Food Needs of Different Groups of People
Food Needs of Different Groups of People
Healthy eating requires a basic understanding of nutrition and in particular of your own body's nutritional needs at different stages of life. It requires forethought, careful meal planning, and coordination.
The first step in sketching a balanced family menu is to assess your family's individual and group needs. Working from the dietary guidelines, you can establish a nutritional and caloric base for every member of the family.
1. Infants. An infant is a child not over 2 years of age. A newborn is considered well-nourished if he/she weights 2.7-3.2 kg. (6-7 lbs) and measures 48-50 cm. (19-20 inches) in length.
The food needs of infants and preschool children should be attended to first before serving other family members. Mothers should ensure that the food served to these children are nutritionally adequate. This is possible with a balanced daily diet. With sufficient intake of water and essential nutrients like carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals this group can have a healthier and brighter future.
2. Preschoolers. Children from two to six years old need adequate foods to grow and build their bodies, give them energy for play, and help them fight common infections. Introducing the child at an early age to good nutrition will help shape his food habits in later years. Preschoolers should be encouraged to eat a variety of nutritious foods for their physical and mental well-being.
Among the foods that should be served daily are: milk, fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and other body-building foods; rice, bread, butter, and other energy-giving foods; green, leafy, and yellow vegetables, fruits such as bananas, papaya, and other regulating foods.
3. Schoolers. The same basic foods and essential nutrients are required at this stage, except that they should be increased in quantity. Growth increases gradually when children are from 7 to 12 years old. However, because children are very active at home and in school, an increase in the recommended amounts for most nutrients is necessary. Good nutrition helps children do better at home and in school. A good breakfast is therefore essential because hungry children are weak, listless, and less attentive in class. If children eat lunch in school, packed lunch supplies of at least one-third of their daily food needs must be prepared.
4. Adolescents. Adolescence is a period of rapid growth, mental changes, and emotional development. This is the stage when more body-building and energy foods are needed. Teenagers should get adequate amounts from the basic food groups but more foods rich in protein, starch and carbohydrates, iron, and Vitamin C should be included in their diet. Even snacks should be nutritious. Adolescents who are not properly directed towards nutritious foods tend to buy junk foods which provide empty calories.
5. Adults. Adults need to be independent in terms of their food choices. At this stage, people have a tendency to either overeat or undereat. However, good nutrition and a balanced diet should be observed to prevent diseases caused by improper eating practices.
Aside from the groups discussed, there is the so-called vulnerable group. This group includes pregnant women and nursing mothers.
Pregnant women. The nutritional requirement of pregnant women is high because of the rapid build-up of activities of the fetus in the womb. The health of the fetus is highly dependent on the mother's health and what she eats. It is important to include the following food in their daily diet to be assured of a normal and healthy baby.
a. Foods rich in iron like pork or chicken liver, heart, kidney, lean meat, or egg yolk dried beans and leafy greens and yellow vegetables.
b. Vitamin C-rich fruits such as: pomelos, guavas, mangoes, etc.
c. More body-building foods like fish, meat, poultry, milk, dried beans and eggs.
Nursing mothers. A lactating mother has higher nutritional demands than when she was pregnant because she has to produce milk, the nutrient content of which depends on the adequacy of her diet. For a nursing mother to be assured of continued health throughout lactation, she needs to follow a modified diet that is an expansion of the varied diet recommended during pregnancy. A lactating mother's daily diet includes the following:
a. Increased intake of fish, meat, poultry, dried beans and other building foods
b. A generous amount of liquid such as: soup, broth, juices and daily intake of milk and calcium.
c. Sufficient amounts of leafy green and yellow vegetables, vitamin-rich fruits and other fruits and vegetables.
d. Energy-rich foods such as rice, cereals, root crops, and tubers, fats and sugar.