The balanced diet is the basis of good nutrition, and necessary for every member of the family.
Balanced diet means is the diet, which contains all the nutrients in the right proportion necessary for our body to be healthy and strong. The amount will vary according to age and other factors.
Most people in India eat an ill-balanced diet of mainly rice or chappaties and very little of other foods. To be healthy everyone needs to eat a balanced diet comprising of different nutrients in correct proportion.
We should select foodstuff from each of the following groups:
1. Stable foods: Rice, wheat, millets, starchy vegetables or fruits like banana. These foods provide calories for energyand some proteins. Remember that eating a mixture of stable foods at each meal gives better protein value.
2. Extra protein foods:
a. Pulses such as dhal and beans, nuts, and dark green leaves
b. Milk and milk products, eggs, meat and fish.
3. Protective foods, containing a lot of vitamins and minerals including: (i) vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables
i. yellow fruits , citrus fruits and others.
4. Fats and sugars for extra energy
a. A little fat or oil used in cooking or taken with each meal.
b. Jaggery, sugar and honey, for extra calories when needed. Note that dark green leafy vegetables are in the group of protective foods and in the extra protein group. They are the most valuable cheap food containing a lot of nutrients. They may even be collected in the fields in some places, or grown in kitchen gardens.
Some groups in our communities are more likely to lack a balanced diet and to suffer from malnutrition. They are called the vulnerable groups. Vulnerable groups who need special attention with regard to nutrition are as follows.
1. Infants : Birth to one year. 2. Toddlers: 1-3 years
2. Pre school children : 4 or 5 years.
3. School children and adolescents.
4. Pregnant and lactating mothers.6. Old people.
5. The sick, those need a modified diet.
Breast milk is the best food for infants. It is not sufficient after six months. From fourth month onward a child can start having porridge (conjee) made with milk, dhal rice, mashed potatoes and green leaves etc.
Children 1-3 years need about 1200 calories per day
Children 4-6 years:
Children 4-6 years need about 1500 calories per day, with requirements as follows.
1. stable foods (two) 200 gm
2. milk 200 ml
3. Egg, fish and meat -for vegetarians give extra milk and pulses. 30 gm
4. Pulses. 50 gm
5. Dark green leafy vegetables - Give vegetable salad 3 times per week. 75 gm
6. Other vegetables 50 gm
7. Fruit 50 gm
8. Sugar and jaggery 40 gm
9. Oil. 25 gm
6 a.m Milk with sugar or jaggery
8 a.m Ragi porridge or other stable, with milk and
jaggery or pulses.
10 a.m Banana or other fruit.
12 Stable food (two mixed), dark green leafy
noon vegetables and other vegetables, one egg, dhal
and curds, oil.
3 p.m Pulse or nuts, and milk.
7.30 Stable food (with family), and vegetables, fish or
School children need to have a good breakfast and to have balanced midday meal at school. In the evening they again need to have a well-balanced meal with the family.They need one or two snacks during the day. If a midday meal is not provided at school, the child should be given a packed meal to take to school. A child who is hungry will not be able to learn.
A balanced Midday school meal: Requirements per day for a child
Cereal such as rice or wheat : 75 gm
Pulses such as dhal, or beans : 30 gm
Dark green leafy vegetables : 30 gm
Other vegetables Oil : 8 gm 30 gm
A packed meal from home could include chappaties with thick dhal, boiled beans or groundnut, butter, and one fresh fruit.
If a pregnant or lactating woman is pure vegetarian or cannot afford to have milk, she should be encouraged to
Increase the pulses in her diet.
Eat a handful of groundnuts daily.
Drink milk made from ragi, malt, groundnuts or soybeans.
Old people need less calories than others, and eat only a small amount at a time. The diet should include some protein and protective foods every day.
Educate the community about balanced diet especially for vulnerable groups (Mothers and children) as follows:
1. If children under 5 years do not have a balanced diet they easily get sick and may die or grow up weak in body and mind.
2. If a pregnant woman does not have a balanced diet (enough of the right kinds of foods every day) her baby when born is likely to be small and weak. Also she will not have sufficient breast milk.
3. Pregnant and nursing woman need to eat more than they eat normally, with extra protein and protective foods for health of themselves and the babies they are nourishing.
4. The nursing mother should continue to have extra nutritious foods, and include green and yellow vegetables daily. She also needs to drink more including milk or milk substitutes.
5. Breast milk is the ideal food for babies, and should be continued as long as possible. Other foods need to be given in addition from the 4th month.
6. Make sure that all infants receive a balanced diet that with something from each of the food groups. At one year a child should be having all kinds of solid food plus breastfeeding or about four cups of milk.
7. Children need to have regular balanced meals, and should not be made to wait long or to skip meals. They need three good meals a day and extra snacks. For snacks give fruits, pulses and nuts.
8. Foods given to children should be
Well prepared in clean conditions.
Not highly spiced, nor with a lot of sugar.
Well-cooked, and served fresh.
9. Rapidly growing school children need a good balanced diet with extra body-building and protective foods.
Adolescents need plenty of energy foods in addition to foods containing other nutrients. Adolescent girls need extra dark green leafy vegetables for iron to make hemoglobin.
Dietary needs of patients:
When a person has some health problem, diet is often more important than medicine. When a person is ill and if the correct diet is given, he or she will recover quickly. If sickness is prolonged (chronic illness), diet is important in keeping up the strength.
The nurse should know what to advise about modified diets for persons who are sick and those with special health problems. In the home, the family will need the nurse' s help in the selection and preparation of foods for persons with special dietary needs.