After the school day is over, you and your friends may often head for a nearby fast-food restaurant. As you talk with friends, you probably do not pay much attention to what you are eating.
In the past, people gathered at a friendly barn raising or a chatter-quilting bee. Today, most people socialize over food;it’s a natural for society. Most business and pleasure is done during meals. This does not mean that you have to eat desserts and other unhealthy foods whenever the opportunity arises. For example, during the holiday season, your relatives may tempt you with home-baked desserts. Your family may also have a tradition of rewarding your achievements with food.
Even though fast-food restaurants are great places to relax after a hard day at school, your food choices in most social places are not usually healthy. It is not exactly easy to say no to a hot dog when everyone else is eating one. By being aware of how socializing influences your eating you are already better off.
These are examples of how your family can influence your eating habits. Since the dawn of time, we have expressed love, sympathy, appreciation, pride and many other emotions and events with food. Some of us grow up thinking food is the answer or reward to everything until we develop a weight problem. It is pretty hard to unlearn such habits, so let’s try not to learn them.
Next to friends and family, keep an eye on advertisements, which often encourage the consumer to eat foods that are not necessarily nutritious. Advertising often makes false promises, too, leading you to believe that a product can benefit you more than it actually will.
Although commercials often fade into the background in the American home, their messages often get through to the consumer. We do not think about it much, but we are definitely more aware of products we have seen advertised.
Remember though, that people who produce advertisements are just doing their job: They are getting you to buy a product. They try to make the candy or restaurant or drink look as good as possible. There are many things they do not tell you, such as the fat content of fast food or the amount of sugar in some breakfast cereals.
More and more nowadays, you will see healthier foods advertised. People are concerned about how foods are marketed-particularly how ad campaigns are meant to influence children and teens. You, however, are the one in control. You have to decide what advertised food is or is not worth eating. The best way to decide is to stay informed. You should read and try to understand food labels. Refer to a Food Guide Pyramid or speak with a Health professional if you have questions about which foods are best for you. Keep aware and you will be fine and healthy. 1
The purpose of this unit is to educate middle school students to the different food groups and the importance of choosing wisely from each group.
To introduce students to the food pyramid.
To teach students to purchase, prepare and consume healthy foods.
To help students to make good food choices.
To teach students to read and understand product labels.
To raise students awareness of acceptable caloric intake based on their age, height and level of physical activity.
To acquaint students with the US Government weight guidelines.
To teach student to use “moderation” when consuming food that are not healthy.
To answer the question “to be or not to be a vegetarian, is it a healthier food choice?
Many different strategies will be used to teach this unit. To introduce the unit teacher lecture will be used. Students will be lead in a discussion of what they know about such things as daily recommended food amounts, serving sizes and food categories. These probing questions will lead to group discussion. Throughout the unit students will be given assignments that require them to work in cooperate learning groups. When testing for pesticides on raw food, students would work in groups completing a hands-on activity. Students will be taken to the Experimental Station where they will conduct test for pesticides on raw fruits and vegetables.
The unit will include a web site called the “Pyramid Game”. Students can use this sight to test their knowledge if the Food Guide Pyramid. Students will also be directed to another web site where they can plan menus. As many hands-on and interactive strategies as possible will be incorporated in the unit such as, having students guess and then check to determine serving sizes and having students use a fast-food menu to select a healthy meal.
This unit will be taught to inner city students. The majority of the students have a fair amount of discretionary income and easy access to fast-food restaurants and junk food stores. Many students come from homes where supervision may be absent: in many instances parents are working in the afternoon and evening. In the absence of a prepared meal, students invariably dine on fattening foods or foods that are nutritionally deficient.
One focus of the unit will be the nutritional meal. What constitutes a nutritional meal? Students will be provided a food pyramid. Students will be required to complete an eating log for one week including the weekend. As the unit progresses students will review their eating log for the purpose of suggesting changes based on their new knowledge.
Information from an informal survey of about 50% of my present students indicated that they were meat eaters. More ate beef than any other meat: burgers accounted for most of the beef consumed. This unit will discuss the nutritional value of all kinds of meat, most especially beef and chicken. These are the meats most commonly consumed by my student population. My students eat large amounts of fried and processed foods. They eat very few vegetables, fruits and fresh foods. The Hispanic population consumes more grains, peas and beans than the Anglo population. Students will be challenged to include healthier foods in their daily menu. Snacks are also a big problem for the students. Most of them consume too much salt, sugar and fat. Ways to change their unhealthy habits will be discussed.
One of our first lessons will focus on beef. The discussion will focus on hamburgers. Since I know the majority of my students eat hamburgers, I will try to find out how often they consume burgers and where they are prepared. For demonstration purposed, I will present a meat thermometer. Students will be lead in a discussion of how beef should be handled and how it should be prepared. Cross contamination will be discussed. The unhealthy aspects of eating too much ground meat will be discussed. As a homework assignment, students will be required to go on the Internet to find information from the FDA concerning ground meat. Students will also be given an assignment to come up with substitutes (meat and non-meat) for hamburgers. Students will refer to the food pyramid to get the correct amount required for a serving.
My survey revealed chicken and pork were about equal favorites after hamburgers. Beef rounded out fourth place. The survey revealed that too many students ate too few vegetables, especially fresh ones. Fresh fruit did not fare much better. A large majority of the student’s diets consisted of meat (the largest part of the meal), fats and carbohydrates. Some students ate fresh fruits; most only drank fruit juice at school.
This unit is NOT designed to serve as a diet for overweight students. Students who are obese or suffering from illnesses brought on by obesity or aggravated by obesity should be referred to the appropriate health care provider.
The recommendations suggested in this unit are for healthy children who want to eat healthier. Children may decide they want to eat healthier for various reasons such as, being fit to participate in sports, to avoid having to diet in the future, to look more attractive or to ward off illnesses aggravated by excess weight such as high blood pressure and asthma. Some weight loss may occur naturally as a result of food intake being changed from high calorie foods such as sweets, fried food and foods high in fat to healthier food lower in calories.
This unit will help young people to better select meals that are more nutritious and to be aware of foods that should be eaten in moderation such as sugar, salt and fats. They will learn to determine portion size and the numbers of daily-suggested servings from each food group.
The unit will touch on pesticides, especially the ones found on fresh foods and vegetables that can be consumed raw. Since students will be encouraged to consider eating raw fruits and vegetables as a substitute for some less healthy snacks, cleanliness will become a factor. A trip to the Experimental Test Laboratory will be planned for the purpose of testing for pesticides on selected fruits and vegetables. To find the most effective way to clean food, water, dishwashing detergent and water, and Fit will be used to wash the food after the first test is done. The food will be tested again after it has been washed. Students will be encouraged to use the method that removed more pesticides. Students will record the results of the test that will be used back in class to complete an assignment.