|A balanced diet may be defined as one which contains the various groups of food stuffs such as energy yielding foods, body building foods and protective foods in the correct proportions so that an individual is assured of obtaining the minimum requirements of all nutrients.
· The components of a balanced diet will differ according to age, sex, physical activity, economic status and the physiological state viz., pregnancy, lactation etc.,
· In addition a balanced diet should also provide biochemical compounds such as dietary fiber, antioxidants and nutraceuticals which have positive health benefits.
· Balanced diets at high cost: such diets will include liberal amounts of protective and protein-rich foods such as milk, eggs, meat, fish, fruits and moderate quantities of cereals, pulses, nuts and fats.
· Balanced diets at moderate cost: These diets will include moderate amounts of protective and protein-rich foods such as milk, eggs, meat, fish, fruits and fats and liberal amounts cereal, pulses, nuts and green leafy vegetables.
· Balanced diets at low cost: These diets will include minimal amounts of protective and protein-rich foods such as milk, eggs, meat, fish fruits, nuts and fats and liberal amounts of cereals, pulses and green leafy vegetables.
|Nutritional classification of foods|
|The different groups of foods may be broadly classified under three heads from the nutritional point of view.
|Five Food Group Plan|
|The Nutrition Expert Group of Indian Council of Medical Research, India suggested a five group plan and the nutrients supplied by each food group are given in table.
Table. Five Food Groups and nutrients in them (Nutrition Expert Group, I.C.M.R.)
The five food group system can be used by health professionals for the following purposes:
· Tool for nutritional assessment and screening: A brief dietary history system can disclose inadequacies of nutrients from any of the above group. The information can be the first clue for the possibility that the subject may be at risk of developing nutritional deficiency.
· Tool for nutritional counseling: The dietary history based on the five food group system allows a health team to counsel or teach a patient about nutrition.
· Explaining therapeutic diets to the patient: Therapeutic diets are scientifically based on nutrient composition and groups which can be used in menu planning.
· Food labeling and surveillance system: Food groups can be used for food labeling and for nutrition surveillance system.