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Loopy Laps

In this game, students will speed up or slow down their movements in response to the healthiness of the food named.

Tags: nutrition activities, middle school

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 "energy" ("go"/healthy) and "empty" ("slow"/less healthy) snack foods.
Materials: None required
  1. Gather the students into a circle around 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 will list some snack foods (select examples of "energy" and "empty" foods from the list below) and ask the students to call out "energy" or "empty" for each one.
  4. Once they have correctly identified some foods, tell them you are going to play "'Energy' or 'Empty'?" again, but this time with snack foods.
  5. Tell the students you are going to name a snack food.
  6. If they think it is an "energy" snack food, they should jog (or skip or hop) in a circle. If they think it is an "empty" snack food, they should walk in a circle.
  7. Demonstrate the movements, then start the game with an "energy" food.
  8. Have the students perform each action for 10-15 seconds before naming 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 "energy" and "empty" foods.
  10. If time permits, review some foods and their "energy" or "empty" classifications with the class. Remind the class to choose "energy" 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 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") Snack Foods and Drinks:

  • cherries
  • hummus
  • nuts
  • water
  • carrots
  • pretzels
  • raisins
  • peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
  • peanut butter crackers
  • low-fat yogurt
  • low-fat granola
  • popcorn (without butter)
  • natural fruit smoothies

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


  • hot dogs
  • white bread
  • french fries
  • whole milk
  • candy
  • potato chips
  • cookies
  • soft drinks
  • doughnuts

Related National Standards

NHES: 1.8.1, 1.8.2, 1.8.7, 5.8.4, 5.8.6, 7.8.1, 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