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Why do we need food? – Milo, age 5, Cowes, Victoria.
Just like a mobile phone needs to be recharged every day, so does your body. You need to eat food and drink water every day to keep your body going. Food gives you energy to grow, play games, be healthy and learn. Every day, you need to eat different foods from the five food groups.
The five food groups are:
milk or vegetarian choices
meat or vegetarian choices
Your body also needs nuts, healthy oils and spreads in small amounts too.
Fresh food is best. Foods that are processed and contain unhealthy fats and sugar, which is why cake, lollies and soft drinks are not recommended. If you eat lots of these your body can get sick.
The food journey
The food you eat starts a journey in your mouth where your teeth and tongue chew it into smaller parts. When you swallow, the chewed food passes into a long tube called your digestive system. Here, the food is broken down into tiny pieces that can be used by your body. This is called digestion.
Foods like wholegrain bread, vegetables and fruit contain carbohydrates and fibre, whereas nuts, oils and spreads contain healthy fats. Your body uses the carbohydrates and fats as energy so you can run and play games. Fibre helps the food pass through the long tube easily so you can poo in the toilet.Flickr/Sonny Side Up!, CC BY
Milk, meat, eggs and legumes are high in protein. Your body uses protein to grow hair, fingernails and skin and fix any cuts.
Vitamins and minerals are in your food in small amounts. They help your body stay healthy.
Vitamin A is found in meat and orange vegetables like carrots, and helps your eyes see in the dark. Vitamin C is found in oranges, and helps your body fight off nasty bugs that can make you sick.
Minerals like calcium, which is found in dairy foods, helps your bones grow strong. Iron, found in meats and some breakfast cereals, helps your blood carry oxygen throughout your body.
Do you ever hear any noises like grumbling or growling in your tummy? When your tummy rumbles, it means you are hungry and need to eat food. When your tummy feels full you can stop eating - you don’t want to feel too full.
Water is the best drink for you every day, and helps your body and brain to work properly. If you have been playing sport that makes you hot and sweaty, you’ll need to drink some water.
Without food and water every day, you will feel tired and you won’t be able to play and learn well.
As long as you eat a variety of foods each day and drink water regularly during the day, you’ll be okay.
Note to teachers and carers: Refresh.ED is an online portal that prepares school teachers for nutrition education with curriculum support materials (teaching materials, classroom activities).
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Authors: Amanda Devine, Professor of Public Health Nutrition, Edith Cowan University