Currently in Health and Career Education, we are talking about making healthy food choices based on the Canada Food Guide. For most students, learning the food groups is pretty straightforward, so is remembering the recommended number of servings for each group.
For 9-13 year olds the number of servings are:
Fruits and Vegetables - 6 servings
Grain Products - 6 servings
Milk and Alternatives - 3 servings
Meat and Alternatives - 1-2 servings
Where things start to get tricky, for kids and adults alike, is trying to figure out just what exactly makes up a serving. For different foods, one serving equals different amounts of food. For example, one serving of milk = 1 cup. One serving of peas = 1/2 cup.
To help students get a better understanding of what one serving actually looked like, I brought in several different foods and set them up as stations for pairs to rotate through. For each station, one person needed to measure out the amount of that food that they would typically eat. Next, they checked the station card to find out the amount of food that equaled one serving. Finally, using measuring spoons, they measured the food they had served themselves to find out how many servings they would usually eat of that food.
The results were sometimes surprising! For rice and pasta, one serving equals 1/2 cup which isn't very much. For most students they were eating a lot more than that; some students realized they were eating as many as nine servings of grains when they had pasta for dinner!
Hopefully this hands-on practice will make it easier for students to estimate the number of servings they are eating when the begin their food diaries next week.