Dr. Nutrition

By Franice & Thacia Stirling  ©2008

TINA:  Where is Mama?

PAPA:  She had to go help Grandma today, but she should be home in time for supper.

PACO:  What's for breakfast?

PAPA:  I don't have time to make breakfast for you.  Here is some money.  On your way to school you may stop at the market and buy some food for breakfast and your school lunch.

PACO:  Okay, Papa.  Have a good day.

TINA:  Let's go Paco.  We don't want to be late to school.


PACO:  Look, there is the pastry shop.  We could buy something there instead of going to the market.

TINA:  Do you think we should?  Papa said to go to the market.

PACO:  It will be okay.  He just meant to buy something.  He didn't think of the pastry shop.

TINA:  I guess it will be okay.  Let's try it.

PACO:  Oh, look at the fried pastries in the window!  They look sooo  good.

TINA:  And see those little decorated cakes.   Aren't they cute  Let's go in.

PACO:  Mmm!  It smells good in here.

TINA:   Let's get both the fried pastries and the little cakes.

PACO:  OK.  Can we have some chocolate candy, too?

TINA:  Why not?  We also need something for our lunch,

PACO:  Those cookies look delicious.  Do we have enough money for them, too?

TINA:  Yes,  and we even have enough to buy some bottles of pop.  

PACO:  This is going to be so good. I can hardly wait.

TINA:  Let's go tell the clerk what we want and pay for it.  We can divide it up on the way to school.

PACO:  Sounds good to me.

. . .

PAPA:  How was school today, Paco?

PACO:  Not too good. 

PAPA:  Why? What happened?

PACO:  I got in trouble for running in the hall and being noisy.  

PAPA:  Son, that is not good.

PACO:  Then about 10:00 I was so sleepy, I got in trouble for not listening to the teacher.

PAPA:  You know you are supposed to listen to the teacher.  We send you to school to learn.  This is not like you.

PACO:  I'm sorry, Papa.  I didn't feel very good.  My stomach hurt and my head felt heavy.

PAPA:  What did you buy for your breakfast and lunch?

TINA:  We stopped at the bakery and got some fried pastries, little cakes, chocolate candy, cookies and soda pop to drink.

PAPA:  Mmm, I see... I believe that explains a lot.

TINA:  What does it explain, Papa?

PAPA:  You had a meal of “empty calories.”  I should say two meals of empty calories.

TINA:  What are empty calories?  

PAPA:  The food you chose had quick energy, but not lasting power to get you through the day.  There was little, if any nutrition, so it was empty of what your body needed.

PACO:  So that is why I felt tired.

PAPA:  I believe so.  Tina, how was your day?

TINA:  Well, I felt grouchy all morning and I had a fight with my friend.

PAPA:  How did you do on the test you were studying for last night?

TINA:  Not very good. I just couldn't concentrate.

PAPA:  The sugary food was not the best choice, was it?  You both need to learn something about nutrition.  

TINA:  We need Dr. Nutrition!  She comes on TV every evening at this time.

PAPA:  Maybe we should see what she is talking about tonight.  Tina, turn on the TV.

DR. NUTRITION:    See the food pyramid?  It is made up of all kinds of foods.  The tiniest  section is for sugar, salt, and fats.  We don't need much of those at all, so we should eat sparingly of them.  

TINA:  We ate from the tiny section, didn't we, Paco?

DR. NUTRITION:  The protein and dairy sections are next biggest.  We are to eat moderately from them, since they also contain fats, which we don't need much.  The bigger sections are for whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.  We may eat generously from these foods.  They are rich in nutrients our bodies need.

PACO:  What is a nutrient?  I never saw one.

DR. NUTRITION:  We can't see nutrients, but they are in most of our foods.  Some nutrients help build our bodies, others help our bodies operate well, and other nutrients give energy. Our bodies need protein, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins. 

TINA:  Papa, what is a carbohydrate?

PAPA:  I think it is a starchy or sugary food.  

DR. NUTRITION:  Carbohydrates give us energy.  Sugar is a carbohydrate, but the energy it provides doesn't last long.  Starchy carbohydrates like potatoes, corn, and grains have longer lasting energy and there are minerals and vitamins also in these foods.  

TINA:  The fruits and vegetables are so colorful.

DR. NUTRITION:  Foods rich in color have lots of nutrients and vitamins to help our bodies grow and repair.

PACO: What is a vitamin?

DR. NUTRITION:  Vitamin means vital or important to life.  We get vitamins from our foods, so it is important to choose food carefully.

PACO:  We made a poor choice today.

DR. NUTRITION: We will talk about  the vitamins this evening. Vitamin A comes from dark green leafy vegetables and dark yellow fruits and vegetables.

PACO:  Maybe that means papaya.  I like those.

TINA:  And I like squash.   I wonder what Vitamin A does.

DR. NUTRITION:  Vitamin A helps your vision and makes your skin smooth and soft.  Now, you all know your ABC's.  Can you guess what the next vitamin is?

PACO:  Vitamin B.

DR. NUTRITION: There are several B vitamins and they come from many different foods, such as potatoes, bananas, lentils, chili peppers, and whole grain breads.  There are many diseases that are caused by a lack of the B vitamins.

PACO:  We had breads today.

TINA:  Yes, but they weren't whole grain. 

DR. NUTRITION:  Lots of the nutrients have been removed from the flour that is used to make pastries, plus they have lots of sugar and fat added.  They really won't make a very good breakfast.  Choose whole grain breads when possible.  Can you guess the next vitamin?

TINA: Vitamin C.

DR. NUTRITION: Vitamin C comes in lots of uncooked fruits and vegetables, but especially from tart fruits, like lemons and grapefruits.

PACO:  Oranges! 

TINA:  Pineapple!

DR. NUTRITION: Vitamin C does many different things to keep our bodies healthy and fight sickness. Next time I will be talking about some of the minerals important to our bodies.

TINA:  And we learned about Vitamin D from Dr. Sunshine.  A, B, C, D.

PAPA:  Let us turn this off and see if we can make a colorful nutritious supper, before mother gets home.

TINA:  Won't mama be surprised?

PACO:  What should we have?

TINA:  We could have beans for our protein.

PACO:  What does protein do for us?

PAPA:  It helps build muscles.

TINA:  We can have some milk for our drink.

PACO:  My teacher says that milk will help grow strong bones.  Remember what Dr. Sunshine taught us.  We need the sunshine in order to make vitamin D to use the calcium in the food.

TINA:  I know how to make tortillas.  That could be our carbohydrate.

PAPA:  Let's not forget the colorful part.

TINA:  Fruits and vegetables.  Can we have squash?  I saw some in the garden this morning.

PAPA:  I think squash would be fine.

PACO:  I would like some tomatoes and avocados.

PAPA:  That sounds good.  I think you are getting the idea, children.  We can thank God for making so much variety from which to choose. 

PACO:  I'll go out in the garden and see what is ripe.  After that empty breakfast and lunch I had, I am starved.