A balanced diet is essential from the very early stages of life for proper growth, development and to remain active. Therefore, a balanced diet can help us to achieve optimal health throughout life. A little learning and planning can help you find a diet to fit your lifestyle, achieve your desired goals and also let you have some fun in the process!
More than half of India’s children under five years of age are malnourished, according to the National Family Health Survey-4 (NFHS-4) 2015-16.
As per the survey report, 54 percent of all deaths before the age of five years in India are related to malnutrition.
About 33 per cent of Indian men and 36 per cent of Indian women have a BMI below 18.5, indicating a high prevalence of nutritional deficiency.
The prevalence of overweight/ obesity is higher among women (10.9%) compared to men (7.8%) in rural areas.
Overall, one in every two children under five years is stunted (low height for age). In addition, nearly 30 percent are underweight (low weight for age).
Dietary guidelines for a balanced diet
- Eat a variety of foods to ensure a balanced diet food.
- Ensure that your infant is exclusively breastfed for the first six months.
- Feed home based semi-solid foods to the infant after six months.
- Ensure adequate and appropriate diets for children and adolescents, both in health and sickness.
- Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits.
- Ensure moderate use of edible oils and animal foods and decreased use of ghee/ butter/ vanaspati.
- Avoid overeating to prevent obesity.
- Exercise regularly and be physically active to maintain ideal body weight.
- Restrict salt intake to a minimum.
- Ensure the use of safe and clean foods.
- Adopt the right pre-cooking processes and appropriate cooking methods.
- Drink plenty of water and take beverages in moderation.
- Minimize the use of processed foods rich in salt, sugar and fats
Why do we need nutritionally adequate food?
A balanced diet is one that contains all the necessary nutrients to keep you healthy. The recommended nutrient intake is the amount of each nutrient needed to meet your daily requirements. This will vary depending on factors such as age, sex, weight and activity levels.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that adults should aim to eat a wide variety of foods from the five main food groups. These are:
• Vegetables and legumes/beans (at least 2 serves per day)
• Fruit (at least 2 serves per day)
• Grain (at least 6 serves per day)
• Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives (2-3 serves per day)
• Lean meat, poultry, fish or egg (2-3 serves per day).
The 7 major nutrients needed by our body are known as macronutrients because they are needed in relatively large quantities. These nutrients must be obtained through a judicious choice and combination of a variety of foods from different food groups. The 7 major types of nutrients needed by our body are:
Proteins – Builds & repairs body tissue
Carbohydrates – Provides energy to fuel the body’s systems
Fats – Provides energy to fuel the body’s systems
Fiber – Helps maintain a healthy digestive system, helps prevent constipation & diarrhea
Water – Helps regulate body temperature & lubricates joints, among other things best water purification.