As a volunteer with the Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital ‘Young Leaders’ program, one of my favorite activities is ‘What is Energy Balance?’ using the recommended daily food plan from choosemyplate.gov, in the Healthy Habits Booklet. It’s a part of the Girl Scouts Wonders of Water (WOW) Journey. I enjoy this lesson because it is both informative and interactive.
I always start by asking the girls what their favorite food is. It’s always fun to hear their responses. Most of the girls select PIZZA as their food of choice. Who can blame them? Pizza can be so yummy! After discussing everyone’s favorite food, I transition into introducing Energy Balance and the idea of a daily food plan including the four major food categories (proteins, grains, vegetables, and fruits) and the appropriate portion sizes to have of each based on their age and activity level. Activity level is a great way to introduce energy out! We discuss activities they enjoy and how they can include their families, like walking after dinner or going for a bike ride.
Once I have delivered the material, I like to link the girls’ favorite foods to the information they just learned. I ask the girls to list the ingredients in the food and discuss where they fit into the “What’s on Your Plate” diagram. In pizza for example, meat and bread go in the protein and grain categories, respectively. And of course, I mention while pizza can be a tasty meal, there other things we can add to pizza to hit the four major food categories. I use this as an opportunity to brainstorm ways – such as adding broccoli or spinach to a pizza and using whole grain dough.
Now that the girls are pizza experts, it is now their turn to channel their creative energy to draw divisions on their plate to represent the different food groups and color them in with the corresponding color. This leads us into the third and final part of the lesson where we focus specifically on fruit. It is in this section that we bring everything full circle and we discuss how water is in many of the foods that they eat, especially fruits. I inform the girls that their bodies consist mainly of water and fruits are one simple way to help contribute to the water balance that their bodies need. It’s fun to pass out apples or oranges to the girls and ask them to guess the amount of water in the fruit before they try some. The girls love fruit!!!
The Energy Balance activity within the Healthy Habits Booklet is fun to share with girls. While most girls are familiar with the general concepts based on classes they have taken in school, I think Girl Scouts and the Healthy Habits program helps them take the lead, sharing this knowledge with their families and friends. The girls learn that the key is balancing energy in and energy out.
Marquita Campbell is a young professional with the Girl Scouts Young Leaders Program. Marquita is from Atlanta, GA where she went to Spellman for her undergraduate degree. She attended George Washington University in Washington, DC for her Master’s degree. Marquita has been a volunteer with the Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital for over 2 years and in addition to volunteering with the Young Leaders Program she has volunteered at the annual Keys to Leadership conference and our annual summer Camp Starfish in Rockville, MD.