For the sake of better understanding, ICMR (Indian Council
for Medical Research) has divided food into five groups. This helps plan your meals in a
way that body's daily needs are met. For details Food Pyramid
and products: Rice, wheat, Ragi,
Bajra, Maize, Jowar,
Barley, rice flakes
Protein, Invisible fat, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Folic acid, Iron,
legumes: Bengal gram, Black gram,
Red gram, Lentil
(whole as well as dhals), cowpea, Peas, Rajmah, Soyabeans, Beans
Protein, Invisible fat, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2 Folic acid, Calcium,
Milk and Meat
Products: Milk, Curd, Skimmed Milk, Cheese,Chicken,
Liver, Fish, Egg, Meat
- Protein, Fat, Vitamin B2, Calcium
- Protein, fat, Vitamin B2
- Fruits: Mango, Guava, Tomato, Papaya, Orange, Sweet Lime, Water Melon.
- Vegetables: (green Leafy)
- Amaranth, Spinach, Gogu, Drumstick leaves,
- Coriander leaves, Fenugreek leaves.
- Other vegetables: Carrots, Brinjal, Ladies fingers, Capsicum, Beans, Onions,
- Carotenoids, vitamin C, Invisble fat, Vitamin B2 ,
- Folic acid, Iron, Fibre
- Vitamin B2, Folic acid, Calcium, Iron, Fibre, Carotenoids
- Carotenoids, Folic acid, calcium Fibre.
- Fats: Butter, Ghee Hydrogenated fat, Cooking oils like groundnut, Mustard,
- Sugar, Jaggery
- Energy, Fat, Essential Fatty acids.
Few tips for planning a
nutritive & palatable menu for your loved ones:
- It is better to include two cereals in one meal like rice and wheat.
- Flour should not be sieved for chapati as it will reduce bran content.
- One serving of vegetable is 75 g. Green leafy vegetable can be taken more than one
serving if fruit is not included in the diet.
- It is better to serve the fruit raw without much cooking or taking juice out of it.
Everyday diet should contain at least one medium size fruit.
- There should be minimum milk of 100 ml/day. One to two glasses of milk or curd should
included in balanced diet.
- 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/fish can also be included in 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 the fibre content.
- One third of nutritional requirement at least calories and protein should be met
by lunch and dinner.
- Usually the number of meals would be four and for very young children and diseased,
number of meals can be more.
- Ideally each meal should consist of all the five groups.
Boiled egg, egg
Rich in vitamin
A and good quality protein
mint chutney, with bread/ chapati
Not only rich
in beta carotene but also rich in other nutrients
carrot salad, carrot kheer. Carrot juice
Rich in beta
Rich in beta
tomato juice, mango juice
Rich in beta
carotene and Vitamin C
Rich in beta
carotene and protein
Feeding School Children :
Nutrition for your school going child is an important issue
as there is an established relationship between sound nutrition and learning. At this time
your child is more interested and participates in a host of other activities, which
compete with meal times. Breakfast is particularly important for a school child. It is the
first meal your child takes after a virtual fast of 6-8 hours and prepares a child for
problem solving and better memory spans in the learning period at school. In certain
schools, the school lunch program provides a nourishing noon meal for many children who
would not otherwise have one.
Tips for planning menus for school going children :
- Daily meals should meet your child's increasing needs due to activity, growth and
special requirements because of sickness or injury.
- By nature children are restless and do not like/have much time at the table eating. In
the morning, they are rushed so as not to miss the school bus. You have to plan dishes
that are quick to eat and nutritious.
- Children also tend to be bored with foods easily. So menus need to provide variety in
color, texture, taste and flavor.
- You must also keep in mind the climatic conditions. During summer extra liquids and
salts are to be given to replenish extra loss in sweat.
- Children have varying appetites and often prefer snacky meals at frequent intervals to a
few large ones. Keep thinking of newer, nutritious snacks for your child.
- A child should be encouraged to eat with the rest of the family when he is ready to take
the family meals. Such interactions between family members are a part of normal
- If your child does not like salads, they can be incorporated, in sandwiches.
Children at this age need usually four to five meals. The
child should be encouraged to get up about half an hour before breakfast. About twenty
minutes may be needed for the meal. When the child goes to school, its a good idea
to allow about half an hour between breakfast and school time for the child to get ready.
