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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Review- Nutrition 101: Choose Life!

GrowingHealthyHomes At 448 pages, Nutrition 101: Choose Life from Growing Healthy Homes is a year-long K-12 health curriculum covering everything from brain health to exercise with appendices loaded with practical resources you’ll want to keep at your fingertips while planning your menus or shopping for food.

This text is written from a Christian perspective, contains many scriptural references, and places emphasis on being good stewards of our bodies as one of God’s gifts to us. The text also digs deep into the science of healthy bodies with lessons in biology and chemistry.

The book is divided into 6 units, each containing 4 chapters:

  1. The Brain and Nervous System
  2. The Digestive System
  3. The Respiratory, Olfactory, Auditory, and Visual Systems
  4. The Skeletal and Muscular Systems
  5. The Cardiovascular and Immune Systems
  6. The Endocrine System and Emotions

Each chapter consists of a reading selection, followed by discussion questions, suggested activities (for both Elementary and Secondary levels), a list of additional resources, and a “Power” recipe. Power recipes capitalize on particular ingredients identified as beneficial to area covered in that chapter. For example, The Brain recipe is guacamole made from avocadoes, a good source for the fat your brain needs to be healthy.

The readings are written at about a high school level and involve a fair amount of scientific terminology---you’ll delve into biology and chemistry here---and in all honesty, these really won’t work very well as read alouds for the elementary crowd. In preparation for each lesson, I read through the chapter and took notes on the points I wanted to cover with the kiddos and then dived into the elementary activities and the recipe (they loved the guacamole!) At a primary level, you could skip the readings entirely and do a few activities, just talking about that part of the body in general terms and then use the recipe to reinforce healthy eating.

I would have loved to see 2 separate readings in each chapter, the first one outlining the keys points, understandable by different age groups (including Mom), and then a second reading covering the topic more in-depth. I would also have loved to see a pronunciation guide for each new technical term. While having older students look up words as part of their independent work is good, having a pronunciation guide for reading it aloud would be a great help.

Over 100 pages of Nutrition 101 are the appendices, full of helpful charts like the authors’ suggested food pyramid, shopping lists, guides to choosing and storing produce, as well as articles on various topics from cooking with whole grains to toxins in personal care products.

There truly is a wealth of information here, but read with care. The authors have a tendency to mix fact with opinion and the book contains more than one instance of fallacious reasoning.

One example, from page 30:

On average, Americans consume 142 grams of fat a day, whereas the Japanese consume on 42 grams. Since there are no actual guidelines for fat intake, a reasonable amount for most Americans would be 50 grams or less per day.

But in an article extolling the virtues of coconut oil on page 338:

…many healthy cultures consume large quantities of fat. The Polynesian people consume up to 60 percent of their total calories in coconut oil, yet live a remarkably long, healthy life.

Why, then, do the authors suggest that we emulate the Japanese diet rather than the Polynesian diet? I’m not claiming that a lower fat diet is a bad thing or that we should derive 2/3 of our calories from coconut oil, only that the 50 gram guideline is totally arbitrary. Some sort of support should be offered for such blatant assertions and none is offered. This is one example of many throughout the book.

The text itself has numerous typographical and grammatical errors, as well as some inconsistencies. The authors are working to clear this massive book of any mistakes and hope to achieve this for the next edition, but, in the meantime, the mistakes can be distracting.

Nutrition 101: Choose Life is available as

  • an e-book on cd-rom for $79.95,
  • as a book for $99.95,
  • or as a book and cd-rom combo for $129.95

from Growing Healthy Homes. There is a free sample available here.

This review is part of the TOS Homeschool Crew review program. For more reviews of this product by other homeschoolers, visit the TOS Homeschool Crew blog.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your honesty! I, too, had a problem with a lot of the fallacies of this book and shared my thoughts with my readers.


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