Food has been a basic part of our existence. Through the centuries we have acquired a wealth of information about the use of food to ensure growth of children and youth, to maintain good health through life, and to meet special needs of pregnancy and lactation and to use it to recover from illness.
When you study food composition you will know the nutritional contribution of foods. You may have been told that certain foods are very important for maintaining good health, while others are harmful. As you study the science of Foods and Nutrition, you will need to examine the ideas you have about foods very carefully and accept or reject these in the light of the knowledge you will acquire. Whatever you learn in this area should be used and applied in your personal life.
A large part of your food heritage is scientifically beneficial and needs to be retained; some aspects may need to be modified in the view of the changes in our lifestyle.
Food is an important topic of conversations, articles in newspapers and magazines, as also of advertisements. Some of this information may be correct but a large part of it may not be. As you learn this subject, you will be able to spread the knowledge gained to those around you, so that they discard false ideas about food, which interfere with their food selection and affect their health.
Food, nutrition and health are intimately connected aspects of our life. Let us start our study by defining these and related terms.
Food is that which nourishes the body. Food may also be defined as anything eaten or drunk, which meets the needs for energy, building, regulation and protection of the body. In short, food is the raw material from which our bodies are made. Intake of the right kinds and amounts of food can ensure good nutrition and health, which may be evident in our appearance, efficiency and emotional well-being.
FUNCTIONS OF FOOD
There are three types of foods are as follows:
1. Physiological functions of food
2. The Social functions of food.
3. The psychological functions of food
Physiological functions of food: The first function of the body is to provide energy. The body needs energy to sustain the involuntary processes essential for continuance of life to carry out professional, household and recreational activities, to convert food ingested into usable nutrients in the body, to grow and to keep warm. The energy needed is supplied by the oxidation of the foods consumed.
The foods we eat become a part of us. Thus one of the most important functions of food is building a body. A newborn baby weighing 2.7-3.2 kg can grow to its potential adult size of 55-60 kg if the right kinds and amounts of foods are eaten from the birth to adulthood. The food eaten each day helps to maintain the structure of the adult body, and to replace worm out cells of the body.
The third function of food is to regulate activities of the body. It includes regulation of such varied activities as:
· Bearing of the heart
· Maintenance of the body temperature
· Muscle contraction
· Control of Water balance
· Clotting of blood
· Removal of Waste products from the body
The fourth function of food is to improve our body’s resistance to disease.
The Social Functions of Food: Food has always been a central part of our social existence. It has been a part of our community, social, cultural and religious life. Special foods are distributed as a benediction or Prasad in the religious functions home, temples and churches. Feasts are given at specific stages of life such as birth, naming ceremony, birthdays, marriages, etc. Most of the religious festivals also call for feasts and feeding of specific segments of the population. Certain menus are associated with most of these feasts in each region.
Food has been used as an expression of love, friendship and social acceptance. It is also used as a symbol of happiness at certain events in life, for example, pedhas are distributed to announce success in examinations, or the birth of a baby; laddus are associated with the celebration of EID Festival, Deepavali and marriages, cakes are associated with Christmas and birthdays and tilgul with sankranti the festival of friendship. At EID day the Muslims are prepared very delicious and rich dishes and share their foods with relatives and poor peoples in the society.
As food is an integral part of our social existence, this function is important in daily life. Refreshments served at get-togethers or meetings create a relaxed atmosphere. The menu for such get-together, should bring the people together, rather than divide them. This basic aspect should be considered in planning menus for such occasions.
The Psychological Functions of Food: In addition to satisfying physical and social needs, food must satisfy certain emotional needs. These includes a sense of security, love and attention. Thus familiar foods make us feel secure. Thus familiar foods make us feel secure. Anticipating needs and fulfilling these are expressions of love and attention. These sentiments are the basis of the normal attachment to the mother’s cook. Sharing of food is a token of friendship and acceptance. Sharing of foods is a token of friendship and acceptance. It must be noted that even a nutritionally balanced meal may not be satisfying to the individual, if the foods included are unfamiliar or distasteful to him /her. With time and repeated experience, strange foods become familiar and new tastes are formed.
These aspects are important in food acceptance and must be considered in planning meals, which are not only nutritionally adequate, but also enjoyable for the group for whom they are intended.