Food and nutrition are important programs conducted by all 4-H and Cooperative Extension Offices. We all need to eat right and it’s not always easy to do, especially when we have all of the leftovers from the holidays!
The candy, cookies, cakes and pies, if not still in our house, are certainly lingering around our waistlines! So, here are a few tips, many gathered from the American Dietetic Association and from the University of Kentucky Heel program.
Think about a car. A car needs gasoline for it to run and if there is no gasoline then the car will not go anywhere. Our bodies work like that too. We have to keep them filled up with food. The more nutritious the food we eat, the more energy we have to do physical activities.
The main source of energy for physical activity is carbohydrates. Some common carbohydrates are breads, pastas, and rice, as well as fruits and vegetables. The best choices for children are those that come from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Whole grains can be found in whole wheat breads, whole wheat cereals, and whole wheat pastas. All fruits and vegetables contain valuable sources of carbohydrates and are good sources of energy.
Another nutrient important for physical activity is protein. Protein helps a child’s body build muscle. Growing children need protein. Protein can be found in meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, and beans.
Too much fat from foods such as cookies, cakes, pies, and some fast foods can be unhealthy, but everyone needs some fat! Good fats can be found in fish, nuts, and seeds.
If all a child eats are foods high in sugar such as soda, candy bars, and ice cream, or foods high in bad fat such as fries and potato chips, he or she may not be able to participate in all the activities he or she would like.
A healthy breakfast is important to get a child going in the morning and to help with concentration in school throughout the day. Eating breakfast every day is important. Eating healthy snacks will give a child energy in the afternoon. This is especially important if he or she is involved in afterschool activities. However, eating too close to the start of the physical activity could cause feelings of sickness. Make sure the child waits at least 30 minutes between a snack and the start of physical activity.
Water is an important part of daily life. You want to make sure a child is drinking plenty of water. Encourage the child to drink one glass of water with each meal, and one glass before, during, and after any physical activity.
Although the article is written with children in mind, the same principals apply for adult nutrition. Many people choose the New Year to begin a diet. We often “shoot ourselves in the foot” by going to the extreme and not eating enough of the “right” foods that can make a difference in making us feel better and in turn, help us to manage our body fat and weight.
For more information on food and nutrition, contact the Washington County Extension Office at 336-7741.