People’s eating habits vary enormously and dietitians must respect dietary freedom and diversity when making recommendations. Dietary diversity is one of our culture’s strengths and sources of pleasure. There are many ways to eat to be healthy. The best way to achieve balanced diet is to plan meals in relation to other food for the whole day, It is advisable to eat small regular meals rather than one large meal.
- Meeting nutritional requirements: A good menu is one which will not only provide adequate calories, fat and proteins but also minerals, vitamins essential for the physical well-being of each member of family. In a balanced diet, the ratio of energy distribution from carbohydrate, protein, and fat would be 7:1:2 respectively. The diet should contain “Basic four food groups’.
- Meal pattern must fulfill family needs: Meal pattern varies with age, occupation and life stage of the family members. A family meal should cater to the need of the different members. A growing adolescent boy may need a variety of food to satisfy the appetite. Whereas a young child may require a soft and bland diet. A heavy workers requires more calories and B vitamins than other members of the family. The family meal must offer children enough fat and flexibility in caloric density so that their energy needs are met.
- Meal Planning should save time and energy: Planning meal should be done in such a way, that the recipes should be simple and nutritious. Labour and time-saving devices can be used. Using convenience foods save time and energy.
- Meal planning should consider economic constraints: Meals planned that are not within budget, cannot be put into practice. The cost of meals can be reduced by bulk purchasing and using seasonal fruits and vegetables.
- Meal plan should give maximum nutrients: Losses of nutrients during processing and cooking should be minimized. Sprouted grams, malted cereals, and fermented foods enhance the nutritive value. Good quality protein should be distributed in all meals. Pressure cooking conserves the nutrients.
- Meal planning considers individual likes and dislikes: The meal plan should not only meet RDA but also individual preferences, like vegetarian or non-vegetarian preferences. If a person does not like particulars greens, it can be tried in a different form or substituted by some other equally nourishing food. Food habits and dietary pattern should also be considered. Religion, traditions, and customs of the individual should be considered in planning the menu.
- Meals planned should provide variety: If meals are monotonous they are not relished. Variety can be introduced in color, texture, and taste, by using different kinds of food and cooking methods. Variety also helps in meeting the nutritional requirement.
- Meals should give satiety: Each meal should have some amount of protein, fat, and fiber throughout the world is due to the availability of different kinds of foods in those regions. Locally grown foods are less expensive, fresh and nutritious.
- Meals should include locally available foods: The wide variety of dietary patterns throughout the world is due to the availability of different kinds of foods in those regions. Locally grown foods are less expensive, fresh and nutritious.
- Meals should include health foods: Ideal diets should provide besides nutrients those bioactive chemicals which can help to prevent and retard disease process.
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