• Youth Energy Squad

What’s your serving size?


Context: We constantly think about food, and are sometimes charmed by large portions and large flavors. Serving size is a standardized amount of food. It may be used to quantify recommended amounts, as is the case with the MyPlate food groups, or represent quantities that people typically consume on a Nutrition Facts label. Portion size is the amount of food you choose to eat — which may be more or less than a serving. With obesity rates rising and access to fast quick food on the rise, more and more people are eating their way out of house and home. This activity will provide a better understanding of food nutrition and how it impacts health.



Goals: Age Group:4-12


  • Learn to read Nutrition Facts labels to understand the properties of that food.

  • Determine the recommended serving of a food item.

  • Understand the importance of following recommendations for serving sizes and choosing food based on their nutritional qualities.


Supplies: Time: 30 mins

  • Copies of Nutrition Facts labels for various foods

  • Several different packaged food items (like popcorn, cereal or granola) or, to avoid using real food, you can stuff boxes and bags of discarded/eaten food with other materials (like packing foam “peanuts” or shredded paper) to represent the food items

  • Different sized bowls

  • Measuring cups

  • Pens/pencils


Instructions:

First, watch the videos below for context, then have a discussion about the importance of paying attention to Nutrition Facts labels and serving sizes as a part of a healthy diet, asking some or all of the following questions:

Videos:

How the food you eat affects your brain

A guerilla gardener in South Central LA


Questions

  • What are some of your favorite snack foods?

  • How much do you typically eat in one sitting?

  • Is your favorite food healthy? What do you think makes it healthy? Is there any aspect of it that could make it unhealthy? [Example: Popcorn is a popular snack that can be healthy in moderation since it’s a whole grain food. However, it can turn into an unhealthy snack if loaded up with salt and butter.]


Instructions:

  • Pick a packaged food item from your home. It should be something you eat a lot or are curious about.

  • Sit at a table and place the food item, several different sized bowls or plates, a measuring cup (if you have one), a Food Labels and a Serving Sizes handout for each person, and copies of Nutrition Facts labels for various foods (or at least recreate a copy).

  • Read aloud the directions at the top of the Food Labels and Serving Sizes handout and fill out the front page of the handout based on the amount of food you would each normally eat, versus the recommended serving size.

  • Using the copies of Nutrition Facts labels of various foods, fill in the Nutrition Facts label on the back of the handout for a more in-depth examination of the information that can be found here and how that information can be used to assess whether a food item is a healthy choice. As you complete the handout, reference the Nutrition Label Guide handout to facilitate a discussion on what each part of the label means and about the elements of a Nutrition Facts label to which you should pay particular attention.

Directions:

  1. Put the amount of food you would eat into the bowl or cup. Pick the size bowl/ cup that you would usually use for this food at home.( I.e the amount of cereal you would eat, in the bowl you eat cereal in )

  2. Take the measuring cup and measure how much you put into your bowl as you pour the food back in the box. Write the answer to this paper below. You can do this individually or as a group if you all agree on the same amount of food.

  3. Read the Nutrition Facts Label on the box to determine how much is in one (1) recommended serving. Write the answer to this paper below. Food item: ____________________________________



4. Google the daily recommended serving for sugar, fats,...... and find out how much of your daily recommended intake did that food fulfill. ( is it half, more, or less)

5. As a bonus, you can look for common ingredients in your food and try to find out the meaning if you don't already know.

*if in a group, who came closest to pouring in the recommended serving size that’s on the Nutrition Facts Label?

*Are you or members of your group getting more, less, or about the same amount of recommended servings of this food?


Nutrition Facts

Use your Nutrition Facts Label to fill in the chart and answer the questions. See if your food is a healthy choice by using the serving size from the back of the box, the amount you eat, and the daily recommended intake amount.





Nutrition Label Guide


[Source: US Food and Drug Administration]


Reflection Questions


  • Think about all of the things you eat, do they have any common ingredients?


  • How often do you read food labels before you eat?


  • How often do you finish all of your food or snacks?


  • What do you describe as healthy food or snack?


  • Do you feel like you have a better understanding of nutrition?


  • Were you shocked by your nutritional facts?

  • Do you feel like you have easy access to healthy foods?

  • Do you think the rest of your community has easy access to healthy foods?

  • How has your access to food changed during the pandemic, or ever since school closed?

  • Do you see any empty space in your community that can be used as green spaces?

  • Are there any similarities to the community in the second video and yours?




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