Saturday, June 9, 2012


Several factors have to be considered in developing a food guide for a large country like India. Some of the relevant factors are:
  • Foods plentifully available and normally used in the dietary.
  • Normal meal pattern.
  • Recommended dietary intakes of nutrients for Indians.
  • Need to emphasize some foods because of prevailing nutritional deficiencies in the country.
As you know, food availability and meal patterns vary from one country to another. Therefore a food guide for one country, such as the basic four used in USA, is not suitable for use in India, where meal pattern, food availability arid cost are different. This is one of the  reasons for developing a food guide for India.
In developing a food guide, the foods are classified on the basis of their use and the major nutrients which they provide. Such a classification can serve as a guide for selection and use of foods. For example, cereals, dals, and leafy and other vegetables are such classes. Most of preparations use oils and fats as a seasoning, and jaggery of sugar as a sweetener. These foods, which enhance food acceptability, can be one of the food groups. This is how the food guide is developed.
All the foods we use in our daily meals are divided into five groups in the food guide for India. This is presented in the table. The food groups are chosen because of the specific nutrients contributed by each to the total diet. Foods have been assigned to the groups on the basis of their composition. The food guide is designed to direct selection of foods and quantities consumed to provide by RDA, thus forming the foundation of our adequate diet.
As you may observe, the first column in the table indicates the food group, the third column specifies the amount in one serving,  and the last column indicates the minimum number of servings to be taken to meet your nutritional needs. If sufficient amounts of foods from each of the five groups are included in the day’s diet, the nutrient requirements of the body will be met. Such a diet is a balanced diet, as it meets the person’s nutritional needs.  
Let us study each food group in details, so that we can use the food guide as a practical tool. The food guide is presented pictorially in figure.

Table: Food guide of India
Food group
Foods included
Size of serving
Suggested No. of servings
Cereals & Breads
The staples, rice, wheat, jowar, maize,ragi & their preparations
25 g
9 -16
Protein Foods
Dals, legumes, nuts & oilseeds
25 g

Milk & milk products
150 g
3 - 5
1 No.

(a)  Protective vegetables & fruits
All green leafy vegetables, orange,  yellow vegetables & fruits
50 - 75 g
1 - 2
(b) Vit. C rich vegetables & fruits
Amla, guava, drumstick, orange, papaya, mausumbi, etc.
50 – 75 g
1 -2
Other Vegetables & fruits
All the remaining vegetables such as fruit vegetables, gourds, Immature beans & peas, potatoes, onions, etc. Fruits such as bananas, melons, sapota, grapes, apples, etc.
50 – 75 g
3 or more
Oils, Fats, Sugars
Oils, ghee, butter, vanaspati
5 g
5 or more
Sugar, jiggery, murabbas, syrup
5 g
5 or more

(1)   Adapted from ICMR Special Report series 91
(2)   Mumbai, Sumati R, Food for Fitness, Nutrition Education 2, SNDT Univ.  publication, 1971
(3)    Mumbai, Sumati R & M. V. Rajagopal, Foundations of foods & nutrition, New Age International (P) Limited, New Delhi 1990, pp,  24.5
(4)   Only 10 g will suffice.

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