There are seven groups of nutrients:
- Carbohydrates – bread and potatoes
- Proteins – fish and eggs
- Minerals – milk and cheese
- Vitamins – fruit and vegetables
- Fats – oil and nuts
- Fibre – grains, fruits and vegetables
We need all of those groups to have a balanced diet, but only certain amounts of each one. For example, you only need a little bit from the fats group, but a lot of vitamins and minerals. If you had a lot of fat, and not enough vitamins and minerals, you’d notice some differences in your body. You’d put on weight, and you might become very tired from not having enough iron or have brittle bones because of not getting enough calcium. A balanced diet is part of keeping healthy.
You can keep track of how much of each food group to eat by looking at the GDA, the guideline daily amount. That’s where ‘5 a day’ comes from – it’s the guideline for how much fruit and veg you’re supposed to eat to keep healthy.
When you brush your teeth, pay attention to your gums! The same plaque that gives you cavities can also infect your gums – this is called gingivitis. You can keep your gums healthy by flossing in between your teeth and making sure you get as much plaque and food out as you can.
The foods you eat all add up to a number of calories. Your GDA tells you how many calories you should have in one day. Calories are what your body uses for energy – you need energy to get dressed in the morning, play with your friends, and take a bath. If you eat more calories than your body needs, you can put on weight.
Exercising is a way to burn calories, whether you want to lose weight or just keep healthy. Different activities burn different amounts of calories. Did you know that you burn more calories reading a book than you do watching TV?
Watch out for eating too much sugar and salt! Sugary foods have lots of calories and are bad for your teeth. Sugary foods include:
- Fizzy drinks
Everyone needs a little bit of salt in a balanced diet, but too much salt is bad for your heart. Just because a food doesn’t taste salty doesn’t mean it doesn’t have salt, so always look at the labels. Salty foods include:
There are bad things we do to our bodies besides eating too much fat. Smoking cigarettes is one of these things. Cigarettes are little sticks that have tobacco inside them, which can be set on fire at one end (it burns slowly) so people can suck in the smoke on the other end. Tobacco has nicotine in it, which is an addictive drug – it can make someone feel calm and happy, but it’s basically poisoning the lungs and heart. Smoking causes cancer, yellow teeth and nails, asthma and even bad breath.
Another dangerous thing people do to their bodies is drink too much alcohol. This is another kind of drug, like nicotine – it’s not addictive to everyone, but it is to some people. It makes people act differently, maybe saying things they wouldn’t normally say or doing things they wouldn’t normally do. Drinking alcohol affects the liver, which is an organ in your body that filters out bad things from your blood. It can also cause damage to the brain and heart.
Words to know for healthy eating:
5 a day – an easy way to remember how many portions of fruit and veg you must have in a day!
Calories – the amount of energy that a food has; if you eat too many calories, your body can’t burn it all off as energy during the day, and it can turn into fat
Carbohydrates – a large part of a balanced diet to give energy and fibre; includes breads, pasta and potatoes
Diet – the name for all of the food that you eat
Enzymes – help to break down food to help the body absorb the nutrients
Exercise – all kinds of activity that helps keep your body fit and healthy
Fats – a source of energy, and something that helps the body absorb certain nutrients; you only need a small amount of fat in a balanced diet
Food label – a little guide on each kind of food you buy that shows what’s good and bad about it; traffic lights tell you if it’s got good (green) amount of salt, an okay (yellow) amount of sugar, or a bad (red) amount of fat
GDA – stands for ‘guideline daily amount’, the amount of each food group that is recommended for keeping healthy
Nutrient – compounds in foods that are essential for health and provide us with energy
Vitamins – one of the body’s essential nutrients; vitamins can be found in fruits, vegetables, meats, grains and dairy products