I was asked to come to a young women’s group on Tuesday night to share a mini lesson for their activity about nutrition. This is one of my favorite things to do! I’ve done this for Cub Scouts, Enrichment, and Activity days. But my favorite group to teach will always be the Young women. And to be perfectly transparent, the cub scouts were the worst. The last time I went to teach, they fake snored during the whole thing! Haha. I guess I’m not meant to work with 10 year old boys!
So, to keep the evening simple, and to one hour, my basic outline was this:
- WHY: Talk about the Word of Wisdom, and why good nutrition and taking care of our bodies is necessary.
- WHAT: Talk about what good nutrition is, focusing on balance. We will have a discussion on eating from all the food groups and I can bring sample foods from each food group. (photos or real food)
- HOW: Third, we can discuss how to eat mindfully, with intention, sitting at the table without distractions. We can do a blind tasting activity to see if they can describe their food.
- PRACTICE ACTIVITY– Last we’ll create a meal plan using all the food groups, do a cooking demo and have the girls start their own healthy cookbooks!
Why we should eat healthy?
I like to start off telling the girls about why I love health and fitness. When I feel good, and I feel healthy, I’m in a better position to help others and fulfill the Lord’s work. One of my favorite LDS quotes on health is by David O. McKay at it states,
The healthy man, who takes care of his physical being, has strength and vitality; his temple is a fit place for his spirit to reside. Bodily ailments deprive us of the full exercise of our faculties and privileges and sometimes of life itself.David O. McKay
Eating healthy and taking care of our physical bodies is necessary because:
- It is part of the Word of Wisdom. We are taught to eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and meat!
- Our bodies are temples of God. They are literally gifts from God.
- We learn how to show restraint and self- control over our physical bodies. We are taught to keep our appetites and passions in control.
- It will help us become more like Jesus. He had complete self control and restraint over His physical body. From avoiding temptation, to fasting, He is an example of controlling appetite.
- Being healthy will help us do the Lord’s work! Story of Daniel?
Story of Daniel
In the days of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the people of the Kingdom of Judah were taken captive. Daniel was a young prince who, along with other outstanding young men, was brought to the palace to be taught the learning and language of the Chaldeans. When he was offered food that the Lord had commanded the Jews not to eat, he asked the chief officer of the palace to give him and his companions food that they were allowed to eat. The chief officer thought that granting this request might cause the king to punish him. But Daniel was able to persuade him to allow them to eat their own food for ten days. After ten days, Daniel and his companions looked healthier than those who ate the food of the Chaldeans. The chief servant gave them their own food for the next three years. At the end of that time, the king found that they were wiser than all his magicians and astrologers. (See Daniel 1.) YW Lesson Manual 1 chapter 38 page 167
WHAT do we eat to be healthy?
I like to focus on balance here, especially for young and impressionable girls. There is no need as teenagers, nor as adults for that matter, to remove food groups from their diet unless they have a specific allergy to a food group.
Instead, we focus on the benefits of eating a serving from each and every food group! This is when I bring out my portion plates to help them visualize each food group.
- Protein: One purpose of protein is for building muscle tissue. This is vital for growth, movement, and strength. Without protein, we don’t have the building blocks to build this vital tissue. Variety is key when it comes to protein, as different foods rich in protein have different essential amino acids that make up the building blocks of our muscles. Some sources of protein include meats, nuts, beans, seeds, dairy, and eggs. (Ask the girls what their favorite protein sources are and how they like to eat it)
- Grains: One purpose of grains is for energy. Grains are a source of carbohydrates that fuels our brains and moves energy into our cells. This is important for staying awake, focusing, and running away from boys (lol). Grains are comprised of whole grains and processed grains, and we want as much whole grains as possible. This means it has the germ, the endosperm, and the bran. When the grain is processed to make white flour or other refined grains, it strips away the bran and germ, and takes away the fiber, important vitamins, and phytochemicals. Some whole grains include whole wheat, corn, oats, brown rice, barley, quinoa, millet, and buckwheat. (ask the girls what their favorite grains are)
- Fruit: Fruit is vital to consume every day because it contains important vitamins, minerals, and fiber. We need fiber to keep food moving through our system. We can eat fruit in a variety of ways because it isn’t always in season when we want to eat it. But, you can also get nutrients from fruit when you eat it fresh, dried, canned, frozen, juiced, blended, freeze dried. Eating fruit in a variety of ways will help you get a variety of nutrients. (Ask the girls what their favorite ways to eat fruit are)
- Vegetables: Finally, vegetables are important to eat each day because they are rich in vitamins and minerals like potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, and vitamin C. Getting these vitamins and minerals from food sources like vegetables (instead of supplements) have been correlated with decreased risk of chronic disease and illness. There are many ways you can cook vegetables to find the way they taste the best for you. They are fresh, roasted, sauteed, broiled, boiled, and fried. (Ask the girls what their favorite ways to eat veggies are)
HOW do we eat healthy?
Next, I like to identify eating patterns and behaviors that contribute to good health. These include, but aren’t limited to:
- Eating mindfully.
- Eating at the table.
- Eating on a plate (as opposed to out of a box or bag).
- Avoiding grazing and mindlessness.
- Avoiding distractions.
Activity: Blind Tasting
During the discussion about paying attention to your food, and not being distracted, I like to have them taste something simple, such as a blueberry or other small food. Closing their eyes, we slowly eat the blueberry together. Paying attention to texture, flavor, feel, etc. Then, I ask the girls to describe what they are eating. We talk about how often we can eat food without tasting it. Part of eating for health is slowing down and paying attention.
Practice: Cooking Demo and Meal Planning
Finally I wanted to do a quick cooking demo to show how easy it is prepare something healthy, but also give the girls a chance to start their own healthy recipe collection! I created a little booklet for them to get started!
(Print the booklet for your handout here!) Pro tip: Choose double sided printing, and elect to flip on the short side so it prints in booklet form.
I decided to make cottage cheese pancakes with the girls because I really like them, I think the girls would like them, and I have a hot plate so we could do it at the church. Normally, it might be best to do a no-cook recipe. A smoothie is fun, but it’s pricey to buy the frozen fruit, and bringing a blender is kind of a hassle.
So, using my low calorie, cottage cheese pancake recipe (included at the bottom), I blended up the cottage cheese, oats, and egg whites. I keep it to the three ingredients because the vanilla and sugar is optional.
While the food was cooking, we talked about how to write a healthy meal plan on one of the pages in the book. The questions I ask is:
- To prepare a breakfast that includes all the food groups, what could you eat.
- To prepare a lunch that includes all the food groups, what could you eat.
- To prepare a snack that includes all the food groups, or at least two food groups, what could you eat.
- To prepare a dinner that includes all the food groups, what could you eat.
Then, they write their ideas in the book!
I really did have a great time sharing my love of nutrition with the girls, and I hope they learned something and got excited about healthier eating!