Freshmen examine diets with food journals

Freshmen examine diets with food journals

salad days Media Academy freshman Brandon Etter (left) and Marco Martinez eat salads during a Feb. 3 party that followed a unit on food journals.

Do you know what you ate for a whole week?

Freshmen at Media Academy do.

They were assigned to record what they ate every day in a food journal from Jan. 9 to Jan. 15 as part of a collaborative project in Journalism, English 1 and Computer Graphics.

“Doing the food journal made me realize how I ate too much unhealthy foods,” said Natiyah Cowan.

After finishing the food journal, Cowan came up the idea to have a salad party in her 6th period class. She says she wanted her classmates “to experience more healthy foods.”

“It was hecka fun,” she said. “Better than a pizza party.”

The food journal was a paper booklet in which students had to write down what they ate and drank and what they did for physical activities. They also had to fill in circles each day to show each serving of water, oils, milk/dairy and fruits/vegetables that they consumed.

Students recorded this information so they could observe everything they ate in order to stop eating on impulse.

“We are doing the food journals because we want freshmen to think about what they eat,” said Journalism teacher Lisa Shafer. “Hopefully, it will lead them to make better choices.”
Most students were positive about the experience.

“I am interested in the food journal because I want to be healthy,” said freshman Darianna Figueroa.

But not all freshmen liked the food journals.

“Writing down what I eat every day and night is such a waste of time,” said Damon Randle. “It’s not going to change the impulse of what I eat.”

Tiger Clinic health educator Katie Riemer introduced freshmen to the food journals during visits to the Journalism classes. She, along with Shafer and English 1 teacher Sonja Totten-Harris, came up with the food journal idea last year because they wanted freshmen to do a project about nutrition in several classes.

After the food journals ended, Riemer came back to the classes for a press conference as part of the Journalism final exam. She also analyzed a day’s food and exercise for two anonymous students.

The idea of thinking more about what you eat instead of eating it automatically was a big theme in Eric Schlosser’s “Chew on This,” a book freshmen read before doing the food journal assignment. The book made students more aware of what dangers are associated with fast food and junk food.

As part of a Do Now done during the food journaling, freshmen came up with several ways they thought the cafeteria could change to improve the wellness of the campus. Their ideas included limiting the sale of hot chips to once a week and serving fruit cups every day.

Riemer said she was impressed with both the suggestions and the food journals because “students had an opportunity to honestly assess their diets.”