Dietitian Dish: Nutrition in schools

April 17, 2012 at midnight
Updated April 16, 2012 at 11:17 p.m.

Due to lean budgets and time restraints, teachers may find it difficult to fit nutrition into lesson plans.

Other programs like Boy Scouts or 4-H may have programs to help fill this gap. But there are ways teachers can teach nutrition without reinventing the wheel.

Many registered dietitians or dietetic interns will volunteer their time to teach students about healthy eating. Nutrition is not always about just what to eat, but can be fit into multiple classes throughout the school system.

In high school or middle school, nutrition can fit into science class as many chemical reactions occur when eating. In elementary schools, nutrition can be used to count the food groups or graph favorite foods and the plate method can be used to teach food groups and healthy eating as well as math.

For example, how many food groups do you eat in a day or how many foods out of each group did you eat?

Also in elementary schools, there are books that can be read at story time or even grow a vegetable, such as a tomato plant that the students can get involved in.

Some organizations, such as the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, have free programs or lessons available that teachers can use in the classroom.

Also, the United States Department of Agriculture has lessons on food safety, eating smart and being active, food science and the plate method among other topics. Check out their website at and search lesson plan.

Consider contacting a registered dietitian to come and visit your school. Go to to find a local registered dietitian in your area.

Elizabeth Sommerfeld is a registered and licensed dietitian and has a master of science degree. Send questions or comments to



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