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Stop N Go

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

Tags: nutrition activities, middle school, dinner

Description: Students move or freeze depending on whether a healthy or unhealthy dinner food is named.
Objective: Students will distinguish between "energy" ("go"/healthy) and "empty" ("slow"/less healthy) dinner foods.
  1. Ask the students to stand against a wall facing you.
  2. Quickly explain or review what makes a food an "energy" food vs. an "empty" food. ("Energy" foods are high in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, which provide energy for the body and mind to focus on schoolwork and perform well in sports and activities. "Empty" foods are high in fat and added sugar, which provide a burst of energy, but the energy is burned off quickly leaving people more tired and hungry afterwards. Eating a lot of "empty" foods can lead to long-term health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure.)
  3. Explain that you are going to play "'Energy'/'Empty'" again, but this time with dinner foods.
  4. Call out the dinner foods listed below in a random order.
  5. Start the game with an "energy" food.
  6. If the students feel a food is an "energy" dinner food they should jog (or skip or hop) toward you at the other end of the room.
  7. If the students feel a food is an "empty" dinner food, they should freeze in place.
  8. 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.
  9. If time permits, review some foods and their "energy" or "empty" classifications with the class.

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") Dinner Foods and Drinks:

  • asparagus
  • avocado
  • brown rice
  • black beans
  • grilled tuna
  • corn
  • green beans
  • mushrooms
  • snap peas
  • salads
  • tofu
  • watermelon
  • yogurt
  • zucchini
  • baked potatoes
  • steamed broccoli
  • steamed cauliflower
  • carrot sticks
  • grilled chicken
  • grilled turkey
  • grilled salmon
  • low-fat macaroni and cheese
  • low-fat milk
  • whole-grain (brown) noodles
  • low-fat vegetable pizza
  • turkey sausage
  • corn or whole wheat tortillas
  • vegetable burgers

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

  • hamburgers
  • hot dogs
  • french fries
  • creamy soups
  • soft drinks
  • cookies
  • refried beans
  • fried chicken
  • fried fish sticks
  • high fat pepperoni pizza
  • General Tso's chicken
  • sweet and sour chicken

Related National Standards

NHES: 1.8.1, 1.8.2, 1.8.7, 7.8.1, 7.8.2, 7.8.2
NSPE: 1, 5
NS: NS.5-8.6

Further information about the national standards can be found here.

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