Time: 45-60 minutes


This activity is designed to give families practice in applying what they have learned in the FRIDGE program about family communication and about food and nutrition. Ideally, it will result in family plans, collaboratively made, to improve the family diet.


In order to help the participants in this activity move from their old food behaviors to the new, recommended behaviors, each family creates an "Out with the 'Unhealthy'" and "In with the 'Healthy'" wardrobe of food items which represents the kind of foods they used to eat (and which they still might be following) and what is recommended now (and what they should be following).


General Objective

  • Families will establish specific plans to adopt healthier food selection practices.

Specific Objective

  • Using pictures from grocery store ads and clothing hangers, participant will be able to construct a visual representation of old food preferences and new food choices which reflect current (2010) MyPlate recommendations.


  • Paper and pencils
  • 1-2 pairs of scissors per family
  • Food advertisement flyers from the grocery store (1-2 per family)
  • Small paper clips (about 15-20 per family)
  • 2 metal clothes hangers per family
  • MyPlate food guidance system infor­mation [See handout 2-1 (2) (g), in Section 2.]


  1. Ask participants to regroup into their own family groupings. Explain that currently our new FGS emphasizes decreasing our sugar intake, increasing whole grains, decreasing unhealthy fats, and eating more fruits and vegetables. [Distribute and conduct a brief review of a handout of the MyPlate FGS. [See handout 2-1 (2) (g), in Section 2.] The facilitator will need to describe what whole grains are, give some examples of healthy and unhealthy foods, and emphasize eating a variety of fruits and vegetables.]
  2. In order to help the participants in this workshop move from their old food behaviors to the new, recommended behaviors, have each family create an "Out with the 'Unhealthy'" and "In with the 'Healthy'" wardrobe of food items. Explain that each family will be creating two hangers of food items, similar to having two wardrobes of clothing -- the old stuff you don't want any more or which doesn't fit well, and the new stuff or new items which fit better.

    Give each family two wire hangers, 1-2 pairs of scissors, a dozen paper clips (small size) and 1-2 grocery store flyers. Ask one or more family members to cut out pictures of food items or beverages in the grocery ads that would go "out with the 'unhealthy'" -- in other words, they should be deleted or reduced in their diet. At the same time, they can be cutting out pictures of foods which would go "in with the 'healthy.'" These are foods or beverages which should be included in the diet. Provide paper and pencils so families can draw what they can't find in the ads.

    It is easy to find lots of pictures, BUT it is difficult to make the commitment to delete some of these foods and beverages from the current diet or to include more of some foods in our current diet. For example, a family member might cut out a picture of soda to hang on the "out with the 'unhealthy'" and a picture of bottled water for "in with the 'healthy.'" Each generation represented in each family should choose one or more foods to hang on each hanger (they can poke a hole in the food picture with the paper clip and then hang it on the hanger).
  3. They should come to consensus that the family will wear the new "family food wardrobe" and support each other in efforts to change behaviors. Not everyone needs to agree on the same foods; however, there should be agreement on general strategy (e.g., reducing intake of fried foods or fatty foods) and everyone's willingness to help support each other's attempts to change.
  4. At the end of this activity, highlight how it is not enough for family members to know the difference between healthy and unhealthy foods. They need to communicate and work together to develop and implement plans that lead to healthier dietary practices.


An alternative way to frame this activity is to use hand-drawn pictures of clothes and ask participants to write on them the foods or behaviors they would like to change. This way participants could write behaviors as well as foods and they are not limited to grocery store circulars.

Also, there are different ways to make the healthy and unhealthy "wardrobes," for example, by using a stick instead of a hanger and using yarn instead of paper clips to hang the items.

Contact Us

Matthew Kaplan, Ph.D.
  • Professor, Intergenerational Programs and Aging

Contact Us

Matthew Kaplan, Ph.D.
  • Professor, Intergenerational Programs and Aging