasses topics such as body image, knowing oneself and making proper decisions.
The purpose of educating students around these topics is to have the students discover for themselves what is in the foods they consume daily and evaluate its nutrients and healthiness. Having the students discover if what they eat is beneficial to their overall well being will help them in understanding what is best for their bodies. The approach will be to have the students keep daily journals to track their diet and physical activity during a weeks time which they will evaluate bi-weekly. This will allow the students to gain an individual perspective on their eating and assess it in a personal and private manner.
We will question who influences what they eat and why? Taking a good look at decision-making and influences both negative and positive in regard to food consumption will help the students to consider the choices they make more critically. Students will begin to look at their bodies as individual and unique; they will analyze how what may be good for them may not be for someone else. Having the students understand individual difference will be viewed as a personal and positive perspective on knowing oneself and how differences make us special.
Students will evaluate who in their lives provides their meals, and do they have a choice or control in what is around them to eat. We will further assess how these decisions and influences affect them and their diet. We will look into when they eat and the patterns of their food intake. Evaluating the times, the foods and the people around them will help them determine what it is about their eating that is effective to them and also what may not be. What types of foods do they consume around certain people, at certain times and specific places will be looked into. Food preferences and choices depend on many factors; hunger, mood, taste and other sensory factors all play a role in what we choose to eat. The basis of having students understand this concept will be to relay that the more we learn about the choices we make and how we come to those decisions the more likely we are to make better ones for ourselves.
Food And Its Relationship To The Body
Once the students have assessed their eating patterns we will begin to learn more about nutrition and food as an energy source. Metabolism and body types will be explored and how we break down the food we consume. To help students understand how the body gets its energy the importance of eating breakfast to start the body’s metabolism and looking at food, as energy throughout the day will be discussed. We will look at what happens to the body when we do not eat and how that affects our learning and motivation. Analyzing both the physical and emotional results of food intake will be explored. Students will be able to complete self-assessments by logging their physical feelings based on individual eating habits and food consumption. How does the body feel when one has not eaten or after a large meal has been consumed, will be some of the questions students will be answering. They will determine which foods make them feel more satisfied and which foods affect them negatively. We will discuss the importance of getting nutrients from food in order to get maximum production from our bodies. Exploring how specific food groups affect the body system overall will help students as they analyze the personal affects it has on them.
We will explore why we eat certain types of foods. Sensory factors play a role in food consumption, sound, feel, taste and appearance, all have influence (Tamborlane, 1998). Knowing this will help students gain insight into why certain foods may appeal to them.
Looking into eating for convenience and boredom, rather than nutritional value and hunger will also be explored. Evaluating the popularity of fast food and what that says about our society in regards to what is faster vs. what is wiser. Using Schlosser’s, “ Fast Food Nation” as a guide, we will look into the artificial flavoring and coloring industry and how chemicals make up what we taste and see. We will begin to dissect food labels looking for words like “natural” or “artificial flavor”. According to Schlosser, “the similarity between these two broad categories of flavor are far more significant than their differences. Both are man-made additives that give most processed food its taste” (Schlosser, 2000). This is a significant issue since “90 percent of the money that Americans spend on food is used to buy processed food”(Schlosser, 2000). Though fast food chains our embedded in are culture and taste buds, few people can name the companies that manufacture the fast food’s taste (Schlosser, 2000). Handouts in regards to the nutritional value of some popular fast food restaurants will also be distributed to students and the break down of what that means in regards to nutrition. Having the students analyze these topics will allow them to become more informed and start making choices accordingly.
We will look into what foods are sold around the school how that plays a role in the choices we make and what message that sends on how our school environment values proper nutrition. Answering these questions will begin to open the students mind to issues of control, choice and limits in regards to nutrition in school and in their daily lives.
We will also touch on the issue of exercise and how that affects our body physically and emotionally. We will explore food intake and calorie burning in a technical sense and then explore how that plays true in our daily lives. A handout will be distributed on daily activities and how many calories each activity burns. “Most children eat the right amount of food to meet their energy needs for growth and normal activity. Children who eat more food than their bodies need for growth and activity store the extra energy in their body as fat. Conversely, if children are not eating enough food, then all the calories are used to maintain the body’s usual functions and there is not enough energy left over for normal growth” (Tamborlane, 1998). With this tool student’s can begin to assess their calorie intake vs. output individually and properly assess their need and understanding of what works for them.
Along with this, student’s should also be looking into how certain foods are affecting their mood, energy level and comfort level. As time progresses students will begin to see food as an energy source and something that affects their emotions, physical appearance and overall health. We will discuss how calorie intake and exercise affect weight. This will be done impersonally as to the sensitivity of the subject. Teaching about what one consumes through food is either used as energy or stored will help students realize whether they are making the right choices for their bodies optimal potential. Emphasizing the need for food for proper function of the body will be reinforced throughout these discussions.
We will also discuss the enjoyment of food and the positives that surround eating and food consumption. Eating is a very social and rewarding part of our lives and should not be viewed as a negative. Helping students to realize though knowledge of what one is consuming is important in deciding what to eat, food in general is not only a need, but also an enjoyment.
Taking Control Over Food Choice
After this is accomplished, students will then have to evaluate what choices they have control over during their day and which they do not. The cafeteria breakfast and lunch food is provided daily without options, since this is a component of their day students will have to critically analyze and evaluate how this affects them. We will start this process by having the students break down the nutritional value of their meals. Giving the students the balanced diet pyramid will help them in this process. We will use the New Haven Board of Education monthly menu as a resource for evaluation. Providing them with this knowledge and resources will help them determine how appropriate the meals provided for them daily are and begin to assess what is best for them and our school as a whole. After this process is complete students will take it upon themselves to decide whether they view their meals as nutritionally worthy. Throughout this critique we will explore what alternative options students have and their practicality.