There is one person whose decision, good or bad, determines the health of a family; this person is we: the wife, mother, or woman of the house. Indeed, our decision determines if the family becomes obese, malnourished, sickly, healthy or vibrant.
Our decision determines the grades the kids get in school and how active and competitive they will be. Also, we influence our husband’s level of productivity at work and in the society.
Indeed, it is a heavy burden being the decider of the nutritional status of the family. One has to make sure the different needs of the family are met; the needs of the children for growth and development differ from that of adults, and this has to be considered in meal planning.
Children require lots of protein and dairy and healthy snacks, but the adults require energy-giving foods to be able to cope with the daily rigours of work and life.
A simple way to meet this challenge is to draw up a meal plan. This has numerous advantages as it helps save unnecessary trips to the market or grocery shop, thereby saving both time and money; besides, the members of the family can make inputs as to what kind of meals they love – and this serves as an added advantage.
Each day’s meal should provide for all classes of food – carbohydrates, proteins, fats and oil, vitamins, minerals and water. However, achieving the right balance of these is equally important.
Carbohydrates (e.g. potatoes and bread) provide energy for the body; proteins (e.g. beans, fish, and eggs) facilitate growth; fats store up energy for later use; vitamins and minerals (e.g. fruits and vegetables) provide micro nutrients and fibre not supplied by other meals, and as for water, it is essential and makes up most of our body.
Generally, each day’s meal should incorporate at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables; the more colourful the plate looks, the better. An example of a portion of fruit is one apple or banana. Starchy foods (like brown rice, whole wheat, and pasta) should be the main portion of meals and should be over one-third of a whole meal.
The children especially will benefit from milk and dairy foods like low-sugar yoghurt and cheese. For proteins, aiming for at least two portions of a fish weekly is good. Fats are essential but should be regulated – it is best to cook with cholesterol-free oil. Finally, we should always remember that water is the essential ingredient of life.
By getting the right mix of these classes of food for our family, we can only watch them becoming healthier and happier.