Family Meal Management
In recent times, food has emerged as a source of comfort and a potential threat to health. It reflects cultural heritage and gives a feeling of security and pleasure. Healthy food intake is an important part of life. Hence, it is very essential to gain knowledge about food, its planning, preparation and service. Creative meal management for people at different age groups can add pleasure and satisfaction to their lives and ensure healthy living.
A balanced diet is one which provides all the nutrients in required amounts and proper proportions so that the need for calories, proteins, minerals, vitamins and other nutrients are adequately met. It can be easily achieved through a blend of four basic food groups. The nutrient require-ments vary with age, gender, physiologi-cal status and physical activity. A balanced diet provides (i) 50-60% of total calories from carbohydrates, (ii) about 10-15% from proteins (iii) and 20-30% from both visible and invisible fat. In addition, a balanced diet should provide other non-nutrients such as dietary fiber, antioxi-dants and phytochemicals.
The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) presented are in estimates of nu-trients to be consumed daily to ensure that the requirements of all individu-als in a given population are met. The recommended levels depend upon the bio availability of nutrients from a given diet. The term bio availability indicates what is absorbed and utilised by the body. In ad-dition RDA includes a margin of safety, to cover variation between individuals, die-tary traditions and practices. The RDAs are suggested for all age groups such as infants, pre-schoolers, children, adoles-cents, pregnant women, lactating mothers and adult men and women taking into ac-count their physical activity. The RDA of an individual depends upon various fac-tors which are as follows:
Age:Adults require more total calories than a child, whereas a growing child requires more calories per kg of body weight than an adult.
Sex:Males with high Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) require more calories than females.
Activity:The type of activity also determines the energy requirements . T h e activities are classified as sedentary, moderate and heavy based on the occupation of an individual as given in the table 1 below
Physiological stress: Nutrient requirements are increased in conditions of physiological stress such as pregnancy and lactation.
Menu planning is the process of planning and scheduling intake of meals for general or specific individual requirements. The four food groups suggested by ICMR given in unit-III (Food Science), permits an indi-vidual to plan a menu to achieve nutrient intake as specified by recommended die-tary allowances. There are certain princi-ples in planning menus. They are:
· A good menu plan should meet the nu-tritional requirements of each member of the family.
· Meal pattern must fulfill family needs.
· Meal planning should save time and energy.
· Meal planning should satisfy the bud-get of the family.
· Meal plan should give maximum nutrients.
· The meal planned should consider in-dividual likes and dislikes.
· Planned meals should provide variety.
· Meals should give satiety.
· Menus should include available foods.
There are three steps involved in planning a menu
To plan a balanced diet the first step is to know the recommended dietary allow-ances for different age groups.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance for Indians ICMR (2010) is given in the Table 2.
Food list is the list of quantities of various food groups to be included in the diet so that it is balanced and can meet the RDA. This can be done by:
· Selecting food from all the four food groups.
· Deciding the quantities of the selected as multiples of portion sizes.
Food list can be prepared either by using ICMR tables or exchange lists.
To make menu planning more con-venient ICMR has suggested the portion size and balanced diets for adults and for different age groups. The portion sizes are given in terms of raw food.
The Exchange Lists are the basis of a meal planning. Food exchange lists are groups of measured foods of the same calorific value and similar protein, fat and carbohydrate content. All foods of exchange lists make a specific contribution to a good diet. Food exchange lists help in manipulation of protein, calories and other nutrients.
The foods that are listed are converted into recipes and distributed in various meals like breakfast, lunch and dinner. My Plate helps individuals to make better food choices and eat healthfully. It illus-trates the food groups using a familiar mealtime visual.