AlertThe application for the 2017 United Airlines NYC Half is now open. Enter the drawing or claim your guaranteed entry today!

Stop N Go

Students learn the effects of healthy and less healthy foods in this energetic game

Tags: nutrition activities, middle school, breakfast

Description: Students move or freeze depending on whether a healthy or unhealthy breakfast food is named.
Objective: Students will distinguish between "energy" ("go"/healthy) and "empty" ("slow"/less healthy) breakfast foods.
  1. Ask the students to stand against a wall facing you.
  2. Tell them foods such as bananas, strawberries, spinach, milk, tomatoes, whole grain (brown) toast, low-fat yogurt, and eggs are "energy" foods because they contain a lot of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, which provide energy for the body and mind to focus on schoolwork and perform well in sports and activities.
  3. Ask them if they have ever had a doughnut for breakfast. Explain that because doughnuts are high in fat and added sugar they should not be eaten too often.
  4. Tell them foods that taste sugary (candy) and foods that feel greasy (bacon) are "empty" foods because they provide a burst of energy, but the energy is quickly used up, which causes people to feel tired and hungry. "Empty" foods often lead to overeating and weight gain and long-term health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure.
  5. Explain that "empty" foods are also called "junk foods." Emphasize students should choose "energy" breakfast foods more often.
  6. Then, explain that you will list some breakfast foods (select examples of "energy" and "empty" foods listed below) and ask the students to call out "energy" or "empty" for each one.
  7. Once they have correctly identified all the foods, play a game called "Energy/Empty" with the students.
  8. Call out the breakfast foods again in a random order. Start the game with an "energy" food.
  9. If a food is an "energy" breakfast food the students should jog (or skip or hop) toward you at the other end of the room. If a food is an "empty" food, they should freeze in place.
  10. If a student moves after an "empty" food is called or freezes when an "energy" food is called, they must go back to the start.

Although all foods can fit into a healthy eating plan in moderation, it is important to reinforce that healthier foods give the body more energy to run, grow and think. "Junk foods," (processed foods high in fat and added sugar), contain a lot of calories and very few nutrients. Those calories don’t provide the body with much energy and are converted to fat by the body, as opposed to the calories in nutrient-packed foods, which provide lots of energy and are easier for the body to burn.

It is important to connect kids with their food and get them thinking about food less in terms of "good" and "gross" and more in terms of "healthy" and "less healthy" (or "energy" and "empty"). For the younger grades, we refer to "energy" foods as "go" foods and "empty" foods as "slow" foods. Older children may be more likely to make healthy choices if they understand why, specifically, these foods are beneficial for them.

Healthy ("Energy"/"Go") Breakfast Foods and Drinks:

  • chicken or turkey sausage
  • beans
  • oatmeal with skim or low-fat milk and honey
  • whole grain (brown) bread or toast
  • cream of rice or wheat with water and honey
  • skim or low-fat yogurt, cheese, and milk
  • bananas
  • peaches
  • spinach omelets
  • scrambled eggs
  • berry, whole wheat or buckwheat pancakes
  • 100% orange juice
  • whole-grain cereals like Cheerios and Wheaties

Less Healthy ("Empty"/"Slow") Breakfast Foods and Drinks:

  • doughnuts
  • danishes
  • high-sugar cereals like Lucky Charms and Frosted Flakes
  • pork sausage or bacon
  • white bread or toast
  • high-sugar fruit juices like Kool-Aid and Hawaiian Punch
  • home fries (fried in oil or with butter)
  • coffee cake
  • white flour pancakes with syrup

Related National Standards

NHES: 1.8.1, 1.8.2, 1.8.7, 5.8.4, 5.8.6, 7.8.2, 7.8.3
NSPE: 1, 5
NS: NS.5-8.6

Further information about the national standards can be found here.

Youth and Schools

New York Road Runners Mission