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Recovering From Bad Eating>Recovering-From-Bad-Eating

  • Subject: Social/Emotional Health
  • |
  • Grade(s): 6-12
  • |
  • Duration: Three class periods

Lesson Plan Sections


Students will
  • Research prevalent disorders of the digestive system.
  • Develop a presentation describing a specific disorder and its causes.
  • Discuss the role of diet in the development and treatment of the disorder.


  • Recovering from Bad Eating videoand VCR, orDVDand DVD player
  • Computer with Internet access
  • Newsprint and markers


  1. Begin the lesson by showing a few minutes of segment 1 (System Breakdown) of the video. Then have a short discussion about the segment. What kinds of disorders were shown? How were the people in the video addressing their problems?

  2. Point out that many disorders of the digestive system are related to diet. To find out more about this relationship, tell students that they are going to have an opportunity to research one of the following disorders of the digestive system:

    • gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
    • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
    • ulcerative colitis
    • diverticulosis
  3. Tell students to pick a partner to work with. Have each pair pick a disorder to research. Make sure students find out the following about their disorder:

    • What it is
    • What causes it
    • The role diet plays, as a cause or as part of the treatment
    • Other ways the condition can be treated
    • The effect the condition has on an individual's life
  4. The following Web sites have useful information about each disorder. They are a good starting point for exploring the topic.



    Ulcerative Colitis


    • As students work, they should consider the best way to present the information to the class. Possibilities include a poster, a PowerPoint presentation, or a print piece, such as a brochure or pamphlet.

    • Tell students to work on the projects for homework and to bring to class any materials they need to finish their presentations. Give students some time during class to complete their projects.

    • Ask for volunteers to present their findings to the class. Try to have at least one presentation on each disorder.

    • Conclude the lesson by discussing the role of diet in the development of these disorders. Is eating a healthful diet a way to prevent the onset of any of these disorders? How is diet a tool in helping people to overcome these disorders?

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Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
  • Three points: Students were highly engaged in class discussions; researched their topic comprehensively; worked effectively with their partners to develop a creative, interesting, and accurate presentation.
  • Two points: Students participated in class discussions; researched their topic adequately; worked with their partners satisfactorily to develop a competent and mostly accurate presentation.
  • One point: Students participated minimally in class discussions; did not research their topic completely; had difficulty working with their partners; did not develop a complete and accurate presentation.

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digestive system
Definition: The organs through which food travels so that it can be broken down into the nutrients the body needs. These organs include the mouth, the esophagus, the stomach, the small intestine, and the large intestine.
Context: If one part of the digestive system isn't working properly, then it is going to be more difficult for the body to complete this essential process.

Definition: A condition in which pouches form in the large intestine
Context: Scientists suspect that diverticulosis may be caused by too little fiber in the diet.

gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Definition: A condition in which the lower part of the esophagus doesn't close properly, so that contents from the stomach travel back up into the esophagus instead of continuing to travel downward through the digestive system.
Context: Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as heartburn, creates a burning sensation in the chest because of the acids that have seeped back into the esophagus.

irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Definition: A disorder of the digestive system characterized by stomach pain and bouts of diarrhea and constipation.
Context: Between 10 and 20 percent of all adults report having irritable bowel syndrome, which appears to be exacerbated by anxiety and stress.

ulcerative colitis
Definition: Inflammation in the lining of the large intestine, resulting in frequent episodes of diarrhea.
Context: Unlike other disorders of the digestive system, which are caused largely by poor eating habits, ulcerative colitis may be the result of a virus.

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National Academy of Sciences
The National Science Education Standards provide guidelines for teaching science as well as a coherent vision of what it means to be scientifically literate for students in grades K-12. To view the standards, visit this Web site:

This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:

  • Science in Personal and Social Perspectives: Personal and community health

Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)
McREL's Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education addresses 14 content areas. To view the standards and benchmarks, visit

This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:

  • Health — Understands essential concepts about nutrition and diet.
  • Health — Know how to maintain and promote personal health.

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Marilyn Fenichel, education writer and editor

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