Nutrition and health are interconnected. It is essential to have a basic know-how about the different nutrients present in the food, their importance and functions and the percentage in which they are required by the body. We have to understand the difference between a drug and a poison. Taking one nutrient in higher concentration might lead to the evolution of medical complications in the body.
Therefore, it is imperative to have a balanced diet. A balanced diet is the kind of diet containing foods with all essential nutrients in accordance with the individual’s body needs and a small percentage of nutrients are left for low dietary intake. Nutritionists have developed meal plans for people to have a healthy lifestyle. Meal Planning is basically making a plan of the meal ahead of time. Such meals contain adequate nutrients from all food groups, according to the like and dislike of the person, habits and health condition. Meal plans could be for daily routine, weekly or might extend to a month.
Aims of meal planning:
The basic aim of meal planning is to fasten and speed up the recovery of a patient. Along with this, the meals can be planned for the entire family within a budget so that time and money could be saved. With ever growing population, the supply of food has declined. Having a meal plan could help in meeting the nutrition requirements and stopping wastage of food.
Principles of meal planning
The principles that should be considered while planning a meal include
- Disease condition of the patient,
- His economic condition
- Nutritional requirements
- Budget and economic considerations
- Seasonal availability
- Age and sex
- Satiety value
- Lifestyle and allergy concerns
The meal plans classify people as per the age groups: Infants (>1 year), Toddlers (3-4 years), Preschoolers (4-6 years), School going (7-12), Adolescents (13-19), Adults, Pregnant and lactating women and Over 60 years’ age.
The food groups are as follows:
Food Group → Main Nutrients
Cereals, Grains, and products →Proteins, Carbohydrates, Fibers
Pulses and legumes→Vitamin A and B2 Energy, Folic acid
Milk and milk products→Protein, Fats, Calcium, Vitamin A and B2
Fruits and vegetables→Folic acid, Vitamin B, Fibers, Calcium
Fats and sugar fats→Energy, fats
Therapeutic diet and normal diet:
A therapeutic diet is a modified form of normal diet given to the person if he is suffering from any disease condition. All nutritional requirements are met according to the physical state of the patient. For example in the case of diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin for utilization of sugar. So taking any food with ample sugar is harmful.
Benefits associated with meal planning:
Planning a meal helps you to save time and money. Food is not your worry at the eleventh hour. Talk to a weight expert or fitness trainer, he/she will immediately tell you to shift on meal planning. Having knowledge about food is necessary as it prevents you from making bad choices about food.
Your health is your own concern, once it is lost, it won’t come back easily.
Following are given some meal planner templates that can help you making your meal planning.