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Food Needs of Different Groups of People

Food Needs of Different Groups of People

Healthy eating requires a basic understanding of nutrition and in particular of your own body's nutritional needs at different stages of life. It requires forethought, careful meal planning, and coordination.

The first step in sketching a balanced family menu is to assess your family's individual and group needs. Working from the dietary guidelines, you can establish a nutritional and caloric base for every member of the family.


1. Infants. An infant is a child not over 2 years of age. A newborn is considered well-nourished if he/she weights 2.7-3.2 kg. (6-7 lbs) and measures 48-50 cm. (19-20 inches) in length.

The food needs of infants and preschool children should be attended to first before serving other family members. Mothers should ensure that the food served to these children are nutritionally adequate. This is possible with a balanced daily diet. With sufficient intake of water and essential nutrients like carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals this group can have a healthier and brighter future.

2.   Preschoolers. Children from two to six years old need adequate foods to grow and build their bodies, give them energy for play, and help them fight common infections. Introducing the child at an early age to good nutrition will help shape his food habits in later years. Preschoolers should be encouraged to eat a variety of nutritious foods for their physical and mental well-being.

Among the foods that should be served daily are: milk, fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and other body-building foods; rice, bread, butter, and other energy-giving foods; green, leafy, and yellow vegetables, fruits such as bananas, papaya, and other regulating foods.

3.   Schoolers. The same basic foods and essential nutrients are required at this stage, except that they should be increased in quantity. Growth increases gradually when children are from 7 to 12 years old. However, because children are very active at home and in school, an increase in the recommended amounts for most nutrients is necessary. Good nutrition helps children do better at home and in school. A good breakfast is therefore essential because hungry children are weak, listless, and less attentive in class. If children eat lunch in school, packed lunch supplies of at least one-third of their daily food needs must be prepared.

4.   Adolescents. Adolescence is a period of rapid growth, mental changes, and emotional development. This is the stage when more body-building and energy foods are needed. Teenagers should get adequate amounts from the basic food groups but more foods rich in protein, starch and carbohydrates, iron, and Vitamin C should be included in their diet. Even snacks should be nutritious. Adolescents who are not properly directed towards nutritious foods tend to buy junk foods which provide empty calories.

5.   Adults. Adults need to be independent in terms of their food choices. At this stage, people have a tendency to either overeat or undereat. However, good nutrition and a balanced diet should be observed to prevent diseases caused by improper eating practices.

Aside from the groups discussed, there is the so-called vulnerable group. This group includes pregnant women and nursing mothers.

Pregnant women. The nutritional requirement of pregnant women is high because of the rapid build-up of activities of the fetus in the womb. The health of the fetus is highly dependent on the mother's health and what she eats. It is important to include the following food in their daily diet to be assured of a normal and healthy baby.

a.   Foods rich in iron like pork or chicken liver, heart, kidney, lean meat, or egg yolk dried beans and leafy greens and yellow vegetables.

b.   Vitamin C-rich fruits such as: pomelos, guavas, mangoes, etc.

c.   More body-building foods like fish, meat, poultry, milk, dried beans and eggs.

Nursing mothers. A lactating mother has higher nutritional demands than when she was pregnant because she has to produce milk, the nutrient content of which depends on the adequacy of her diet. For a nursing mother to be assured of continued health throughout lactation, she needs to follow a modified diet that is an expansion of the varied diet recommended during pregnancy. A lactating mother's daily diet includes the following:

a.   Increased intake of fish, meat, poultry, dried beans and other building foods

b.   A generous amount of liquid such as: soup, broth, juices and daily intake of milk and calcium.

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c.   Sufficient amounts of leafy green and yellow vegetables, vitamin-rich fruits and other fruits and vegetables.

d.   Energy-rich foods such as rice, cereals, root crops, and tubers, fats and sugar.


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It is so easy to be reactive! You get caught Lip in the moment. You say things you dot* mean. You do things you later regret. And you think, "If only I had stopped to think about it, I never would have reacted that way!"

Family life would be a whole lot better if (people acted according to their values instead of reacting to the emotion or circumstance of the moment It's possible to develop a habit of learning to pause and give wiser responses. Proactively is the ability to act rather than react.

I have a friend who makes a powerful proactive choice every day. When she comes home from work, she sits in her car in the driveway and pauses. She takes a minute to think about the members of her family and what they are doing inside the house She considers what kind of feeling she wants to help create when she goes, inside. She says to herself, "my family is the most enjoyable, the most pleasant, the most important part of my life. I'm going to go into my home and feel and communicate my love for them."

Just think of the difference this makes in her family. And another friend told me this story, which shows Habit 1 in action:

While my wife was out of the room, my three-year-old son Brenton emptied a one-and-a-half-gallon jug of water from the fridge-most of it onto the kitchen floor. My wife's initial reaction had been to yell at him. Instead, she stopped herself and said patiently, "Brenton, what were you trying to do?"

"I was trying to be a helping man, Mom," he replied proudly.

