It was mentioned that the needs of individuals family members must be considered in estimating the food needs of the family. As the family consists of various age groups in various physiological states, let us consider the needs of each stage of life, starting with adulthood.
Adulthood represents the steady state in life, when a person would have completed his/her growth in terms of body size. The nutritional needs are for maintenance of body functions. The energy needs
in adulthood are mainly to sustain body functions and activity. The protein requirement is to be made good the wear and tear and the losses, which occur as a result of normal life processes. Thus adult
stage is taken as a norm and requirements in other stages are discussed in relation to it.
Adulthood also represents the productive stage of life. Therefore, it is important that the nutritional needs of an adult be met adequately, so as to keep up vitality and a positive attitude in life, which are essential for optimum productivity.
Changing Food Habits: Each of us have foods, which are our favorites. These are served on special occasions such as birthday, parties or other celebrations. Though one should take the likes and
dislikes of family members into account in meal planning, we should not allow our preferences to rule our diets. Allowing people to develop a restricted food pattern may lead to a poorly balanced diet and
could be a social disadvantage. Trying to like new foods enlarges one’s food enjoyment, social experience as well as diet.
Food Selection: The selection of foods is made according to the daily food guide. The amounts of foods included from the various groups will depend on the body size and activity of the individual.
Thus a labourer, who is very active may need more cereals and oils and fat to meet his/her energy needs as compared to a sedentary person, who is involved in desk work. The foods selected need to be
used in the day’s meals, which fit into the daily schedule of the person.
Nutrition During Pregnancy and Lactation
Pregnancy and lactation are two stages of life when an adult women’s needs are increased. She has the responsibility of supporting the growth of the foetus internally during the nine months of pregnancy and later externally by nursing the infant. Since the growth needs at the commencement of life are crucial, good nutrition is a must for the expectant as well as nursing mother. A number of tissues are formed to protect and sustain the foetus. During pregnancy the mother has to meet her own needs and the needs of the growing foetus. There is additional need for the growth of other related tissues and to build-up fat stores to cushion the foetus, prior to birth, and to supply part of the energy needed for milk formation during lactation. Thus the need for all nutrients involved in tissue synthesis is increased during pregnancy.
Adolescent mothers, who have not completed their own growth, may need additional foods to meet their own growth requirements. If these are not met, their health may be affected, which may indirectly affect the welfare of the foetus. If the mother’s diet has been adequate before pregnancy, she may be in a better position to meet the demands of pregnancy.
No mother would like to injure the health of her baby through poor food habits. However, nutritional studies have shown that many women attend to the needs of other family members at the expense of
their own needs. The situation does not change during pregnancy. Thus pregnant women are often the
most poorly fed members of the family. In her effort to take care of others, she does not take time to
sit down and eat. When she is very tired she is unable to eat. If the food supply is limited, she is the worst affected, as she feeds all other members and eats what is left. It is important that the family
should plan the arrival of the baby so that the pregnant mother does not suffer from lack of food both in terms of amount and kind. The expectant father must try to ensure that the expectant mother gets
the right amounts and kinds of foods, so that the health of the foetus does not suffer.
Additional protein is necessary for growth of the foetus, new maternal tissues and to prepare the mother for lactation.
The protein should be of good quality, e.g., milk, eggs, fish, meat, etc. Good quality may be achieved by combining sources of protein in the diet. Some of it could be supplied by milk and milk products.
The need for minerals, which form a part of body structure is increased with pregnancy. Calcium and phosphorus are needed for formation of bones and teeth. The teeth formation starts early in
prenatal life, so it is important that the mother gets sufficient calcium from the beginning of pregnancy.
Iron is needed for the synthesis of additional volume of blood and other tissues formed during development of the foetus. The store of iron is built in prenatal period, because milk, the infant’s main
food during first three to four months after birth, is deficient in iron. It is now a common practice for the doctor to give expectant mothers a prescription for an iron salt. Though this is true, foods rich in
iron should be emphasised in the diet. The mother will need to continue to eat a diet high in iron after delivery also, to make up for some of the losses at the time of childbirth. A number of foods traditionally prepared for feeding a nursing mother in the early part of lactation are rich in iron.
