Nutrition is about eating the right foods to give your body what it needs.
Have you ever heard the phrase “You are what you eat”?
Well in a way its true, so it’s important to make sure you’re eating the right stuff!
Nutritious foods are ones that contain lots of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals – all of which help you and your body in different ways.
Meet the Food Groups
Roughly speaking, all nutritious food can be placed within four groups: Grain, Fruit & Vegetables, Milk and Meat. Each group has special things in them, like proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins that help you stay healthy and strong.
Grain foods come from lots of different grain plants, such as oats, barley, wheat and rice. They are a great way of getting carbohydrates, which give us energy to study hard, run around with our friends and even sleep!
Some of the stars in the Grain Group include:
Fruit & Vegetables
Sometimes people place these in two separate groups, but they are both good for us, and give us plenty of really important vitamins, such as Vitamin A and Vitamin C.
Vegetables are particularly good for Vitamin A, which help you see in the dark and keep your skin healthy
Fruit is great for Vitamin C, which helps your body fight infections and heal cuts and bruises.
They also both provide fibre, which is very important to help us digest our food, and substances called phytochemicals that help prevent diseases.
In fact, fruit and vegetable is so important that clever people recommend that we eat at least five portions a day in order to stay nice and healthy!
Stars in Fruit & Vegetables Group include:
Milk and Dairy
Milk has lots of calcium, which helps to make your bones and teeth good and strong. This is really important when you think that your body is made up of over 200 bones and you will end up with around 32 teeth!
As well as calcium, milk also gives you lots of other great nutrients such as protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Vitamin B.
Obviously, milk is included in the Milk Group, but others are:
- Milk puddings
Keeping your bones strong is important, but is pointless if you don’t also look after your muscles. Your muscles help move you around. So it’s important to make sure your muscles are strong in order that you can play longer with your friends, and this is exactly what the meat group is for!
Meats are a brilliant source for protein and iron. Most of your muscles are made up of protein, so you need to take in plenty of protein to help you carry on growing big and strong. Iron is very important too because it carries oxygen around your body, prevents infections and gives your body energy.
Stars in the Meat Group include:
Combine the Groups!
Of course, it is important to eat food from all these groups as they all work better for you collectively rather than apart.
Did you know that footballers often eat pasta and chicken before matches? This is because pasta is full of carbohydrates and chicken is full of protein, both of which are good for your muscles and give you energy.
However, it is really easy to mix and match lots of these foods as they taste good together too! Having cereal and milk along with a glass of orange juice means you get a good dose of calcium, carbohydrates and vitamin C. It’s a great way to start your day!
The Traffic Light System
Although a certain foods may be really good for say protein, it may have lots of things added to it which mean it isn’t actually that healthy to eat.
For example, cereal is a great way to get carbohydrates, but many contain a lot of sugar, which will give your body too many calories and could make you fat.
To help you out, most foods have a label on the packet which details their salt, sugar, fat and fibre levels, and a traffic light system. Red indicates food is high in fat, sugars or salt. Amber means they are a better choice, whilst going green is the healthiest option.
Of course, you don’t have to avoid everything that has some form of red on the label. A healthy diet doesn’t have to be a boring diet! It’s fine to eat occasionally or as a treat, but think about how often you choose it and how much of it you eat.