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"I washed the dishes for you."

Sure enough, there on the kitchen table were all the dishes he had washed with the water from the jug.

"Well, honey, why did you use the water from the fridge?"

"I couldn't reach the water from the sink."

"Oh!" my wife said. Then she looked around. "Well, what do you think you could do next time that would make less of a mess?"

He thought about it for a minute. Then his face lit up. "I could do it in the bathroom!"

"The dishes might break in the bathroom," she replied. "But how about this? What if you came and got me and I helped you move a chair in front of the kitchen sink so you could do the work there?"

"Good idea!" he exclaimed.

As my wife was telling me what had happened, I realized how important it was that she had been able to catch herself between stimulus and response. She had made a proactive choice.

One useful way to communicate the idea of proactivity is through an analogy I call the "emotional bank account." This account is like a financial one in that you can make "deposits"-things that build trust in the relationship-or "withdrawals" - things that decrease the level of trust. The balance in the account determines how well you can communicate and solve problems with another person.

One of the great benefits of being proactive is that you can choose to make deposits instead of withdrawals. No matter what the situation, there are always things you can choose to do that will make relationships better.

Little kindnesses go a long way toward building relationships of trust and unconditional love. just think about the impact in your own family of saying "thank you," "please" or "you go first." Or performing unexpected acts of service such as phoning to see if there's anything you can pick up at the store on your way home. Twelve hugs a day-that's what people need. Hugs can be physical, verbal, visual or environmental. And each one is a deposit in the emotional bank account.

You would be hard pressed to come up with a deposit that has more impact than making and keeping promises. just think about it! How much excitement, anticipation and hope is created by a promise?

Our daughter Cynthia shared this memory:

When I was twelve, Dad promised to take me with him on a business trip to San Francisco. I was so excited! After Dad's meetings, we planned to go to Chinatown for dinner, see a movie, take a ride on a trolley car, then go back to our hotel room for hot fudge sundaes from room service. I was dying with anticipation.

The day finally arrived. The hours dragged by as I waited at the hotel. Finally, at 6:30 p.m., Dad returned with a dear friend and influential business acquaintance. My heart sank as this man said, "I'm so delighted to have you here, Stephen. Tonight, Lois and I would like to take you to the wharf for a seafood dinner, and then you must see the view from our house." I could see my hopes and plans going down the drain.

I will never forget the feeling I had when Dad said, "Gosh, Bill, I'd love to, but this is a special time with my daughter. We've already got it planned to the minute."

We did absolutely everything we had planned. I don't think any young girl ever loved her father as much as I loved mine that night.


With Habit 2, you create a clear, compelling vision of what your family is-and where you want to go together. The most profound, significant and far-reaching application of Habit 2 is the family mission statement. This is a combined, unified expression from all family members of what it is your family really wants to do and be-and the principles you choose to govern your family life.

When children are young, they generally love to be included in the process of creating a mission statement. They love helping to create something that gives them this sense of family identity.

Our daughter Catherine, who's now grown and has children of her own, said:

Before my husband and I were married, we talked about what we wanted our home to be like, especially when we had children. It was out of these discussions that we wrote our family mission statement.

We have three children now, and although our mission statement has remained fundamentally the same, it has changed a little with each child. After we had two children, we had more perspective, and we were able to realize better how we wanted to raise our kids together-how we wanted them to be upstanding citizens in the community and so on.

The children have added things to our mission statement as well. Our oldest is six. She wants to make sure we tell lots of jokes in our family, so we have added that in for her.

Every New Year's Eve we work on our mission statement and write out our goals for the coming year. Our kids are very excited about the whole process. We post our mission statement and the children refer to it often. They say, "Mom, you're not supposed to raise your voice. Remember-'happy, cheerful tones in our home."' It's a big reminder.

Here's how to create a mission statement in your family.

Step One: Explore what your family is all about. Call a family meeting to introduce the idea and start the process. Keep it short: Ten fun minutes a week over a period of several weeks will be much more effective than one or two long, philosophical discussions.

Be explicit with the idea that you want the mission statement to serve as a unifying and motivating influence for everyone in the family. Ask questions such as: What things are truly important to us as a family? What are our family's highest priority goals? What kind of relationships do we want to have with each other? What are our responsibilities as family members?

Step Two: Write your family mission statement. The process of writing crystallizes your thoughts and distills learning and insights into words. It also reinforces learning and makes the expression visible and available to everyone in the family.

Whatever you come up with at first will be a rough draft. Family members will need to work with it until everyone comes to an agreement: "This is our mission. We believe it. We buy into it. We are ready to commit to live it."

It doesn't have to be some magnificent verbal expression. It may be a word, a page, a document, even a song or a drawing. The only real criterion is that it represents everyone in the family and inspires you and brings you together.

Step Three: Stay on track. A mission statement is meant to be the constitution of your family life, the foundational document that will unify and hold your family together for decades-even generations-to come.

One father told me:

For our b

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