In this activity, students will visit a Web site that analyzes the nutrient values of a wide range of foods, both generic and brand-name. At the site, students will be prompted to enter data regarding portion size and quantity of foods typically eaten. The site will return a nutritional profile, which students can then use to assess the relative level of health of their current eating patterns.
- To learn about the nutrient values associated with specific foods by visiting a Web site that analyzes the nutritional content of both generic and brand-name foods.
- To interpret on-line data as a means to determining their current level of nutrition.
- To understand what changes, if any, need to be made in their eating habits.
Introduce the activity by inviting volunteers to share what they had for breakfast this morning. Note that each of the foods named provides nutrients from each of the six major categories but in varying amounts. Some foods are rich in carbohydrates, others high in fat, still others high in protein. Make sure students understand that all foods can be analyzed in terms of Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). Emphasize that this term refers to the amounts of nutrients that will prevent deficiencies and excesses in most healthy people.
Help students make optimal use of the Web site by suggesting that they read the instructions thoroughly. If students have difficulty locating a particular food, encourage them to explore other names by which that food might be known. Instruct them to retain for future reference information gathered at the site. Note: Be mindful that the inputting of personal meal data may prove time-consuming, especially if your class is large. If so, you may wish to set aside an entire class period for completion of individual students' food diaries, reserving analysis and discussion of their worksheets for a subsequent period.
Discuss with students what surprises, if any, they encountered in their nutritional analyses of foods and what changes in their eating habits they need to make. Invite students to make changes as called for, then to return to the Web site at a later date and reinput their nutritional data. Instruct them to write a short entry in their Health Journals comparing their "before" and "after" nutritional analyses.