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Loopy Laps

Students alter their speed according to the healthiness of lunch foods in this dynamic game.

Tags: nutrition activities, middle school, lunch

Description: In this game, students will speed up or slow down their movements in response to the healthiness of the food named.
Objective: Students will distinguish between "go" (healthy) and "slow" (less healthy) lunch foods.
  1. Gather the students into a circle around you.
  2. Quickly review what makes a food a "go" food vs. a "slow" food. ("Go" foods help their bodies go and grow.  They 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. "Slow" foods are high in fat and added sugar and can slow their bodies down.  Eating a lot of "empty" foods can lead to long-term health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure.)
  3. Remind them that although sugar can make them feel excited at first, it will make them feel very tired after a while. Ask them if they like feeling tired.
  4. Explain that you will list some lunch foods (select examples from the "go" and "slow" foods listed below) and ask the students to call out "go/energy" or "slow/empty" for each one.
  5. Once they have correctly identified some foods, tell them you are going to play another game about "go/energy" foods and "slow/empty" foods called "'Go' or 'Slow'?" or “’Energy’ or ‘Empty’”?
  6. Tell them you are going to name lunch foods. If a food is a "go/energy" lunch food, they should jog (or skip or hop) in a circle. If a food is a "slow/empty" lunch food, they should slow-motion walk in a circle.
  7. Demonstrate the movements, then start the game with a "go" food.
  8. Have the students perform each action for 10-15 seconds before you name a new food.
  9. If you wish to challenge the group further and keep them on their toes, pick up the pace as you switch between "slow" and "go" foods.
  10. If time permits, review some foods and their "go" or "slow" classifications with the class. Remind the class to choose "go" foods more often.

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 play and grow. "Junk foods," (processed foods high in fat and added sugar), contain a significant amount of calories but add very little nutrition to kids’ diets. 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 "go" and "slow"). 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 ("Go") Lunch Foods and Drinks:

  • baked fish
  • hummus
  • beans
  • salad
  • brown rice
  • skim milk
  • carrot sticks
  • grapes
  • water
  • whole grain pasta
  • wheat crackers
  • low-fat yogurt
  • low-fat string cheese
  • cucumber slices
  • baked potatoes
  • sandwiches
  • low-fat chicken burritos
  • 100% fruit juice

Less Healthy ("Slow") Lunch Foods and Drinks:

  • hamburgers
  • hot dogs
  • creamy soups
  • white bread
  • soft drinks
  • cookies
  • potato chips
  • fried chicken
  • french fries
  • fried fish sticks
  • pepperoni pizza

Related National Standards

NHES: 1.5.1, 1.5.2, 5.5.5, 7.5.1, 7.5.2
NSPE: 1, 5
NS: NS.5-8.6

Further information about the national standards can be found here.

Youth and Schools