Eating to live or living to eat

Shweta Mahadevan

The other day I walked into my class and asked my bunch of 14 year olds: “Do you live to eat? Or eat to live?” Pat came the reply: “We live to eat!” Such is the impact that food has these days particularly among the more privileged classes. Those who choose the latter (rare among children of this generation) will need to understand the importance of nutrition. As a teacher, how do you think you could bring ‘nutrition’ into the classroom?

The PEI (Prince Edward Island) Healthy Eating Alliance, http:// is a website that can be used by teachers just for this – whether it is promoting healthy eating practices in school or spreading awareness about nutrition through a variety of games and activities.

Litterless Lunch Challenge, an eco friendly drive is an initiative worth mentioning here. Students and staff are encouraged to bring their lunch in reusable containers with reusable packaging, utensils, and napkins. Encouraging this in our classrooms and schools will promote the 3 Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle.

The website has activity sheets designed for students of various grades making it easy for the teachers to discuss the topic on nutrition. These activity sheets follow an interdisciplinary approach with activities touching on various subjects (for example, English, science, math, etc.). If you are looking for a holistic approach to teach ‘nutrition’, this website is a boon!

The website also provides ideas for various other activities. For example, the health promotion calendar gives you a list of special days throughout the year. Students could put up shows in the assembly or in class to share information about diseases and their causes.Discussing the preventions and cures through healthy eating practices can be part of the activity. For example, Nov 14th is celebrated as World Diabetes Day. Students can create awareness about diabetes – its causes, signs, and symptoms and eating habits, like reducing the intake of sugary food items, having a high fibre diet, eating regular small meals, that could keep it in check.

This website also provides visitors with other relevant links.

To cater to Indian tastes, teachers could use ‘The Indian Food Guide Pyramid’ and and refer to the ‘Nutritive value of Indian foods’ to explain the various food groups and the number of required servings. From these, teachers can also design activities based on Indian dietary guidelines. Activities on the website like, ‘What’s the serving size’ intended for grades 4 to 6 students to list out the number of servings of various food items under various food groups can be customized for typical Indian meals. The same can be done for the activity ‘Mission Nutrition’, where students are asked to compare the number of servings they have eaten with the required standard.

Use the website to make ‘nutrition’ a fun topic to teach and learn.
Here’s to healthy eating and happy teaching!!

The author teaches biology, physical education, and geography at Shishuvan School, Mumbai. She can be reached at

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