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Education Hub

Fuel your body

9 to 12 years old

Food, glorious food!

There are so many amazing things to love about food, from gardening and farming to cooking and kitchen skills. It’s a way to connect with our culture, spend time with our families and celebrate special occasions (birthday cake, anyone?)

Food also gives us energy. When it comes to fuelling your body, it’s super important to eat enough food, listen to your body, add lots of colour and try new things. We also want to make sure we don’t get hung up on “rules” about food, so we can feel confident to embrace all the foods we love.

Whether it’s at home, at school or online, there’s a lot of talk about food and eating. Eat this, don’t eat that… all these different messages about food can be really confusing, especially when they seem to change all the time.

Because of all these mixed messages, it can be hard to know what “healthy” really means. If you asked 10 different people, you’d probably get 10 different answers!

To help you out, we asked some nutrition experts for their top tips on fueling your body to keep it happy and healthy.

Human bodies are pretty clever. They can tell us when we’re hungry and when we’re full, let us know what foods we feel like eating, and make sure we eat a wide variety of foods. They’ve got it all figured out!

Since our bodies are so smart, we’re allowed to trust ourselves and eat the foods our body wants. When we listen to our body’s signals, we actually end up eating just the right amount to fuel our body, eat more fruits and veggies, and get the mix of foods we need to provide us with nutrients. Our brains love it too!

When we eat in this way, instead of following rules about what we ‘should’ be eating, we have enough fuel to keep growing, do all the things we love, pay attention at school and even fight off sicknesses and heal injuries. See, we told you human bodies are clever!

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    Eat to fuel your body.
Our bodies are a bit like a car: they need fuel to keep them running. When a car runs out of fuel, it comes to a complete stop. When we run out of fuel, we feel tired, grumpy or even hangry! So it’s your job to make sure you’re not only eating the foods your body wants, but also that you’re eating enough to keep your engine running for the entire day.
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    Listen to your body.
Our bodies can tell us when we’re hungry and when we’re full – we need to listen out for these signals so we can act on them! When our stomach feels empty, our energy drops and we start thinking about food non-stop, that’s our body telling us we’re hungry. When we feel satisfied about the food we’ve just eaten, our stomach is physically full or rounded (but not uncomfortable) and our brain loses interest in eating, that’s our body telling us we’re full.
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    Eat as many colours as you can.
You don’t need to focus too much on what you’re eating – listen to your body, not your brain. Our bodies tell us what foods we feel like eating, and they even suggest mixing it up a bit if we’ve been eating the same food over and over again. We can give them a helping hand by eating fresh food with lots of different colours at each meal to make sure we’re getting all the nutrients we need to stay happy and healthy.
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    Try new foods.
Trying new foods might seem a bit scary, but it can also be exciting! If you don’t want to eat the new food straight away, you could try smelling it, touching it or even chewing it then quietly spitting it out into a tissue (we won’t tell anyone!) It can take up to 20 times for our senses to get used to a new food, so it’s worth giving it a try even if you didn’t like it last time. You might be surprised!
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    Don’t make food the ‘bad guy’.
You’ve probably heard people talk about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods, or ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ foods. Some people might even use the term ‘junk food’. These labels aren’t very helpful though because food is food, and all food is fuel. If you want your body to be as healthy as can be, the best advice is to add in lots of fruit and vegetables and focus on eating fresh food rather than things that come in packets. Simple!

Please remember this information is general and written for lots of different kids. If you have been given specific advice about food from a health professional (like a doctor or dietitian), please continue following their advice as it is tailored for YOU! 

Interactive Downloads

DOWNLOAD THESE FREE RESOURCES TO HELP YOU EMBRACE YOUR BODY!

Colour Your Lunchbox
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Eating All The Colours Of The Rainbow Worksheet

Move Nourish Respect Enjoy Printable

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answers to your questions

Use your mouse (or finger if you’re on mobile) to select each tile and check out the answers to the Embrace Kids Questions from our experts.

Q: Does it matter if my friend’s lunch-box looks very different to mine?

A: Not at all! Even if two people are doing the exact same activities in the day, we still have different food needs, hunger levels and likes/dislikes. It’s best to keep our eyes on our own lunchbox and not worry about what others around us are doing.

Q: Some days I am just SOOOOO hungry, I could just keep eating - is this ok?

A: Your body is going through huge surges in growth - up to 8 cm a year - and the fuel for this has to come from your food! As long as you are checking in and listening to your body, it’s ok to eat a lot one day and a little the next.

Q: Should I avoid all ‘junk’ food to be healthy?

Avoiding types and groups of foods isn’t a good idea, when we avoid foods - we end up making a bigger deal over them than we need to. You can be healthy and eat all foods. Listen to what your body wants and trust this.

Q: I love sweet things - is this ok?

It is ok! Sweet foods are a part of a mixed healthy diet. Our bodies are very smart and will make sure that we get a mix of foods in. If we eat a lot of one type of food, our body will send us signals to pick a different food after a while. There is no need to worry about eating too many sweet foods, we just need to tune in to those signals.

Q: The foods we eat at home in my family are very different to others at school - how do I make sure I can eat healthily?

A: Just because the foods we eat are different to others, doesn’t make them bad or unhealthy. If you are wanting to do something to eat healthily, make sure you are eating enough food and add in some colour from fresh foods like fruit or veggies.

Q: I really don’t like broccoli - I know it’s good for me, but ergh!

A: Everyone has their own likes and dislikes when it comes to food. However, when we add foods together, it can change the way it tastes. You may not like steamed broccoli, but you could find it tasty when butter or garlic is added. If you really don’t like broccoli, you can always ask for another veggie instead.

Q: Sometimes I feel really hungry in class not long after eating - what can I do?

Make sure you’re eating enough food to fill your stomach at snack and meal times. Or you can add foods that have longer lasting energy such as:
1. Fruits
2. Vegetables
3. Grainy or wholemeal breads, muesli bars, oats, pasta, rice, cereal and more
4. Milk (cows, soy, oat etc), yoghurt, cheese
5. Meat, fish, eggs, nuts, tofu, beans.

Q: I hear adults talking about diets to lose weight - will I need to go on a diet when I’m older?

A: Most adults have grown up with marketing, telling them that they need to lose weight to have a healthy body. We now know that this isn’t the case, however some adults still find it hard to let these messages go. Even when you grow up to be an adult, it is wise to eat enough to fuel your body, rather than focusing on diets.

My commitment to myself

I will accept and appreciate my body.
I will fuel and move my body because it feels good!
I know that I have special magic – unique only to me.
What I look like is not as important as what I do and who I am being in this world.
I will Embrace my body and encourage other people to do the same.

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