By Megrette Fletcher M.Ed, RD, CDE
Trying to understand the latest nutrition information is confusing. There appear to be heaps of foods and chemicals to avoid, leaving very little left to eat! If you aren’t sure what to feed your family, join me in learning about nutrition, specifically macronutrients!
What is a macronutrient? The easiest way to identify a macronutrient is to see if it contains calories. Before you roll your eyes and think OMG another list to memorize, please know that there are only four macronutrients! If you are trying to remember what these mysterious four macronutrients are, let me help jog your memory: carbohydrates, fat, protein, and alcohol. These fabulous four macronutrients provide your body with 100 percent of your energy needs. If you are feeling a dip in your energy before or after eating, consider playing with the balance of your macronutrients.
The media and popular weight-loss experts promote one extreme diet after another. What these diets have in common is a restrictive eating focus and a promise to lose weight and be thin. This emphasis on weight and weight loss minimizes the importance of eating a balanced diet. As a parent, teaching our children about a balanced diet is essential because a child’s body is always changing, growing and adapting. I hear every day how parents are consumed by trying to feed themselves and their families. The outcome of this is feeling trapped by the desire to be “perfect” and “thin.” This just fuels an all-too-familiar cycle of temptation and deprivation at each meal, which results in “joyless eating.”
It breaks my heart when my families are told to follow a plan that is laced with guilt, shame and fear. Mindful eating offers, a gentler approach, which begins by understanding no one is “perfect.” We are all trying to find a balance between our wants and needs and our all-too-human cravings. If you and your family are ready to break free of the restrictive eating cycle, join me in learning about mindful eating and macronutrients – sign up to receive more blogs about mindful eating and nutrition.
Teaching Nutrition To Kids To teach nutrition, you have to have a basic understanding of nutrition. I have created a way to teach nutrition and mindful eating. This approach is way to think about food and nutrition instead of learning about specific facts or energy equation. Think of it as a frame that goes around your picture of a nutritious diet. Like a frame it has four parts: selection and portion, energy, body function and disease prevention and self-care. MEFK Infographic_F1
“These four steps become a cycle of selection, energy, function and self-care that can help kids life-long healthy eaters.”
There are four repeatable key messages to share with children. These are:
- Selection and Portion: Why did you choose to eat this specific food? What was it about the food that attracted you to it? Was it color, taste, smell, or simply because it was close or easy to eat? The Selection and Portion step asks many questions of the eater. These questions are asked in a curious, not critical, way. They begin the process of understanding the complex reasons why food is chosen.
- Energy: Food that is eaten provides the body with energy. Discover, explore and learn what is the child’s direct experience how foods provide or drain him/her of energy. Foods that contain energy are called MACRONUTRIENTS. In this simplistic graphic, there are four macronutrients: carbohydrates, fat, protein and alcohol. Since a child does not drink alcohol, you can place an X over this part of the handout.
- Body Function and Disease Prevention: Why a food is encouraged is because all the food selected to fuel the body also has a second purpose: to help the body function and prevent disease. In this section, the child can begin to discover how specific foods benefit the body now and into the future.
- A Sense of Self Care: Understanding these four steps which have a total of eight parts of the diet can help the child create a sense of self-care. This emerging sense of self-care provides motivation to continue to discover, explore, play and adapt what food or portion is selected. An emerging sense of self-care influences selection and portion choices, creating an endless cycle of curiosity and interest in nourishing the body, which is the ultimate goal of nutrition education and mindful eating.