Wednesday, March 10, 2010

starting early

Tomorrow I am teaching a nutrition class for 10 teenage girls. I'm going to talk about some basics, but I'm struggling to know which way to go beyond that. When I was their age, a lady taught us a class at church and all I remember was that she said, "Face it, girls. You eat beef, you'll be beefy. Eat pork, you'll be porky." I left that class thinking nutrition was weird, and continued to buy two cookies and a roll for lunch every day (pocketing the dollar I saved by not doing the salad bar, naturally).

So, these girls range from 13-18, love food, have surprisingly few body image issues, and are mostly from Africa (though a few have lived in London all of their lives). They all love their chicken, rice and other African foods, plus KFC, bags of chips, and sweets.

What do I say? What was your attitude toward nutrition as a teenager? Did anything in particular reach you at that young age? Is there anything you wish you knew back then?

I know that I didn't care a thing about what I ate until I lived with my sister's family for a summer (age 16). They are all about farmer's markets and organic and buying fish fresh at the seaside. I think that I ate ice cream a few times and some After 8 mints once, and those were ALL of the sweets I ate the entire summer. The food was amazing, I had energy, and I actually wanted to go running now and then. When I went home and got some of my favorite chocolates with my friends, I couldn't even eat a whole one. I started to make healthier choices because I noticed that the food I eat actually affects the way that I feel and function. Looking back, though, I wouldn't believe it until it happened to me.

Many people start caring about nutrition when they gain weight or have health problems. And it's so easy to be ignorant, putting off caring until something happens to you. Haven't we all been there at some point? It's hard to be motivated by something we can't see, and even harder to be motivated when those around us are okay with being ignorant, too.

So, I'm still thinking. It's also got me thinking about how I can someday instill a good attitude toward nutrition in my own children. How can I teach them to want to eat good foods simply because it's the best thing for their bodies (does that mean that I have to master it myself first?)?

Any ideas? Tricks from moms? Experiences?

I also wanted to show you the British food guide. There aren't any recommended numbers of servings for anything--they just say to go for an overall balance in these proportions. Interesting, no?


Kathy Haynie said...

I like that eatwell plate. That would be good to make in a ceramics class - paint it that way!

Why are the girls coming to the class? I think that would be a good place to start from, as you plan. Knowing what already motivates them to come can help you know what their next step might be.

Good for you to teach the class! I'm excited to hear how it goes.

Katie said...

How lucky these girls are to have you for a youth leader! You would be so fun. :) Anyway, I was thinking that maybe if you come at it from an encouraging standpoint that might be a good place to start. As in, "I found this eatwell plate online and I think England is totally on the right track!" And perhaps instead of talking about weight gain or loss talk about the religious reasons someone might want to eat healthy. After all, we learn in the Doctrine and Covenants that we should keep a balance in the foods we eat. Maybe talk about how what we read in the word of wisdom translates into what they see on the shelves at the grocery store. Obviously we don't buy "grains" at the grocery store, but we do buy bread and cereal and the kind of bread and cereal we buy does effect our bodies. Also, maybe you could talk about how we need healthy bodies in order to serve those around us. After all, how can we help babysit while someone goes to the temple if we're sick? How can we help a new family move in if we're too weak? And, furthermore, how are we going to make time to think about others if all we're thinking about is what we're going to eat next? (Ahem, I would know.) :) And maybe they'll all sit there and look dazed anyway, but at least you'll help plant seeds for the future. Bryan and I were just talking last night about a study he read that linked exercise and nutrition to level of education. And that makes sense in a lot of ways. After taking high school and college health classes I knew all about what I SHOULD be doing for a long time. And even though it took me a while to apply it, now that I've decided to give it a try, I'm not having to start totally from scratch on knowing what I can do to help my body be healthy.

alee said...

I agree with Katie- definitely pull in D&C 89...I mean we always focus on the do nots (which are important) but often neglect the dos that are so helpful...and it is scripture- so why would we obey "thou shalt not kill" and not "eat mean sparingly"?

I would try to include something, even though they don't have tons of image problems now, about how when they feel healthy and good about their body they are more apt to feel their divine worth and the love from Heavenly Father...a really hard thing to remember when we are busy worrying about how we look or feeling gross. And knowing/feeling our divine nature helps others see the light of Christ in us and thus assists in missionary work as well.

And don't forget to mention Nick's favorite...everything in moderation! Sure they can have some KFC, just not the whole bucket! :)

And I saw a plate like that on Dr. Oz the other day- they had literally taped off the food group sections on the plate to try and teach people how to eat way to go UK!

Lisa Lou said...

I love this plate! I'm with Kathy - I think I want to make one!
Also, if anyone in interested, I have a button on my blog to another blog called "Section 89". Very cool.

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