Planning a Healthy Balanced Menu
What is a healthy way to eat is a big question today and there is so much of information afloat that everybody is so confused. Eating healthily is about getting a good balance of the basic essential nutrients in your daily menu plan. There are 6 nutrients that need to be focused daily.
Water, Minerals, Vitamins, Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats. Water is lost from the body daily as perspiration, urine, saliva and other enzymes. This has to be replaced daily as 2-2 ½ liters of plain water (not juices or tea, etc.). For children up to 15 years, 2 liters is a must. Thereafter 2 to 2 ½ liters is ideal for everybody. If this is not supplied you are living like a plant that has not been watered, drooping and dry. Fatigue is the main symptom. Secondly the brain does not function as well as it would if the body was fully hydrated and thirdly your mouth and body odour becomes very unpleasant.
Minerals and Vitamins do not give us any energy or calories but they are the oil in the machinery of our body. They help all the functions to run smoothly. The secret of getting these is to ensure that you consume a whole variety of food, never miss a meal and make sure that all the 3 meals are properly balanced. Anybody skipping breakfast or only eating fruit for breakfast, those skipping lunch and dinner to lose weight or only having a bowl of salad at lunch or a glass of milk for dinner will usually have a deficiency. Most often we see an iron deficiency or anaemia in such cases. (Paleness, lethargy, and loss of appetite, are some of the symptoms of anaemia). Consuming 2 fresh fruits, e.g. at 11am and 6pm, plus adding fresh salad to both lunch and dinner is a guarantee to a package of vitamins and minerals supply. All other foods lose a lot of vitamins and minerals when processed, cut and cooked.
Another major problem is calcium deficiency, which is responsible for most of the dental problems and bone problems like back ache, knee pain, neck pain, etc. which are highly prevalent today. This could be a result of all the misinformation on milk intake. All of us from birth to death require at least 2-3 glasses (500-700 ml) milk daily. Yes, the cream in the milk is fattening but it can be removed. The protein and calcium that milk provides cannot be got from any other source on a daily basis. So milk as milk/coffee/tea, curd/buttermilk must be consumed daily.
Carbohydrates are the energizer of the body. All sugars i.e. fruits, sugar, jaggery, honey and starches i.e. all vegetables and cereals - rice, wheat, ragi, corn, jowar, bajra, etc. are rich sources of energy, vitamin and minerals. Cereals must be eaten at every meal and whole cereals are more nutritious as they provide more vitamins, minerals and fiber. Any diet plan, like, high protein diet, GM diet, etc. which eliminates cereals is totally wrong and harmful to the body. Also, at least half to 1 cup cooked vegetable (sabji/porial) must be eaten daily by all ages. Fresh fruits and salads must we consumed on a daily basis.
Protein is the building block of the body and the basis for all cell formation. Children need it as they are making new cells all the time to grow. Adults need it for tissue repair and maintenance. There must be a protein food in every meal or the meal is not balanced. Milk/ curd, dhals/pulses, egg or non-veg must be there in every meal. 2-3 glasses milk/curd must be consumed daily. Also half or one cup dhal /pulse must be eaten twice daily, at lunch and dinner.
Fats, 3-4 teaspoon oil is essential for all ages daily and will come in the seasoning of food. Fats besides this must be carefully controlled. Saturated fats in cream, ghee, butter, cheese, coconut, dalda, etc. must be highly controlled. Those on a strict weight reduction diet need only two to three teaspoons of oil which may be used in the seasoning of dhals, sabji or non-veg. Eat consciously and carefully, drink plenty of water and walk 30minutes daily to be healthy, wealthy, and fit.