Thursday, January 22, 2009

Planning a Healthy Menu

Do you go to sleep at night trying to figure out what to make for breakfast? Once breakfast is done away with, raid the fridge to find something that can be had for lunch and dinner? Sounds fine,but have you been able to make and eat a balanced diet through the day?
A balanced diet is one which has all the required amount and types of foods that the body needs for normal growth and development.
So,how does one go about planning a healthy menu?
There are five basic food groups that one needs to choose from:
  1. Cereals and grains (Eg:unpolished rice/brown rice,whole grain breads,etc)
  2. Pulses and legumes(Eg: Dals,peas,moong)
  3. Fruits and vegetables
  4. Meat and milk (Eg: skinned chicken, fish; skimmed milk,low fat curd)
  5. Fats and sugars (Eg:Olive oil,canola,peanut oil,etc)
You need to choose an item from each group,but keep in mind that quantity also matters. The cereals/grains would form the main part of your meal and will also provide the required amount of energy. The pulses/legumes or the meat/milk group will provide protein,while the fruits and vegetables will provide the vitamins, minerals and fibre, among other things.
Let's try and plan a meal based on the information provided:
Unpolished/semi-polished rice (Cereal group)
+Dal palak (Pulses+Vegetable group) or Fish curry (for non-vegetarians)
+Garden Salad (Vegetable group)
+Low fat curd (Milk group)
and the oil used for cooking would come from the last group.
Again,I have not mentioned the amount,as this has to be determined individually.
Here are a few things you need to keep in mind:
  • Try using whole grain foods whenever possible.
  • Include plenty of fruits and vegetables in the meal.
  • Use just one teaspoon of oil for cooking the entire dish.No frying.
  • Use white(lean meat)when choosing from the meat group.
  • Moderation is the key when choosing from the grain and meat groups.
  • Try to be innovative and add pulses/legumes to recipes if you don't have the time to make a separate dish from pulses-eg. Veg pulav with channa/soya nuggets, Cauliflower and peas sabzi,etc.
As Smitha Suresh has written in the earlier post,it helps to plan the whole days menu.Planning an entire week's menu would be great and would also help you while grocery shopping.

No comments: