written by Kerri Tornow, K-1 teacher

What is nutrition and why is nutrition important?

Nutrition is the study of nutrients in food, how the body uses nutrients, and the relationship between diet, health, and disease.

Eating a balanced diet is vital for good health and wellbeing. Food provides our bodies with the energy, protein, essential fats, vitamins and minerals to live, grow and function properly. We need a wide variety of different foods to provide the right amounts of nutrients for good health.

One ambitious 1st grade parent prepared a well-balanced, appropriately portioned, absolutely adorable, healthy lunch complete with sliced apples cut out of alphabet cookie cutter to spell the word “Friday”, then carefully placed  in a bed of peanut butter with candy sprinkles.

When kindergarten and 1stgraders are asked about good nutrition, their answers often include the words Fruits and Vegetables.  A rainbow of fresh fruits and vegetables grown from the ground up, sometimes called “growing food” in class, reminds us of the items to eat on a daily basis for good nutrition.  As we participate in the school-wide study of nutrition and take a closer look at what we eat, everyone becomes more aware of the contents of lunch items.  Students scan their lunch containers for our daily survey to see who has a fruit or a vegetable.  The helper of the day decides on the item.  Then, each child is ask the daily question:

Do you have… carrots, cucumbers, apples, grapes, peppers, avocados… in your lunch?

Tally marks indicate the answers on the YES or NO graph. Questions about what kind of fruit or vegetable are in is each child’s lunchbox become the topic of our lunch conversations.  Who likes celery?  Who doesn’t like kiwi? Eventually, we calculate the answers and construct a daily math sentence to represent the results.  Five people have peppers in their lunch and fifteen do not is shown on the white board as 5 + 13 = 18.  Everyone’s answer is represented in numbers.

So, why should we eat so many fruits and vegetables?  Some know that it helps us stay healthy.  One student suggests that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.  We peel away at this quote to figure out what it means.  We discuss what a healthy gut is all about and how roughage, or fiber from fruits and vegetables help us go to the bathroom regularly. That’s where the book, Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi comes into the conversation.  All of our basic needs are covered in the K-1 class.  It starts with eating your fruits and vegetables every day.