Lesson 22: Nutrition for the Family

The Latter-day Saint Woman: Basic Manual for Women, Part A, (2000), 160–64


The purpose of this lesson is to help us learn the kinds of foods we must eat to stay healthy.

Heavenly Father Wants Us to Be Healthy

Our Heavenly Father loves us very much. Because He wants us to enjoy good health on earth, He has given us guidelines about the foods and other things we take into our bodies. These guidelines are found in Doctrine and Covenants 89, also called the Word of Wisdom. In the Word of Wisdom we are told to eat certain kinds of foods that contribute to good health. We are also told to avoid certain substances such as tea, coffee, alcohol, and tobacco that are harmful to us.

Different Foods Help Make Us Healthy in Various Ways

Fruits and vegetables are important because they contain vitamins that help protect us from certain diseases. Eating these foods can help prevent some kinds of blindness and infections and help wounds heal properly. These foods also protect us from many other health problems.

Meat, poultry, eggs, and fish are good sources of the protein that our bodies need to grow strong. Milk, yogurt, and cheese are also good sources of protein. Protein builds muscle tissue and aids us in recovering from illness. Pregnant women and small children especially need protein to develop properly. These types of foods also contain minerals, such as iron and calcium, that help our bodies develop and function properly.

In addition to grains, verse 16 mentions foods that grow on vines, such as melons, squash, tomatoes, peas, and beans. These foods are all similar to grains in the way they help the body. They give us some protein, vitamins, and minerals that we need. Most importantly they give us carbohydrates, which are natural starches and sugars. Our bodies use carbohydrates to produce the energy we use for our daily activities.

A Variety of Foods Is Necessary for Good Health

Some people think it does not matter what they eat as long as the stomach is filled. This is not true. No one kind of food can take the place of another. Each kind has its own value. We need the vitamins in fruits and vegetables to protect us from some diseases. We need the protein in meats and other foods for growth. (If family members choose not to eat meat or animal products, good sources of protein are beans, peas, and lentils.) Also, we need the carbohydrates in grains for energy. Planning our meals around five basic food groups can help ensure we eat a balanced diet.

  • Display visuals 22-a, “Foods from each of the food groups”; and 22-b, “Food Guide Pyramid.” Ask the sisters to give examples of local foods that fit in each of the food groups.

Each person needs a certain number of servings from each food group every day. We need to make sure that we plan meals that include enough servings of each food for each family member.

  • Display a poster of the following examples of servings from each food group, or refer to the information on the chalkboard:

    1 slice of bread; 1/2 cup of cooked cereal, rice, or pasta

    1 medium whole fruit; 1/2 cup of canned or cooked fruit

    1 cup of raw leafy vegetables; 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables

    1 cup of milk; 1 1/2 to 2 ounces of cheese

    2–3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish; 1/2 cup of cooked dry beans; 1 egg

  • Write on the chalkboard the things you ate yesterday. Was there a variety of servings from the food groups in each meal? Did you get enough servings from each food group during the day? If not, what can you do to make sure you get enough servings?

In order to have enough of each food, it may be necessary to buy less-expensive foods from each group in order to make wise use of our money.

  • Which foods in each group are more expensive? Which foods in each group could be substituted for more expensive foods in the same group?

Including the Five Food Groups in Our Meals

We can do several things to include enough servings from each group during the day.

  1. 1.

    We can start to think about what we will prepare for a meal early in the day. Sometimes when we wait until it is time to prepare the food, we find that we do not have a good variety of food in the house.

  2. 2.

    When we plan a meal, we can start with a common food—rice or corn, for example—and add foods from other groups.

  3. 3.

    We should make a list of foods we need to help us remember all five groups when we go to the market.

  4. 4.

    We can plant a garden and grow vegetables and fruits. If we have no place for a garden, we can plant foods in a bucket or wooden box. Perhaps we could share some land for gardening with friends or relatives.

Conclusion

All of us want to be healthy. Carefully planning what we eat so that we get enough servings from each of the five food groups will help us.

Challenges

Compare each meal you eat with the basic food groups. Plan ways to add foods from groups that are missing from your meals. Remember that planning meals ahead of time will help you include food from all five groups.

Read Doctrine and Covenants 89 so you can learn more about the Lord’s law of health.

Teacher Preparation

Before presenting this lesson:

  1. 1.

    Study Gospel Principles chapter 29, “The Lord’s Law of Health.”

  2. 2.

    Study Doctrine and Covenants 89. Note particularly the verses discussed in the lesson.

  3. 4.

    Talk with a government or university nutrition worker or with another nutrition expert to learn which combinations of foods in your area provide a good diet.

  4. 5.

    Assign class members to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.