Lunchtime should be midway between breakfast and dinner. Children need a mid-morning as
well as a mid afternoon snack. A number of foods are normally available, these includes
fruits such as guavas, bananas, amla, bor, etc., roasted legumes such as groundnuts,
chanas etc. these are available near school in addition to the snacks sold in the school
canteen. If well chosen, these snacks can provide important nutrients in addition to
calories. If the children buy candy, peppermint, soft drinks, ice fruit, they get mainly
calories only. These foods reduce or dull the appetite, without meeting the bodys
need. Therefore, these foods are said to provide only "empty calories"
Breakfast - the Neglected
With the need to adjust to the school time, the first meal
is either scanty or omitted entirely. This is a hazard from the nutritional point of view.
For a missed meal is hard to make up. There are many reasons why a child does not have a
good breakfast. The breakfast may not be ready in time. If the child does not go to bed in
time, it is difficult for him to get up early enough to find time to get ready for school
and eat a good breakfast. The child`s ability to attend classes and learn his lessons at
school may be affected, if he is hungry during school hour, due to a pure breakfast.
Breakfast can be a very enjoyable and varied meal. Some of
the traditional breakfasts from some regions are given below :
Paratha and lassi
Shira and milk, Dahi-pohe,
Idli Chutney and coffee,
Dosa chutney and coffee, milk beverage
Ragi preparation and
in all regions
Bread and Butter,
cornflakes, egg, fruit, milk, tea/coffee
A good breakfast should include some cereal or cereal dal
preparation, some milk and fruit. However, if the fruit is preferred at some other time in
the day, it may be omitted from the breakfast.
Childs likes and dislikes need to be considered while
feeding. A child, who does not eat well, may be underweight due to Malnutrition.
Malnutrition is not only due to poverty. Ignorance and/or fixed ideas on the part of young
parents may lead to malnutrition, even in affluent families. Here is a checklist if your
child is underweight.
- Does he miss breakfast or not take proper lunch, in a hurry to go to school?
- Is he too tired after school activities and sleeps off without taking proper night
- Does he have any adjustment problems at school or emotional problems with siblings that
may have lead to reduced consumption of food.
- Can you find any psychological factors contributing to poor motivation to eat.
Children may not relish vegetables particularly, green
leafy ones and fruits. You should make an effort to motivate the child to eat by serving
in different, attractive forms. Consumption of less quantity of food can lead to
constipation. Early morning hurry to go to school and lack of sleep and activity can also
lead to constipation.
Consumption of sticky sweets can result in dental caries.
Brushing the teeth before going to bed and after a meal should become a habit in children.
Children should be encouraged to eat hard raw crisp foods.
Packed lunches is a necessity for school going children if
the school is away from home or the lunch period is too short for them to go home. The
packed lunch is a lunch that is packed in a tiffin box to be eaten by the child while away
from home. It can be with one compartment or two or sometimes having more than 3
Points to be considered in planning a packed lunch:
- The meal should meet one third of the daily caloric and protein requirement of your
- As far as possible try and include all 5 food groups in the lunch, though the number of
dishes may be less.
- Inclusion of one serving of green leafy vegetables would take care of one-third of the
requirement of many vitamins and minerals.
- Use good quality protein like milk or milk product like curd or paneer. Combine
vegetable proteins like cereals and pulses for better utilisation. Eggs improve the
quality of protein besides meeting many protective nutrient needs.
- To make the food appetising , whole fruit or butter milk in a bottle or chips in a
polythene bag can be taken.
- Provide variety. Avoid packing same food on successive days. Pack something other than
what you served for breakfast.
- Take care of food consistency. Too watery things may leak and too dry may not be
appetizing to the child. Chapathis can be covered in cloth to retain moisture. Curd rice
should be made with cold rice. Hot rice makes the water to separate from the curd.
Suggested packed lunches:
- Vegetable pulao, boiled egg, tomato raita and orange fruit
- Fenugreek leaves stuffed chapathi, thick dal and buttermilk
- Chapathi stuffed with dal(thikada) with green leafy vegetable sag
- Chapathi, usual and carrot salad
- Cheese sandwiches or paneer sanwiches, guava
- Idli and Kurma
- Dahi bath, tomato or cucumber slices and lemon pickle
- Kichdi, buttermilk, coriander chutney
- Sambhar rice, amaranth porial, buttermilk
- Adai with drumstick leaves and coconut chutney.
While packing a lunch remember:
- Cool the preparation before packing to avoid spoilage
- Pack food preparations, which taste good even when these are cold, include some fresh
vegetable or fruit, to help moisten the mouth.
- Pack the vegetable/fruit slices in a plastic bag, to retain fresh flavour and texture
- Pack only as much as the child can eat happily, so that children learn to value food and
do not waste it.
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