Healthy Foods Versus Unhealthy Foods Lesson Plan

K-3 Lesson Plan

Children eating healthy food at school
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An important component in staying healthy is knowing which foods are goods for you and which ones are not. Students will enjoy learning about this because it's one thing that they know a little bit about. Here is a healthy versus unhealthy food lesson plan for students in grades K-3. Use this in conjunction with your thematic unit on nutrition.

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Foods Lesson Plan

Help students to understand food's role in their bodies by completing the following steps.

  1. Invite students to share the types of foods they eat on a daily basis.
  2. Discuss why they need to eat and what food does for our bodies.
  3. Compare our bodies to machines and how in order to work we need the fuel of food.
  4. Ask students what would happen to them if they did not eat. Talk about how they would feel cranky, tired, would have no energy to play, etc.

Healthy Eating Tips

The following healthy eating tips are provided to help you lead this lesson on nutrition.

  • Snack on fruits, vegetables, unbuttered popcorn, and rice cakes.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat vegetables with lunch and dinner.
  • Limit the amount of fatty, salty foods like potato chips and french fries.
  • Drink low-fat milk, and eat low-fat yogurt and cheese.
  • Enjoy garden salads often.
  • Encourage your family and friends to eat healthy with you.


For this activity, students will determine what foods are healthy or unhealthy.


  • Yarn
  • Trash bag

Direct Instruction

Follow these steps to complete the nutrition lesson plan.

  1. Healthy foods are full of nutrients that our bodies need. Challenge students to come up with a list of healthy foods and snacks and write this list on the front board under the title "Healthy Foods." If students name a food that is not considered healthy such as french fries, list that food item under the list "Unhealthy Foods."
  2. Next, ask students to list foods that they consider unhealthy. Foods that are processed such as bologna and pizza should be listed in this category.
  3. A good way to visually show students healthy vs unhealthy is to hold up a ball of yarn and tell students that the yarn represents nutrients that are in the healthy foods that they eat. Then hold up a bag of trash and tell students that the trash represents the sugar, fat, and additives that are in the unhealthy foods that they eat. Talk about how unhealthy foods do very little for their health and how healthy foods help fuel their body.
  4. Once your list is complete, discuss why they foods listed are considered healthy or unhealthy. Students may say the healthy foods provide our bodies with fuel and vitamins that give our bodies energy. The unhealthy foods may make us sick, tired, or cranky.

    Extension Activity

    To check for understanding, ask students if anyone has ever been to a junkyard. If someone has asked them what kinds of things they saw there. Show the other students pictures of a junkyard and talk about how the items in the junkyard are things people can't use anymore. Compare the junkyard to junk food. Talk about how the unhealthy foods that they eat are full of ingredients that our bodies can't use. Junk food is full of fat and sugar that make us overweight and sometimes sick. Remind students to eat healthily and limit or avoid junk food.


    To make sure students really grasp the difference between healthy and unhealthy foods, challenge students to draw and label five healthy and five unhealthy foods.