Your body is like a big machine that does lots of different stuff: thinking, moving, talking, creating, and so much more. For a machine to do its job well, it has to get the right kinds of fuel. For a human body, that means eating and drinking the right kinds of foods and drinks. That’s what “nutrition” is all about! Whether you’re buying food or cooking for yourself, paying attention to nutrition is a great idea.
When it comes to nutrition, two things are important: eating the right stuff, and eating the right amount of stuff. But with so many different foods out there, that can be easier said than done! These lessons will help you figure out nutrition so that you can eat well, feel good, and stay healthy.
The Eat Well Plate
When we eat a meal, it usually isn’t just one food. For example, a hamburger has lots of different parts: the meat patty (protein), the bun (grain), some cheese (dairy) and veggies like lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles (vegetables). When we’re trying to have a nutritious meal, we care about how much of each kind of ingredient we use. Your body needs some foods more than others, so we want to use more of those! A healthy meal looks something like this:
That’s the Eat Well Plate, a simple guide that can help you eat healthier and more nutritious meals. When you’re making or buying a meal, try to make sure that about half of your plate is covered in vegetables and fruits. The other half is split up between protein foods (like meats, eggs, and nuts) and grain foods (like bread, pasta, and rice). When it comes to grains, “whole grains” are best: that means brown bread is better than white.
There are lots of ways to eat a healthy, balanced meal that follows the rules of the Eat Well Plate. All of the parts of the plate can be mixed and matched to create your new favorite meal!
If you want to learn more, Canada’s Food Guide has lots of information on the Eat Well Plate.
What Are Food Allergies?
Your body is really good at fighting off bad stuff, like disease. But sometimes it fights when it shouldn’t, and that can hurt you. When someone’s body picks a fight with certain foods, that’s called an “allergy.” If you eat something that you’re allergic to, it can make you really sick.
If you have an allergy, it’s important to avoid the foods you’re allergic to. Sometimes that means looking at food containers or restaurant menus, and sometimes it means asking for help if you’re not sure. The person who cooked the food usually knows what’s in it!
Check out this video to learn more about how food allergies work:
Want to become an allergy expert? Try this Food Allergy Quiz!
Sugar: Too Much of a Good Thing?
You probably know that sugar is bad for you. It can make you gain weight, it’s bad for your teeth, and it can make a whole bunch of health problems worse. But if it’s bad for your body, then why does it taste so good?
Sugar is full of energy, so your body tells you to eat more of it. That worked fine back in the old days, when most of our sugar came from eating a bit of fruit, and we spent a lot of time doing hard work to get rid of that energy. But now, sugar is EVERYWHERE! There’s as much sugar in a few pieces of candy as there is in a whole apple… And an apple will make you feel full after you eat it, but a handful of candy won’t. Sugar is even in drinks, like pop, milkshakes, and fancy coffee… And drinks don’t make you feel very full at all! That’s why it’s so easy to eat and drink too much sugar.
It’s really hard to stop eating any sugar at all. But it’s important to eat LESS of it to keep our bodies healthy. Remember that sugar is a treat: you can eat it sometimes, but it shouldn’t be in every single meal, drink, or snack. Try saving sugar for dessert, rather than drinking it in soda or snacking on it between meals. That way it will taste sweeter and more satisfying, and your body will be happier!