Foods commonly eaten by kids are typically served in larger portions than what their bodies really need. This lesson uses MyPlate to help young people recognize how much of a meal should come from each food group. The youth will compare healthy portion sizes to common items.
Foods commonly eaten by kids are typically served in larger portions than what their bodies really need. Often it’s the foods high in less desirable nutrients (fat, sugar and sodium) that are served as the largest portion. Fruits and vegetables, rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber are usually given the least emphasis. The impact of this distortion of portions over time could impact health by contributing to obesity and increased risk for chronic (long-lasting) diseases.
Show the youth the baggie with 1 cup of cereal in it. Then show them the baggie with 2 cups of cereal in it.
Ask the young people which portion looks like the amount they would pour in their bowl. Is it the single serving, double or possibly adding the two baggies together, which would represent three servings.
Display the three different sized bowls and ask the class what size bowl do they use when they eat cereal? It is easier to eat more than we need when we are using large portion bowls.
Pour cereal from box into each bowl and then measure how many servings actually fit into each bowl.
Ask the young people, what are some other foods that they would likely eat more than one serving at a time? Examples: macaroni and cheese, ice cream, chicken nuggets, chips/snack crackers.
Introduce the youth to MyPlate. Show MyPlate graphic or use our Interactive Whiteboard activity (see What You Need) to talk about MyPlate. Explain to the youth that it is important for our bodies to get the right balance of foods so we can stay strong and healthy as we grow. If we get too much of one kind of food and not enough of another, our bodies could end up getting sick or not growing the right way.
Show them how certain foods have a place on MyPlate.
Ask the youth why they think fruits and vegetables take up 1/2 of the plate.
- These foods give us lots of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, fiber) for our bodies so we want to make sure we are eating enough of them.
Now, let’s practice and see if we can match the different food group items to their recommended portion size. Ask the youth: What are some of the ways to get just the right portion of a food item the next time we eat a meal or snack?
- Use the ChooseMyPlate.gov Food Gallery to see portion sizes visualized. (See links below).
- Use common items such as a DVD/CD or a tennis ball to help us with our portion sizes.
- Include fruits and vegetables more often because they are the foods we want to eat the most. If time permits, use the ChooseMyPlate.gov Food Gallery to come up with your own comparison of portion size to common objects.
Welcome additional ideas the youth have and encourage them to remember to often include fruits and vegetables with their meals and snacks.