Iodine: There is an additional need for iodine at this stage in life. If mother’s iodine intake is low, the infant may suffer from cretenism, a disease which is characterised by retarded physical and mental development. The iodine deficiency disease in adults is simple goitre.
In areas where the soil and water are deficient in iodine, the use of iodised salt is recommended.
Craving for Certain Foods: This may be due to psychological need for attention. It may be satisfied, if these do not conflict with the meeting of nutritional needs. Nausea and vomiting may be common in early part of the pregnancy. A high carbohydrate diet,
consisting of bland preparations, given as small frequent feedings, is likely to be beneficial. It is advisable to avoid strong flavours, e.g., strong coffee or tea, spicy and oily foods.
Constipation: Constipation is one of the complaints in pregnancy, because the enlarged uterus may press against the intestines and prevent normal movement. There is a tendency to decrease or
minimise physical activity. This is not advisable, as exercise not only helps elimination but also keeps the body fit. Generally, some of the aids to regular elimination, which help in all stages of life, may be
practised everyday to maintain good health in pregnancy. These are:
1. Drink more water. A glass or two taken before breakfast are often helpful. Some people find warm water more helpful than cold.
2. Eat the right foods. Include plenty of vegetables and fruits, Especially green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, raw salads, whole-grain preparations.
3. Eat at regular hours. Eat slowly.
4. Take some exercise daily to help movement, improve breathing and help the body to relax. A number of exercises can be performed regularly. Walking is a good and easy exercise.
5. Develop regular toilet habit. Early in the morning or, after the first cup of tea is a good time
Children can share family meals, by the time, they are two years old. A few alternatives may be needed, when the family makes highly spiced food. It is advisable to keep foods, which are too fatty or too sweet out of the child’s menu. Such foods may fill his limited space, without providing the nutrients needed. The child may be encouraged to eat sweets towards the end of the meal, so that he/she may not eat these to the exclusion of other foods.
It is good to give appetising beverages such as fruit juices and milk to the children. It is good to serve part of his milk needs in the form of soups, Fruits are ideal snacks.
Crisp crackers or toast are liked and the child can eat these without help, which helps him to feel independent.
Meal Planning for School Children and Adolescents
Once the child starts going to school, the attention of the parents is diverted to his/her school work and food becomes a secondary matter. As a result the nutritional needs of the child of school age are often overlooked. If the child was well-nourished as he entered school, the effect of neglect during school years does not show up for some time.
The nutritional needs do not change very much during school years except for a gradual increase in food intake to meet the needs of the growing body. But going to school does mean that the meals and
activities have to be planned to fit in the school schedule. It is necessary to eat one meal away from home, wich may be a box lunch or snacks bought at school.
Food Needs of the School Child — 6–12 Years Old
At this stage it is important to ensure that each meal carries sufficient amounts of protein, minerals and vitamins. The food needs are increased in keeping with the child’s growth rate and activity. The
kinds of food needed are the same as those for younger children but the amounts needed are increased.
The children of this age can take most of the foods served in the family meals, except highly spiced or fried foods, strong tea and coffee. The child can take all fruits at this age, including those which have seeds as guavas and grapes which were not suitable at a younger age.
Nutrition for Middle Age Adults (40 – 60 yrs.)
Often the middle years are a stage of stability in life. Normally the person is efficient in one’s profession, income is steady, the physical demands of caring for children are over. The basal metabolic
rate starts decreasing from 30 years of age.
Thus the energy need decreases, but the need for other nutrients (proteins, minerals and vitamins) do not decrease.
Nutrition for Senior Citizen (60 + years)
The rate of aging varies fronm one person to another. There are several factors which affect the aging, which include heredity, the psycho-social and nutritional background and activity pattern. Due
to these variations, no two people age in a similar manner.
One reassuring observation is that people, who keep physically and mentally active have been
reported to retain their sense of smell and taste even in their eighties. Those who practise weight-lifting are able to retain their lean muscle mass and the density of their bones. If teeth are lost, well-fitting
dentures permit enjoyment of foods of varying texture. Use of hearing aid helps those with hearing defects to maintain social contact. Lens implants after cataract surgery permit reading and free movement
thus ensuring the ability to pursue intellectual interests.
Thus more senior citizens are found to be travelling and participating in social and community activities than they did before the development of technologies mentioned above.
Watch the video below to learn more about preparing and serving meals for a family