Eating Right Background Information for Teachers and Parents

Grade Levels: K-3

This page contains information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about healthy foods, healthy diets, and eating right.  The information is designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. movie Eating Right. It explains the type of content covered in the movie, provides ideas for how teachers and parents can develop related understandings, and suggests how other BrainPOP Jr. resources can be used to scaffold and extend student learning.

Help children make healthy choices about what they eat. Encourage them to pay attention to their food and teach them how to improve their diets. This movie will explore ways to make healthy choices for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. It will also discuss junk food and how to substitute it with healthier options.

What did everyone have for breakfast or lunch today? Discuss together. Remind children that food is fuel for the body, and also provides the building blocks that let them grow. When you eat, the digestive system breaks food down and takes in nutrients. The body uses the nutrients to grow healthy and strong. Milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products are high in calcium, which is a nutrient the body needs to build strong bones. Dark green vegetables, carrots, and nuts contain vitamins that help keep skin, hair, and eyes healthy. Whole grain bread contains fiber, which promotes a healthy digestive tract. Explain that some foods are not as nutritious as others. Then have children brainstorm a few examples.

Review with children that junk food is food that has few nutrients and is often high in fat, sugar, or salt. Foods high in sugar can affect mood, and contribute to obesity and long term health problems. For example, after eating a sugary snack, you might feel hyper and have a lot of energy. Then, you might “crash” and feel tired and grumpy. As a result, sugar intake should be moderated. Brainstorm sugary snacks and foods that are popular with children, such as doughnuts and candy bars. Also explain how some juices, soda, sports drinks, and chocolate and strawberry milk have a lot of added sugar.

The food plate shows what to eat to stay healthy. According to the food plate, fats and oils should make up the smallest portion of a diet. Eating too many foods that are in high in fat and salt can lead to health problems later, including obesity. Brainstorm high-fat foods together, including pizza, hamburgers, fried chicken, French fries, and other favorites among children. These foods should be eaten only occasionally, as a special treat.

Encourage children to make healthy choices whenever they eat. Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day. Explain that after you wake up, the body needs fuel to start the day. Some children eat doughnuts and pastries in the morning, which are loaded in sugar. Many cereals have a lot of added sugar as well. These are not healthy ways to start the day. Instead children could eat whole grain toast or bagels, or fruit and yogurt, which are far more nutritious. Cereals high in fiber, like oatmeal or dry oat cereals without added sugar, are also good choices. Brainstorm other healthy options people can eat for breakfast.

In the school lunch line, children are faced with a lot of food choices and not all of them are healthy. Encourage children to choose the option that has fresh fruit or vegetables. Pizza, hamburgers, and hot dogs are often favorites, but they are high in fat and salt. Sandwiches on whole grain bread or salads with plenty of vegetables are better options. Encourage them to eat a piece of fresh fruit with each meal. Fruit contains plenty of vitamins and fiber. When it comes to beverages, many children are attracted to sweet, sugary juices or sodas. Instead, encourage them to drink plain low-fat milk or water. Strawberry or chocolate milk may seem healthy, but they are loaded with sugar!

Empower children to make healthy choices when they eat. Remind them that the body needs healthy food to stay healthy. Encourage them to think about what they eat and how they can lead healthier lifestyles.