Wellness: Best Practices


 syorg-powerof media

A Few Best Practices in Nutrition Education; Sample Ideas

Best Practices

  • Introducing new foods/often, early: 10-15 times in social context (family/peers)
  • Active participation on part of the learners (garden, shop, cook, create: hands-on
  • Familiarize, use taste tests, get acceptance early (trial size bites, healthy habits)
  • Focus on healthy eating behaviors/outcomes vs food specific vitamins-nutrients
  • Self-assessment/feedback (evaluate family access/environment/culture: relate)
  • Kids teach parents “why to buy” tips/health habits (empower child/change agent)


Dare to Compare: Gross Out Game for Good Nutrition

Blends Pop Culture & Persuasion

Power of Play: Wellness Sessions from ShapingYouth.org

  • Mystery munch: Introducing a new food, positive reinforcement
  • Diet dissection: “Ewww! What are you REALLY eating?” negative reinforcement
  • Label lingo: “Watch out” words/ingredients, health literacy & food ads/packaging
  • Sim City: Hands-on, tactile simulations/role play (jumping jacks with 5pound cans in aprons, feel the fatigue; playdough extruder/clogged arteries, etc)
  • Switch Pitch: Suggestions for healthier replacements, baby steps in intervention


Counter-Marketing/Behavioral Intervention

Shaping Youth’s Methods: Counter-Marketing Pop Culture Cues, Part of M-power Media Lit/Entertainment Series

Helpful teaching model: BJ Fogg, Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab: Behavior Model.org


  • Change the channels of influence
  • Tap into emotional triggers (acceptance, belonging, popularity, etc)
  • Find behavioral motives
  • Flip the allure, disrupt the cycle, put kids ‘in the know’
  • Balance the message, shift the rationale (‘follow the money trail’)
  • Precedent, Persuasion, Peer Perpetuation (see ShapingYouth/team snack example)


Food for Thought: Media to Digest for Healthier Kids



Health Literacy + Media Literacy

Dare to Compare: A Gross Out Game for Good Nutrition

Works best as a hands-on demo in small groups rotating stations (10 per group/3 ‘stations’ 30-35 kids) but here’s a descriptor/sample of a ‘one classroom setup’

Format: Hands-on tasting demos, guessing games, ‘how to build a beverage/brand’

Topic Area: Health/media literacy: Nutrition/sports drink counter-marketing

Media Munching Icebreaker: 5 minutes

Make the correlation between what goes into our mind and what goes into our body

Pass out Pringles ‘Movie Trivia’ chips (media printed ON the food!) to show gimmicks being used to entice. ‘Dare’ them to eat one, then reveal the science behind what’s in it. Ewww…quick simulation of arteries/sodium intake via playdough/extruder (soft) vs. hardened playdough which can’t pass through; lesson on sodium in sports drinks

Deconstructing Beverages: Hype vs. health: 40 minutes

  • 10 minutes: Guessing game/spooning sugar/salt into cup: contents of Powerade, Gatorade, Vit water, sodium/sugar just extra cals/chemicals (Dr. Katz of Yale calls sports drinks overkill a “Hummer in a bottle”) Give basic sodium/sugar facts in sports drink sample sheet; US kids’ sodium intake 3X desired daily value
  • 10 minutes: Color/coding cues: “punk’d” point: Two glasses next to each other exact same color, one’s toxic, e.g. Windex/Blue Powerade, Green Gatorade/antifreeze Which one? “I don’t know what’s in it!’ “Exactly…you should KNOW what you’re putting in your body before you consume it.”
  • PLAIN water best hydration unless replacement exertion full tilt 60min sweating, (e.g. in HS sports, heavy duty cycling, marathons, soccer nonstop, discuss chemistry/science of unquenchable thirst/drinking higher quantity/volume)
  • 20 minutes: “Branding” H2O vs Sports Drinks: How are brands created?
  • Kids create names for H2O (Sky Tears, River Wine, Glacier Freeze etc) then ‘vote’ American Idol style for what would sell in their neighborhood’
  • Upload names/art to Animoto, create one into prototype label to ‘star’
  • Show all kids’ creations in a list on the screen (or individual cards, as Animoto music features them to the beat)
  • Digital outcome: engagement, ‘immediate gratification,’ pride in media/health literacy ‘working’ in field as Jr. ad execs)

Wrap-Up: 5 minutes Review where else sodium is ‘hidden’ in foods beyond obvious (sauces/soups/cereals,often used for flavor/swap in ‘reduced fat/light’ versions of products) Promo/Pt2: Ingredient scavenger hunt, Pt3: additives/chemicals dyes in sports drinks/fun science/chem activity Pt4: eco/environmental/global impact of sports drinks/bottled water exported as a “manufactured need” Pt5: mktg of “Vitamin H20”etc 

Dare to Compare: A Gross Out Game for Good Nutrition © Shaping Youth