Using Traditions To Teach Teens About MyPlate

Editor's Note: In the November/December issue of Choices, our story "What's For Dinner?" offers teens some delicious and healthy recipes that they can easily make for themselves. Here, Lauren DeViney, who is a Project Manager for the New Balance Foundation Billion Mile Race and former high school health teacher in Waltham, MA, shares her lesson plan that will gets students interested in cooking nutritious meals.

Part 1
Cultural traditions play an important role in our daily lives, especially when it comes to food. Get kids thinking about how their meals reflect their families or community by having them answer the following questions:

1. What foods does your family eat on holidays or at celebrations?
2. What foods does your family eat on a regular basis?
3. How are your answers to #1 and #2 different? Why might that be?

Then, have the students read "What's For Dinner?" in the November/December issue of Choices. After, they should partner up and share their answers. Together, they should spend about 10 minutes brainstorming answers to the following questions.

4. Why is it important to learn to cook for yourself?
5. What kind of food would you want to serve to the people you love? Why?
6. Why should you follow the MyPlate guidelines at mealtime?
7. Is it easy or challenging to eat more fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains? Why?

If time allows, you can call on volunteers to share the results of the brainstorm questions.

Part 2
Once you've got the class thinking about the importance of eating healthy, hand out the Choices MyPlate Meal Planner worksheet. Students will choose one of the meal styles from our story (bowl, pitza, or stir-fry) and customize it to reflect their own traditions or favorites. The worksheet will help them make sure they cover all the necessary food groups. Bonus points to anyone who actually goes home and makes the meal!

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