We have all seen by now the danger of being overweight. Obesity cause high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes & many other health related problems which can be fatal in the long run. Being underweight on the other hand is another health hazard, causing fatigue, predisposition to disease, infection, hair & skin problems.
How do you strike a balance ?
Regardless of our body weight, we need to eat certain foods in specific proportions every day.
The various foods can be divided seven groups.
- The first group consist of milk & its products. An adult requires 2 to 3 servings of milk or milk products everyday & a child need to have a minimum 4 servings of milk daily. Besides providing good quality protein, milk also gives us calcium (for the bones & teeth) & vitamin B complex.
- The second group contains fats & oils (like butter, cream, vanaspati, ghee). The minimum daily fat/oil intake should be 3 teaspoons. This is chiefly the energy providing group.
- The third group is that of cereals. These are valuable for protein, Iron, vitamin B complex & calories. They provide roughage that allows easy bowel movement & keeps the digestive system in order. Items include various types of bread, chapattis, idli's, dosa, macaroni, noodles, rice etc. any of these should be taken in every major meal i.e 3 servings per day.
- The fourth group is that of proteins (body building) it contains lean meat, fish, chicken for non-vegetarians & nuts, dals & beans for vegetarians. One to two servings from this group is a must in our daily routine.
- The fifth group is a provider of vitamin A (for eyes) & iron (blood formation). This includes all the green leafy vegetables & other vegetables like spinach, methi, collards, iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, kale, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, broccoli, tomatoes, red bell peppers, etc. Besides maintaining the health of eyes & the skin, these vegetables have roughage enough for regular elimination (bowel) habits. 1 or more servings of this group are essential in our daily routine.
- The sixth group contains all the remaining vegetables & fruits. This vegetables & fruits include apple, strawberries, kiwi, avocado, pineapple, beetroot, papaya, yellow peppers, etc. One or more servings of this group is also essential in our daily routine. This group is a provider of all the vitamins & minerals that are essential for the normal functioning of our body system, which in turn is responsible for the healthy glow on our face, shine in our eyes & the health of our hair.
- The last group is an important group, since it provides us with vitamin C. This vitamin is necessary for the health of our gums & blood vessels. It also protects us from contracting any kind of infections, especially cold & cough. Vitamin C sources are all citrus fruits like oranges, & lemons, tomatoes, amla, grape fruit, brussel sprouts, black currants, melons & cauliflower. Even green chillies & capsicum are rich in vitamin C. one serving should be included in daily routine.
Sugar is not mentioned in the seven groups since it provides only empty calories & does not come under the category of the essential food items. Out of the above, there is no group which provides all the essentials, that is why a serving of every group is necessary in our daily routine to maintain a balance among all the nutrients. So keeping the various food groups in mind, it becomes simple to have a balanced diet.