In the hustle and bustle of high school life and in the anticipation of what lies ahead, students often forget to focus on their nutrition. According to a 2023 report, less than 15% of high school students in the United States consumed food rich in micronutrients such as fruits, veggies, legumes, and nuts. Not just that, most of the calories they consume come from processed foods that provide little to no nourishment while increasing the risk of various diseases.
Proper nutrition acts as fuel for both physical health and academic success. Therefore, it becomes essential to learn all about maintaining a healthy diet and indulging in physical activities that keep one fit and hearty.
The best part about nourishment through food is that it doesn’t have to be boring. As high schoolers, you can take various steps to spruce up your plate and explore different food options that are healthy, delicious, and important for your overall vitality.
In this article, we will be talking about various nutritional activities that high school students can be indulged in. This prepares them for the future and ensures they develop healthy eating habits early on in their lives.
Exciting nutritional activities to empower high schoolers
It is important to educate students about the benefits of following a balanced diet. However, giving them mere instructions will not suffice. Here are some interesting group activities that high schoolers can be encouraged to undertake to better understand the importance of proper nourishment:
1. Nutrition Rich Workshops
Everyone including high schoolers needs to work on their culinary skills. This serves a dual purpose: it prepares them to be independent in the future while also ensuring their present nutritional needs are met. For this activity, arrange for a workshop or seminar dedicated specifically to talk and learn about nutrition. You can also invite certain industry professionals for more enhanced learning and participation.
Start by asking students to follow simple healthy recipes available online before the day of the workshop. On that day, give opportunities to students to share their recipes and discuss the nutrition element in each food item. The goal is to ensure that you consciously make healthy choices instead of relying on readily available junk food.
Following this, invite experts to share their insights and knowledge with students. Encourage students to ask questions to them and actively participate. This activity can bring something unique and different to the table other than classroom lectures fostering active participation and learning.
2. Food Marketing Campaigns
Pick some nutritious snacks such as yogurt, whole-grain crackers, fresh fruits, hummus, and veggies. Divide the students into groups and ask them to prepare marketing campaigns for each of the food items, listing their benefits, nutritional value, and how they help us meet our daily calorie requirements. Encourage children to make attractive posters and slogans and use infographics and visuals. The peers can vote for the most engaging and persuasive campaign.
This allows them to educate themselves and their friends about the various snack items and their dietary benefits. Once students realize that most of their favorite junk food is not all that nutritious, they will have a solid reason to ditch their favorite cookie for a delicious apple.
3. Culinary Cultural Exchange
Divide your students into groups and allow each of them to explore a different cuisine from around the world. They must carry out proper research, understand the nutritional value of different dishes, and understand why it is popular in different cultures. They can prepare presentations that delve into the nutrition and health practices of different communities around the world.
You can also host a potluck where each group prepares a healthy homemade meal that is popular in their culture and brings it to class. In this manner, students will be encouraged to try different cuisines and learn more about its benefits.
4. Deep Dive into Nutritional Labels
Most teenagers need around 2200 to 2800 calories per day, out of which 45-60% is made up of complex carbs. Ask students to prepare a meal chart in which they can list different food items and their nutritional value. This includes carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, and so on.
This allows students to become conscious eaters as they are aware of the benefits and disadvantages of the food they are consuming. Consequently, they will make sure to check the nutritional labels of different food items that they purchase.
5. Undertake Farming Activities on Campus
While practicing healthy food choices, high school students can indulge in different agricultural activities on the school campus and grow different vegetables or fruits if there is space available. This is to ensure that they learn to grow fruits, vegetables, and cereals keeping in mind the nutritional value in them.
Divide students into groups and instruct them about different steps that are crucial before planting and to ensure the nutritional quality of the output. These steps may include checking the quality of seeds before planting, the quality of soil, the use of fertilizers, etc.
If your school campus does not have enough space, take the teams to a nearby farm or local market and ask them to explore around and gain insights about the process involved in order to ensure the nutritional value of the food grown. Ask students to actively participate, make notes, and then have a group discussion in the class where everyone can share their valuable insights.
6. Culinary Science Experiment
Students are always curious about the scientific aspect of things and often undertake natural science experiments to satiate their curiosity. So, they are likely to enjoy a culinary science experiment.
For this activity, divide the students into teams and allow each team to carry out proper research about how different cooking methods affect the nutritional value of food. Ask them to prepare a report, find scientific reasoning behind the difference in nutritional content, and present their conclusions to the class. This will have three benefits: it will help students learn the nutrition potential of different food items, teach them about proper presentation, and improve their research skills.
7. Undertake a Grocery Store Budgeting Challenge
In this activity, divide the students into groups and ask them to discuss the challenges they face when trying to balance nutritional requirements with budget constraints. A common misconception when it comes to healthy eating is that food items that are nutritious are by default expensive.
The goal of this activity is to dispel this myth by allowing each team to compile a budget-friendly shopping list that has nutritious food items such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, tofu, avocado, lentils, meat, and so on.
Ask the student to make a list of food items they have included in their shopping cart, the nutritional value of each item, and the challenges they faced compiling them while adhering to the budget. Then, ask them to share these findings with the class, and discuss and encourage students to formulate a similar chart for themselves without burning a hole in their pocket.
8. Organize Cooking Challenges
Divide the students into teams and assign a set of ingredients using which they have to prepare a healthy meal. This promotes creativity in crafting delicious yet nutritious meals. To make it more challenging, the teams can be given a time limit within which they have to create a balanced meal.
In addition, give them additional time during which they will come up with an argument to justify why they have chosen to prepare a particular meal and what is the nutritional value of the dish. This motivates them to become more creative and conscious of what they are making.
The purpose of any high school is to prepare students for life. These unique nutritional activities add a fresh and engaging twist to your initiatives and encourage students to explore healthy eating habits in creative and interactive ways.
Besides, by fostering engagement, you allow students to become more mindful of what they eat. They will be encouraged to check labels, consume nutrient-dense food items, and prepare a meal chart for themselves, depending on their budget. It is an effective way to develop proper eating habits and ensure that students have a deep understanding of nutritional concepts as they move ahead in life.
- Jenkins, M., Jefferds, M. E. D., Aburto, N. J., Ramakrishnan, U., Martorell, R., & Addo, O. Y. (2023). What Do United States Adolescents Eat? Food Group Consumption Patterns and Dietary Diversity from a Decade of Nationally Representative Data. Current Developments in Nutrition, 7(8), 101968. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cdnut.2023.101968