WHEN you were very, very young you ate for three reasons first, because you were “hungry” and had dreadful gnawing pains in the region of your stomach; second, because the taste and smell of whatever you were eating was exceedingly pleasant; and third, because the grown-ups simply made you.
When you grew a little older, you ate for the same reasons, but because you were bigger, you asserted your rights and refused to eat dishes that didn’t please your palate. Then you were sent to bed without any supper, to dream of mountains of ice cream, gingerbread houses and rivers of soda water. But sending you to bed was the last resort. Your parents first tried to reason with you or bribe you.
Curly hair would be yours if you would eat the crusts of your bread; spinach would make you tall; cereal gave you muscles and energy. And if you didn’t have energy, you’d have to lie on a couch all day long, like the poor little boy down the street.
The energy story had the most appeal. You could visualize yourself out prowessing the whole gang, so you manfully gulped down the oatmeal. Probably if your mother knew of what you were thinking she would have skipped the energy story, for she was thinking of errands to the corner store swiftly done and report cards with all A’s.
Nevertheless your ideas of energy were quite similar, for you were both thinking of external work. This is only one part of the energy needs of the body. It is also needed for all the internal work that is going on and for growth or repair.
Now the only source of energy we have is the food we eat. You will recall that after the food is digested and carried to the various parts of the body, it is utilized in the building and repair of tissues and in the presence of oxygen is burned to give forth energy, and as a by-product, heat.
When you stop to consider how different the various parts of your body are constructed-how hard your teeth and bones, how firm some parts of your body is in comparison to others it is clear at once that different kinds of foods are needed for the different structures. Personal experience has proved to you, too, that certain kinds of food have very definite visible effects. Too much fat and sweet foods make you soft and flabby; too much meat seems to make you “beefy”. Hence the need for a balanced diet.