Ted's teaching tips

5th May 2000 at 01:00
How to use The Big Picture

This is the 100th Big Picture to appear in Friday magazine. Appropriately, it shows the accumulation of something that is normally seen on a small scale: a family meal. This is what a mum and dad and their two children eat in a year. What would the picture look like for your family?


What do we mean by a balanced diet (sensible mix of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals)? What do these do for us (protein aids growth; carbohydrates and fats provide energy; vitamins help fight or prevent disease; minerals such as iron avoid anaemia, calcium for teeth and bones)? In which foods do we find these (eg milk, meat, eggs and fish for protein; bread, cakes and biscuits for carbohydrates; butter, margarine and cooking oil for fats; whole-grain cereals and yeast for vitamin B1; oranges and lemons for vitamin C)?

Feeding a family

Write down all you eat during (a) a typical weekday when you are at school, (b) a typical Saturday at home. Analyse your food consumption: how balanced and healthy does it appear to be? Compare your diet with that of others in the class. What happens if you have the wrong diet (lack of vitamin D causes rickets; too much animal fat is linked to heart disease; too little fibre may lead to constipation and certain kinds of cancer)? How can a family cook economically (avoid preparing too much and then throwing it away; make dishes such as casseroles, pies, soups, that useleftovers; buy raw ingredients, as pre-cooked meals are often dearer)?

Eating disorders

What are eating disorders (eg anorexia, starving oneself; bulimia, bingeing and vomiting)? Why do adolescent girls suffer more than boys? Could ultra-thin supermodels be an influence?

Writing Imagine all your favourite foods are banned and you have to devise a brand new diet. What foods do you try out and why?


Do we already eat a healthy diet? As a nation, do we make too much of a fuss about our food?

For We have never had such a wide choice in the food we eat. Supermarkets are full of top-quality fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, cheese and bread. The labels tell you about content and shoppers are much more aware of the need for a balanced diet than in the past. We are doing pretty well on it too: people live longer than ever. Faddists claim that virtually every food is unhealthy, but starvation is the world's biggest food problem, not over-eating.


Although good food is widely available, many people eat junk. Numerous reports have condemned obesity and the lack of fibre and excess of alcohol in our diet. That we live longer is mainly down to better medical treatment. But unhealthy eating increases the likelihood of illnesses such as heart disease in later life. Starvation may be a problem in Third World countries, but bad diet is one of the biggest health threats in affluent societies.

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