Fueling Your Body - Why We Eat.
A look into Movemeant Foundation’s Body-Positive Middle School Curriculum
We at the Movemeant Foundation are committed to making fitness accessible, fun and empowering - shifting the conversation from weight loss and typical beauty ideals to body positivity and supporting one another.
To support our mission, we facilitate a body-positive curriculum for middle school girls. Week #3 in our 12-week curriculum is dedicated to teaching students about food and what it means to us. Our 45-minute session revolves around how we use food to obtain nutrients, to achieve both short- and long-term energy, and to enjoy ourselves and the social connections food gives us.
With this knowledge, we hope to encourage our girls to develop a healthy relationship with food - one that both honors their hunger, their health and their taste buds.
From her to you
If you feel you have a complicated relationship with food - we feel you on that. These days you can’t scroll through instagram, turn on the TV, or even go outside without hearing about the newest diet fad or trendy “superfood” we must consume NOW (cue the eye roll). It’s hard out here for a well-rounded, body-positive woman!
You are not alone. You have our community - offering you a safe space to enjoy yourself, move with freedom and show love to your body. You also have special access to the lessons learned in our middle school curriculum through our blog. Join our students as they learn these topics by checking out what food means to us below.
Food for health
As humans, we need nutrients to survive. These come in the form of both macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fats) give us energy. Carbohydrates give us quick energy, protein helps us build tissue, and fats help us store energy for later use. Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) help us develop properly, stave off disease and increase our general wellbeing.
In our curriculum, we encourage our girls to include a variety of foods to make sure they are consuming the nutrients they need to develop and grow. We use easy-to-understand concepts to convey the importance of nutrients, like eating a variety of colors and incorporating power foods (foods that are high in energy and nutrients) into their food repertoire. We stress that each body is different, and thus, we all require different levels of energy and different combinations of nutrients. The “food for health” concept helps them feel empowered to make choices that will support their growing bodies.
These concepts work for us, too! As women, we need nutrients to keep our bodies strong, healthy and able to do the things we love to do (how else would we make it to 6 a.m. spin?!). Incorporating a variety of foods ensures we are getting the nutrients we need, and that looks different for each of us.
Food as fuel
Because we are a Movemeant-focused organization, food for physical activity is paramount to our curriculum. In our teachings, we discuss how certain foods can help us move in optimal ways.
Here is a super cool fact we teach our girls about food: different kinds of foods offer different kinds of energy. Need a quick burst of energy for that morning run? Carbohydrates like oatmeal, toast and cereal are the bomb. Need to replenish energy after a killer kickboxing class? Protein like meat, eggs and dairy can help restore energy levels and build muscle. Fats like nuts and avocados help store energy and protect our vital organs, so incorporating them at any time is great!
We use this in our curriculum to teach students how to choose foods that will help them move optimally. It allows the girls to play with their food choices - listening to how their bodies respond to foods before and after physical movement.
We also explain to our girls the concept of “good” and “bad” foods. All foods provide energy and have flavor, and some foods also provide nutrients. Food is not inherently bad, nor is it inherently good. Different kinds of foods offer us different kinds of support.
This isn’t true for just our students; it’s true for YOU. There are no “good” or “bad” foods. There are simply foods we eat for health, foods we eat for fuel and foods we eat for fun. No more, no less.
Food for fun
To put it plainly, sometimes we eat because it tastes good. Actually, we should always eat foods that are pleasing to our taste buds! It is incredibly important for everyone to understand they can enjoy foods without worrying constantly about nutritional content or obsessing about the impact on their weight or appearance. It is important for you, too.
Yes, food gives us nutrients and energy, but it also allows us to enjoy life, connect with others and partake in cultural traditions. Just because cake isn’t the most nutritious option does NOT mean we shouldn’t eat it. It also means we can enjoy it outside of cultural traditions like birthdays and parties. Remember what we said about eating a variety of foods? That includes tasty (but maybe not nutritious) food!
Enjoying ourselves and our taste buds allows us to develop a healthy relationship with food. It allows us to become confident in our choices - rooted in health, fuel and fun - and gives us freedom to prioritize health, movement and taste in a way that works for us.
The beauty in this concept is that we are empowering young women to listen to their bodies. When they do, they’ll develop a healthy relationship with food and will thus, be healthier!
We hope this helps you on your journey towards a happy relationship with food; one that incorporates food for health, physical activity and taste. Want to add to the conversation? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!