Fuel For The Body
( Originally Published 1920 )
The Energy in Foods.—We have learned in Chapter II that the body needs food to keep it going, just as an automobile needs gasoline or a locomotive needs fuel. The energy of the body, the strength which moves the arms and legs, keeps the heart beating and the other organs working—this energy all comes from the food. From the food, too, the body gets its heat, just as the heat of a house comes from the coal put into the furnace.
Children need food also to make the body grow bigger and stronger. Year by year, as the child grows up, his weight should increase, and the change in weight is a very good measure of his general health. The table on page 241 will help you to find out the number of pounds you ought to weigh.
Do you remember that the first thing Robinson Crusoe did was to swim out to the wreck and get some biscuits to eat and some bread and rice and cheese? Do you remember how he shot goats and gathered grapes to eat, and how glad he was when the barley he had planted came up so that he could make some bread? He knew that he could not keep alive on the desert island unless he provided food for himself.
The body gets a great deal of energy when we eat certain kinds of food, while from others it can get very little. You would have to eat several whole tomatoes, for instance, before you could get as much energy as one lump of sugar would supply., The men and women who study foods and the food needs of the body have a way of measuring the amount of energy supplied by foods. They measure the energy of foods in cal s; and they have arranged all the common foods in classes, according to the amount of energy they will supply.
The Importance of Different Kinds of Foods.—In or-der to be well and strong, it is not enough to have a certain total amount of food energy. We must have also a proper variety of foods. The body needs certain special things which we can get from some foods and not from others. You could not keep healthy long if you lived on nothing but twenty dishes of cereal a day or twenty pats of butter or twenty potatoes, even though you might get the food energy you need.
There is a very important kind of food called tein (pro' tê in), which is found in eggs and meat and beans, but not in sugar or butter or cereals, and only to a slight extent in bread. You need a certain amount of these protein foods. You need, also, lime and iron and other things which are found in fruits and vegetables, and to a less extent in cereals and meats. Milk is the most perfect food we have, for it contains all the different kinds of nourishment our bodies require. Every child should drink about a quart of milk each day.
In addition to the ordinary liquid foods, such as milk, it is important to drink plenty of water, for the body needs an ample supply of water in order to keep in good health. Every child should drink at least three glasses of water a day, and more in hot weather.
Bering's Voyage into the Arctic. Bering Sea, about which you will study in your geography, was named for a famous Arctic explorer, one of the adventurous men who sailed into the unknown northern seas to find out about the strange frozen countries near the North Pole. On June 4, 1741, he set out on one of these voyages of discovery in a ship called the St. Peter, with a crew of seventy men, and with another ship, the St. Paul, as a companion. On June 20, while they were running into the Gulf of Alaska, a heavy storm drove the St. Paul to the southward, and the St. Peter, after cruising about and waiting for a time, pushed on alone to the north. More heavy storms drove the ship two hundred miles out of its course, and October found Bering still in the neighborhood of the Aleutian Islands. As he once more tried to make his way north, he met a new difficulty. His men began to fall sick. The disease began with extreme weakness "making the victims spiritless and indifferent to everything, preferring to lie down and die rather than to move about." Two deaths occurred, and at last Bering had to give up and return home with scarcely enough well men in the crew to sail the ship.
The disease from which these men suffered is called scurvy. We know today that it was caused by a very simple thing—by the fact that the diet of canned and preserved foods on which these men lived, though it contained plenty of energy, was lacking in certain special things that are necessary to keep people well. Scurvy was a very common disease - in old times, not only in the Arctic but on all long voyages in which fresh foods could not be obtained. On recent polar expeditions and on long sea voyages to-day, scurvy is practically unknown, because fresh meat or vegetables or fruit juices are provided to supply the special kinds of foods that will prevent that disease.
Where Your Foods Come From.—Men in Florida and Oregon have planted orange groves and apple orchards that you may have fresh fruit for your break-fast. Others have cultivated oat fields in the Middle West, and still others have worked in the mills to pre-pare from the oats the cereal you need. Still others have grown the wheat and made the flour from which your bread was mixed. Sugar beets have been grown in Michigan, and dairy farms have been operated in your own state, that your cereal might be sweetened and your glass of milk kept full. Your cocoa may have been brought from South America, and your rice perhaps from Japan on the other side of the Pacific.
You need all these things, and many more, in order to keep healthy. You ought to try your best to learn to eat, and to like, all the different kinds of good foods that are brought intô yôûr 1iiome from the near and the distant regions of the earth.
An Ideal Diet.—Three good meals for a child of ten or twelve years of age would be about as follows: A good breakfast would include:
1. Some fruit (an orange or an apple, a baked banana or stewed prunes).
2. A well cooked cereal (oatmeal is the best).
3. Two slices of toast or bread and butter.
4. A glass of milk.
A soft-boiled egg may be added, if desired.
For dinner there should be:
1. A helping of meat or fish or omelet or scrambled eggs.
2. A baked potato.
3. A helping of spinach, carrots, peas, or some other green vegetable.
4. Bread (not too fresh) or crackers and butter.
5. A glass of milk or a cup of cocoa.
6. A simple dessert (such as cornstarch pudding, junket, baked custard, or rice pudding). A good supper would include:
1. A bowl of some thick soup, or milk toast.
2. A simple salad of fresh fruit or vegetables
3. Bread and butter.
4. A baked apple or some stewed fruit.
Good Food Habits for Children.-The most impportant of all foods for a growing child is milk. It will give you protein of just the right kind to build up the living tissue of your body, minerals like lime and phosphorus which strengthen the bones and also some very important substances called vitamins (vi'tâ meens). It is an excellent plan to have a glass of milk at every meal besides the milk that is used in preparing various cooked dishes.
Next in importance perhaps are vegetables, which give you lime and iron and often vitamins as well. Vegetables like carrots, beets, and potatoes—the underground root-like parts of plants—are valuable. So are beans and peas, which are seeds. The leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, cabbage, chard, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, turnip and beet tops, dandelion and water-cress are particularly important. Finally, fruits like fresh oranges, apples, peaches, plums, baked apples, and stewed prunes are all healthful additions to our meals.
Cereals and bread and .butter give us most of the energy which we need for life and growth. A moderate amount of meat, fish, and eggs is appetizing and valuable; but we should never let a day go by without drinking plenty of milk and eating some fruit and vegetables.
Some Food Habits to be Avoided.—The digestive system of the body works best if we eat at regular times. Meals should be served at the same hour every day, and no food should be taken except at mealtimes. Nibbling between meals is a bad habit. If a child is hungry in the middle of the morning, a glass of milk and some crackers may be made a regular fourth meal.
The bad food habit which children are most likely to form is the eating of too much of certain highly flavored foods—pickles, sweets, and the like. The result of this is that they have no appetite left for the good nourishing foods—bread, cereals, meat, milk, and vegetables.
Fried foods, rich fat meats, and pastry are bad for children, except in very small amounts. Tea, coffee, and other stimulants should of course be avoided. They may do harm to grown people, and they are very harmful for children.