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?