This lesson helps young people get acquainted with MyPlate and how it can be used as a visual tool for a lifetime of healthy eating. They will explore the food groups that are represented on MyPlate and analyze a meal of their own by drawing it on a paper plate. Finally, youth will reflect on the food they eat and how they can make more balanced meal choices in the future.
Ask the youth: Why do we need to learn about the right foods to eat, and how much food to eat?
Allow the young people time to give their answers, but make sure they understand:
Tell the youth that one way to learn about healthful foods, and healthful amounts of food, is with MyPlate.
Ask the young people: What do you know about MyPlate?
MyPlate is a tool that helps show us what kinds of foods we should eat every day and how much of those foods we should eat. Its message is simple: eating a variety of colorful foods from the five food groups at each meal helps our bodies stay healthy.
Note: Instructors should be aware of young people with special nutrition needs including food allergies and intolerances. Instructors should clarify to those young people that it is okay that they follow special food guidelines set by their parents and/or doctors.
Explore each section of section of MyPlate on the interactive whiteboard lesson (see What You Need) or the ChooseMyPlate.Gov website. Click on each of the sections and read some examples aloud. Discuss the information about the foods included in the different food groups.
Click on the Grains section, to see the differences between whole and refined grains. Emphasize that we want at least half of our grains to come from whole, unprocessed sources.
Click on the Vegetables section to see the five subgroups of vegetables. Emphasize that the deeper, darker colored vegetables will be higher in nutritional value.
Click on the Fruits section to see whether frozen or canned fruits are okay, and also to see whether or not 100% fruit juice counts as a fruit.
Click on the Dairy section to see what kind of dairy foods are best to choose.
Click on the Protein Foods section to see what kinds of choices are best and how to get variety.
Fats and Oils (butter, mayonnaise, oils found in fried foods) are not considered a food group, but are part of one’s daily food intake.
If using the interactive whiteboard lesson, practice by sorting the foods into the food groups. Can you name other foods to put in the different sections of MyPlate?
Just for fun, let’s think about a meal we’ve eaten recently. It’s time to bring out the paper plates! Pass out paper plates to young people.
Ask young people to draw, list, or cut and paste the foods they had for one meal on their paper plate. Remind them to include drinks. For example, if they had a grilled cheese sandwich and milk, those items could be listed, drawn, or cut and glued onto the plate.
When the group is finished, review the paper plate activity and invite young people to share with the class what is on their plate:
How does your plate compare with MyPlate?
What food item could you add to include more food groups?
What food/drink could you have less of or substitute with another food/drink to make it more like MyPlate?
Are there any food items on your plate that are not part of the five food groups? (fats, oils, added sugars)
Remind the youth that eating foods not in the five food groups is OK in small amounts as long as they are eating most of their foods for the day from the five food groups.