Does your family serve your favorite meal on your birthday? Can you even imagine a theme park without the salty pretzels and soda? We eat on all kinds of situations, but have you ever wondered why? Lets see what our friend, Sully, has to say about eating.
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, a calorie is the amount of heat needed to make 1 kilogram of water 1 degree Celsius warmer. The average person will need between one thousand and two thousand calories a day their whole life, and this amount will increase with age (Vital Health Zone).
So what does that mean for you?
Anything seem a little funny about these recommended calories? It should. Since we want to eat the same amount of calories we burn, someone who burns more calories, an athlete for example, needs to eat more food.
So how can you know the right amount of calories for you? One way is to both eat and exercise as much as experts advise. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggests an hour of physical activity every day for children and teens. You can also find a recommended daily calorie amount just for your height and weight at www.livestrong.com.
Not all food is the same, though, so counting calories is not enough. You also need to know how much of what KINDS of foods to eat.
The Basic Food Groups
There are six basic food groups:
meats and proteins
sweets, oils and fats
The body needs more foods from some of these groups than others, which is one reason you may have seen the food groups shaped into a pyramid, which the food groups you need less of placed closer to the top of the pyramid. One of the most famous food pyramids was created in 1992 by the United Sates Department of Agriculture. Look familiar?
The Pyramid gets a face-lift
In 2011, the USDA decided to change the pyramid into slices instead of sections. This way, the slices show a proportion of the whole pyramid, like a fraction. Stairs were also put going up the pyramid to encourage Americans to stay active. This new pyramid was called MyPyramid.
Still, the new pyramid took a lot of explanation, so the USDA put on their thinking caps once more in 2005 and invented MyPlate, a diagram which shows how much of your plate should be covered by each food group. This design is easy for both children and adult Americans to imagine and apply to their own eating habits.
Along with these visuals, the USDA offers good advice about eating healthy. Eating healthy EVERY day is so important because most diets will fail (The Council on Size and Weight Discrimination). Did you know that over 1/3 of American children are overweight or obese (and over 2/3 of American adults!)? Here are some great healthy eating tips from the USDA.
One easy way to eat healthier is to cut out sweets, and foods which are high in fat or salt. Follow the Berenstain bears as they discover just how important it is to eat healthy.
Why is healthy eating important?
Eating healthy foods provides your body with the nutrients, fats, and vitamins it needs, and eating the right amount for your body protects you from becoming over or under weight. Both of these conditions can cause serious health problems(Palo Alto Medical Foundation).
Not sure what a healthy weight might be for you? Take a look at your body mass index by finding your height and weight on the chart below. Keep in mind that this chart does not consider body composition. If you are very muscular, you may weigh more than is recommended by this chart and still be healthy, or if you have very little muscle, you may be overweight even though this chart says you are healthy (Top End Sports).
Even though being overweight can cause so many health problems, being underweight is not healthy either. Just look at this article by Family Education. Being underweight can make you feel tired and irritable or have trouble concentrating. Over time, not eating enough may cause your body not to have enough calcium, which can lead to bone loss, or not enough vitamins, which can cause many other health problems. You can prevent becoming too thin by eating larger portions of healthy foods.
So, you understand how important it is to eat healthy,but sometimes it does not seem as simple as the food pyramid makes it. One way you can take charge or your own nutrition is to learn to read labels. Take a look at the label on a food item in your house. Seem difficult to decode? Let us break it down for you.
Finally, it is important to realize that not everyone eats the same. Southeastern Michigan Dietetic Association suggests foods you might find in the food pyramid from 37 different cultures! Not only do different cultures find different ways of satisfying their nutritional needs; they may have different rules for how to eat. For example, the Muslim faith does not allow the eating of pork.
Still, culture is not the only cause of dietary diversity. Some people do not believe in eating animals, and others will not even eat animal byproducts such as milk, so they must meet their protein needs in other ways. Others want to avoid processed foods, and still others have food allergies. The possibilities are limitless, but the important thing to remember is to be aware that others may not be able to eat or choose to eat everything that most do, and some will need accommodations, such as peanut free tables or gluten free lunches in schools. Remember that food allergies are serious and should never be joked about. As a school, you are responsible to help keep students with food allergies safe. The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network describes how to "CARE" for students with peanut allergies.
There is so much that can be said about organic eating and about avoiding meat, but below you might find some explanations that are surprisingly familiar. If you are young, or sensitive, you may want to skip the "Meatrix" video.