Point to be Considered in Planning a Diet

For planning the menu following points should be considered:

  • For all the nutrients minimum RDA must be met. For energy, the total calories can be RDA +/- 50.
  • Energy derived from cereals should not be more than 75 percent.
  • It is better to include two cereals in a meal like rice and wheat or millets and rice.
  • Whole grain cereals, brown rice, hand pounded rice, unpolished or parboiled rice or malted grains give higher nutritive value and higher phytochemical value.
  • Flour should not be sieved for chapati as it reduces bran content.
  • Refined cereals like maida, should be taken in minimum quantity.
  • To improve the cereals and pulse protein quality, a minimum ratio of cereal protein to pulse protein should be 4:1. In terms of grains, cereals and pulses should be in the proportion of 8:1
  • Two to three serving of pulses should be taken everyday. Germinated pulses are more nutritious.
  • One egg weighs around 40 g. This can be served along with cereal or pulses to improve the quality of protein. Instead, one serving of poultry can also be included in the diet. Red meat should be taken in minimum quantity.
  • A minimum quantity of 500 ml milk/day should be included. Two glasses of milk or curd should be included in a balanced diet. Curd provides probiotics. Low-fat milk should be preferred.
  • Foods rich in fiber should be included in the diet.
  • Every meal should contain at least one medium size fruit. It is better to serve the fruit as such. Taking juice out of it causes loss of vitamin C and fiber. Fruit should never be cooked.
  • Fish, preferably oily fish, should be included in the diet at least twice a week to meet the requirement of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • The inclusion of salads or raita not only help in meeting the vitamin requirements but the meals would be attractive and have high satiety value due to fiber content.
  • Green leafy vegetables should be taken a minimum of one serving per day. Greens can be added to cereal or dal preparations. Chutneys, raita, and salad can also be made with greens.
  • Five serving of colorful fruits and vegetables should be included in a day ‘s diet to meet the antioxidant requirement.
  • Energy derived from fats or oils should be 15-20 percent of total calories and 5 percent from sugar and jaggery.
  • It is better to use more than one type of oil. Combination of oils gives proper balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
  • Diet should be low in fat, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. Generally, bakery products are rich in fat, saturated fat and trans fat.
  • Fried food cannot be planned if oil allowance is less or in low calories diets. To increase the calories the content of protein and carbohydrate should be increased along with fat.
  • Variety of foods should be used in the menu. No single food has all the nutrients.
  • Salt and Sugar should be used in moderation.
  • Preferably each meal should consist of all the four food groups.
  • Usually, the number of meals is four and for very young children and patients, the number of meal can be more.
  • Each meal should meet one-third of total calories and protein requirements.
  • For quick calculations, food exchange list can be used.
  • If possible, meals should be planned at a time for several days.
  • Water should be taken in adequate quantities.
  • Use processed and ready to eat foods judiciously. Processed foods contain a variety of food additives. Children and patients, whose nutritional requirements are high, supplementary foods can be given.

Reference: Exercise Physiology, Fitness, and Sport Nutrition

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