This lesson helps young people understand how choosing healthful snacks is a habit that can benefit them every day as they grow. The youth will discuss their snacking habits and make a plan to switch out unhealthful snacks with healthful ones.
Before facilitating this lesson, you may want to review the following information about snacking. These facts can be shared with young people during your discussions.
- Snacks are foods we eat between meals to satisfy hunger and supply us with consistent energy. To lots of kids and teens, a snack is a bag of chips, some cookies or other high calorie, low nutrient food. Kids are eating more snacks than ever and their calorie intake from those snacks has nearly doubled over the last 30 years. Unfortunately, the extra snacking has contributed to individuals becoming overweight in our society.
- Does that mean snacking is bad for kids? Definitely not! Snacking can help them stay focused at school and while doing homework, and give them a nutritious boost for the day.
- When we think of healthful snack choices we should look to the five food groups (vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy and protein).
- Healthful snacks are ones that fit into the five food groups. For example, string cheese (dairy) and carrot sticks (vegetable). Potato chips may start out as a healthful vegetable but after processing, it becomes high in calories, fat and sodium.
Activity: Snacking Habits
- Ask the youth: What is a habit? A habit is something you do often or regularly, without even thinking about it.
- Ask young people to name some habits and write their answers on the board. Habits might include brushing teeth, cracking knuckles, biting nails, smoking or exercise.
- Ask young people to circle the habits that are good for you. Are there more unhealthful habits listed than healthful ones? Why? Possible answers might be:
- easier to do unhealthful habits
- harder to do healthful ones
- healthful ones might need reminding or support from family or friends.
- Have each young person take out a piece of paper and pencil and ask them to write down up to five things that they eat on a regular basis for snacks. Give the youth time to write their answers. Invite young people to share what they wrote.
- Ask the youth, why do we eat snacks? When do we eat snacks? Can the snack choices you make over and over become a habit? How do you know if your snack choice is a healthful habit for you or one that is not healthful? Give them a few minutes to brainstorm and share their answers. Explain how foods that fall into the five food groups are healthful snacks and ones that we should choose regularly over unhealthful snacks.
- Ask young people to share what might be some consequences (results) of making unhealthful snack choices a habit over time. Possible answers might be:
- extra weight
- blocked arteries
- heart disease
- being tired.
- Open the Online Interactive Lesson and Activity. This helps you review the benefits of healthy snacking and gives examples of many snack foods from the five food groups. Young people can choose snacks from the food groups to build their own creative snack idea.
- Have the youth to create an action plan for choosing healthful snacks instead of unhealthful snacks on the My Pledge to Eat Right and Move More worksheet.
Ask the young people to identify someone (friend, family member, or teacher) to help support or remind them of their action plan to change their snacking habit.
Continuing the Conversation
Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, so that families can work together to plan smart snacks at home.
Additional Instructor Resources
Healthy Snack Attack
Are You a Smart Snacker? – (Russian) – (Somali) – (Spanish)
There Are Sneaky Sugars! – (Russian) – (Somali) – (Spanish)
What Kind of Sugar is in Your Food? – (Russian) – (Somali) – (Spanish)
Check the Nutrition Facts Label! – (Russian) – (Somali) – (Spanish)