By Benice James
I have a neighbour who takes and fried ripe plantain almost every night. I was moved to ask her if she so much love the meal. She told me that she eats it because it is and balance diet. Waooh! I laughed: I had to let her know that the food is not balanced. The analysis is that the pap and sugar are in the class of carbohydrate while ripe plantain on the other hand is of the class of carbohydrate. This tells me that we need the knowledge of the six classes of food and their sources. The knowledge helps you to balance your children’s meals. In another development a young woman likes cooking rice with macaroni to balance her diet. I really wonder! Moreso, some parents buy things like ice cream, yogurht and the likes thinking they are doing wonderful to their wards but the reverse is the case. You will see the children puffing up like balloon; it is not an evidence of good living. You don’t need to be a millionaire to feed your children with balance diet but you need the knowledge of the classes of food and their sources. That is, which nutrient is available in what.
For children to have a normal growth, what they eat must be checked. Feeding children with one type of food or junk food can be detrimental to the growth of that child. Balance diet is a diet that contains all the essential body nutrient or that in which all the classes of food is represented. These classes of food include; carbohydrate, protein, fats and oil, vitamins, minerals salt and water. It consists of proper quanties and proportion of these nutrients needed for growth, good health, repair of body worn out tissues, proper circulation of the blood in the body e.t.c
Feeding your children with balance diet should start from the time they are in the womb. A mother that feeds on balance diet when she is pregnant produces a sound baby. Mothers are therefore advised to feed on balanced meals when they are pregnant as the quality of nutrition during pregnancy determines the continuity of life from the womb to adulthood. Most defects acquired by babies in the womb are mostly due to what the mother ate or what the mother did not take.
After delivery the breast milk gives the baby all the nutrients needed by his or her body as posits the experts. When it is time for the child to eat, make sure that the six classes of food are represented in almost every meal. Carbohydrate which forms the basic of almost every meal in this part of the country should not always be when you are planning a child’s meal rather makes protein the base of your wards meals. The reason is not far fetched. The child needs lots of protein calories to grow. Tall children give joy to their parents, especially when the parents feel that the tallness they lack will be fulfilled in their children. Every class of food has a particular function to perform in the body of a child. Any class of food a child lacks has a deficiency disease that accompanies it. Look at this nutritional fact below.
Protein is mainly for growth and repair of worn out tissues in the body.Carbohydrate gives the child energy for physical activities. Fats and oil keeps the body warm. It produces heat and acts as a reserve of energy. Vitamins increase the body’s immune power, thereby assists the body in fighting against diseases. It helps the body to absorb and utilize food nutrients properly and thus strengthens the bones and beautifies the skin.Examples of these vitamins are:vits A,B,C,D,E,k,e.t.c Mineral salts helps the body to fight against fatigue and weakness, anaemia, anxiety, goiter, and insomnia. It encourages blood production, circulation and maintenance. It contains micro elements such as iodine, zinc, fluoride, calcium, iron e.t.c lastly water is made up hydrogen and oxygen. Water regulates the body temperature, aids movement of body liquid ,helps in circulation ,cleanses the whole system e, t. c.These are the classes of food and their sources to help you in your child’s meal planning.
CLASS OF FOOD SOURCES
- Carbohydrates: Yam,rice,garri,cassava,ripe,plantain,maize,millet,oat,custard,bread,potatoes,
- Jelly toes,sugar,honey e.t.c.
- Protein: Animal source:meat,fish,egg,milk,cheese,shrimp, e.t.c
- Plant sources:beans, mellon,peas,legumes,green beans, groundnut,oil bean e.t.c.
- Fats and oil: Milk,cheese,butter,eggs,oily fish,(cod, halibut),Margarine, vegetable oil, groundnut,oil beans, castor oil, pear e.g.
- Mineral oil: Table salt,cereals,legumes,nuts,vegetables,whole grains,cheese,tomatoes, okra, meats from poutry,fruit,foods from water e.g. crab, periwinkle e.t.c.
- Vitamins: Vegetables and fruits
- Water: Watery fruits and foods,milk,fruit juice e.g. orange showershop,water mellon e.t.c.
The knowledge of the importance of these classes of food will be helpful to parents so as to see the need for the presence of all these in their child’s meal. Marc Goodman Bryan says, ‘a child that does not make an adequate intake of Iodine and iron may experience both cognitive (ability to learn, understand and memorise) and motor (ability to manipulate objects) development delayed. He also posit that a child who is deficient in fatty acid DHA might experience delay in learning and development. It is very obvious that no parent will like to put his/her child’s health, growth and development in jeopardy. Perhaps the cause of imbalance diets in the homes may be ignorance, bad economy or both put together. Some have money enough to provide good food and balance meal for their kids but ignorance may be their problem. In that case they feed their children with junk food like noodles and egg, ice cream and others. The children’s diet must be balanced for a healthy growth and development. Catch them young because, when you miss that early stage, you have missed it.