Soaring in Space with Canada's Food Guide

Difficulty: Moderate

Duration: 70 minutes

Materials: Moderate


Download the PDF version (2.1 MB)

Background

Canada's Food Guide recognizes that healthy eating is more than the foods you eat and involves:

The guide also encourages making it a habit to eat a variety of healthy foods each day by:

Foods packaged or processed in the following ways are best for space flight:

The guide shows how your plate could be divided to encourage healthy eating: half consists of vegetables and fruits, a quarter is whole grains, and the remaining quarter is protein.

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have three meals and one snack per day. They must consume between 1900 and 3200 calories depending on their height, weight, and specific needs. Astronauts can choose their foods for each meal and snack. With this in mind, astronauts need to plan or be mindful of the foods they consume during the day to make sure their diet is balanced and healthy.

Although astronauts have a hectic work schedule, occasionally they eat meals together and may swap foods from their home country. Crewmembers may celebrate holidays together by eating a traditional meal associated with that holiday. Even when there is no special occasion, eating as a group is a fun way to relax!

The Expedition 20 crew members

Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronaut Robert Thirsk and the crew of Expedition 20/21 share a meal during their six-month mission on board the ISS. (Credit: NASA)

CSA astronauts are scheduled one hour for lunch, which includes preparation and clean- up time. For breakfast and dinner they have more flexibility, as these meals are outside their normal working hours.

Although many meals available on the ISS come pre-prepared in a rehydratable or retort package, astronauts can get creative with their meals and try to "cook" something from scratch. A common creation is burritos. To do this, they use tortillas, condiments, and various food items. See below for David Saint-Jacques and one of his crewmates creating pizzas on the ISS.

CSA astronaut David Saint-Jacques and NASA astronaut Anne McClain create pizzas on the ISS. (Credit: NASA)

Limiting sodium and processed foods while aboard the ISS is difficult. Foods which are high in sodium and are processed often have a long shelf life, which is desirable for ISS missions because the ISS does not have a food refrigerator or freezer. However, foods sent to the ISS must have as little sodium as possible while still keeping the food palatable and with a long shelf life.

Nutrition guidelines for astronauts are based on the nutrition guidelines for people living on Earth; however, due to the unique environment of space, it can be difficult to meet those guidelines all the time. Once they return to Earth, astronauts can also return to following the healthy eating guidelines for Canadians as described in Canada's Food Guide.

Mission description

Participants shall navigate through Canada's Food GuideFootnote * and identify aspects of the guide which can be applied to them and to astronauts aboard the ISS. Afterwards, participants shall play a mix-and-match game to solidify their understanding.

Timeline

Breakdown Duration
Introduction to lesson and CFG 5 minutes
Explanation of activities 5 minutes
Individual Canada's Food Guide activity 30 minutes
Group activity 30 minutes
Total 70 minutes

Goal

To familiarize the participants with Canada's Food Guide

Objectives

By the end of the activity, participants will be able to

Materials

Mission preparation

Activity 1: Participants will work individually to complete the activity worksheet about Canada's Food Guide. Participants will need access to the Internet via laptop, tablet, or computer. After the allotted time or when the participants are finished, they can complete Activity 2.

Activity 2: In small groups, participants will use the knowledge gained from Activity 1 to correctly match descriptions and situations on the ISS with the corresponding Canada's Food Guide recommendation.

Download the handout 1 (PDF, 406 KB)
Download the handout 2 (PDF, 1.39 MB)

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