It seems that food portions are getting bigger and bigger. This lesson for the fourth-grade from the Food for Thought nutrition curriculum teaches students about correct portion sizes.

Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • see the difference in what they think a portion size is and what it actually should be.
  • learn what “eating in moderation” means.
  • learn about “MyPyramid for Kids” and the recommended daily servings needed for each food group.

Teacher planning

Materials/resources

Teacher background information

Trends in portion sizes
Provided by Nutrition Services Branch of the North Carolina Division of Public Health and published in the Food for Thought curriculum.
Open as PDF (14 KB, 1 page)
MyPyramid for kids poster
Document courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture
Open as PDF (2 MB, 1 page)

Handouts

Portion sizes are bigger
Provided by Nutrition Services Branch of the North Carolina Division of Public Health and published in the Food for Thought curriculum.
Open as PDF (197 KB, 2 pages)
Changing your plate
Provided by Nutrition Services Branch of the North Carolina Division of Public Health and published in the Food for Thought curriculum.
Open as PDF (10 KB, 1 page)
Let’s make a hamburger
Provided by Nutrition Services Branch of the North Carolina Division of Public Health and published in the Food for Thought curriculum.
Open as PDF (57 KB, 1 page)
Hamburger questions
Provided by Nutrition Services Branch of the North Carolina Division of Public Health and published in the Food for Thought curriculum.
Open as PDF (32 KB, 2 pages)

Pre-activities

Students should be familiar with computing with non-negative numbers, as well as the math concepts of fractions, measurement, and estimation.

Activities

  1. Distribute the “Portion Sizes are Bigger” handout. Instruct students to look at the top row of serving sizes for pop (soda), popcorn, french fries, and a hamburger. Ask students what they think the average portion size is today. After some discussion give them the correct answers and have them fill in the amount for the portion sizes for today. Instruct students to predict what the portion sizes would be in 40 years (2050) if portion sizes increased at the same rate.
  2. Using the “Trends in Portion Sizes” teacher resource, review the concepts of “servings” and “portions.” Brainstorm the trends in larger portions by using the following questions:
    1. Why do you think portions are getting bigger?
    2. What happens when we eat such large portions?
  3. Discuss moderation:
    1. Moderation means eating a medium amount — not too much, not too little.
    2. Moderation means not getting carried away trying to do the right thing. For example, fiber is good, but that doesn’t mean eating 10 oat bran muffins a day is a good idea.
    3. Moderation means not getting stuck on just a few foods.
    4. Moderation should be used when eating foods with sugar, salt, and fat.

    Hamburgers are one of those foods that are getting bigger, but that does not mean that we should not eat them. It is okay to eat them in moderation. They are in the meat and beans group and are a good source of protein and iron. MyPyramid recommends that we should eat about four to five ounces from the meat and beans group each day. When the portion sizes are so big — for example a six- to eight-ounce hamburger, it is easy to eat too much.

  4. One way to think about what you are eating is how much space each food takes up on your plate. About half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables. One quarter of your plate should be grains. Only one quarter of your plate should be from the meat and beans group. Distribute and instruct students to complete the “Change Your Plate” handout. The “MyPyramid for Kids” handout can be used to help plan a meal.
  5. Distribute and direct students to complete the “Let’s Make a Hamburger” and “Hamburger Questions” handouts.

Assessment

An assessment may be made from the students’ completed handouts and from verbal responses about portion sizes and eating in moderation.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Healthful Living (2010)
      • Grade 4

        • 4.NPA.2 Understand the importance of consuming a variety of nutrient dense foods and beverages in moderation. 4.NPA.2.1 Compare unhealthy and healthy eating patterns, including eating in moderation. 4.NPA.2.2 Explain the effects of eating healthy and unhealthy...
        • 4.NPA.3 Understand the benefits of nutrition and fitness to disease prevention. 4.NPA.3.1 Explain how nutrition and fitness affect cardiovascular health. 4.NPA.3.2 Summarize the association between caloric intake and expenditure to prevent obesity.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Healthful Living Education (2006)

Grade 4

  • Goal 4: The learner will apply knowledge and behavior self management skills to areas of nutrition and physical activity for healthy growth, development, and maintenance.
    • Objective 4.05: Summarize the concept and the benefits of eating in moderation.