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National Nutrition Month
Excerpts from the
Nutritional Guidelines For Filipinos
(Revised Edition 2000)

Educating the public to make proper food choices that are appropriate in the cultural, economic, social and environmental conditions that exist has always been a difficult task and continues to be a challenge.

Nutrition education still remains as the cornerstone to improving the nutritional status of the population in the long term. 

Disseminating simple and practical nutrition message that encourage individuals to consume an adequate and well-balanced diet together with a healthy lifestyle is therefore a most desirable objective. In their simplest form, these messages are called Nutritional Guidelines.

The development of Nutritional Guidelines therefore is one of the key strategies to promote appropriate diets and related health practices to achieve the goal of improving the nutritional condition of the population.

Image10 Nutritional Guidelines For Filipinos

1. Eat a variety of foods everyday.

  • The human body needs more than 40 different nutrients for good health. No single food can provide all the nutrients in the amounts needed. Eat a variety of foods, to provide all the nutrients required in the proper amount and balance.

2. Breast-feed infants exclusively from birth to 4-6 months and then, give appropriate foods while continuing breast-feeding.

  • Infants and children up to 2 years of age are most vulnerable to malnutrition. Breast-feeding is one of the most effective strategies to improve child survival. Nutritional requirements of an infant can be obtained solely from breast milk for the first 6 months of life. After that time, breast milk must be complemented with appropriate foods, but breast-feeding should be continued for up to 2 years of age or longer. 
  • The decision to breast-feed is made by the mother. Nonetheless, the husband and other family members, health workers, neighbors, community organizations, officemates and employers must encourage her to breast-feed her infant.

3. Maintain children's normal growth through proper diet and monitor their growth regularly.

  • An adequate diet for an active child is one that promotes good health and normal growth.
  • A well-nourished child is healthy, strong, and alert, has good disposition, and grows at a normal rate.
  • A poorly nourished child exhibits sluggish if not permanently delayed physical and mental development. In addition, he is lethargic and frequently ill because of low resistance to infection.
  • Over nutrition on the other hand, may lead to obesity that may cause physical and emotional problems in childhood and later in life.

4. Consume fish, lean meat, poultry or dried beans.

  • To improve the Filipino diet, not only should the total quantity of food be increased but the quality of the diet should also be improved by including animal products of substitutes.
  • Including fish, lean meat, poultry, or dried beans in the daily meals will not only enhance the protein quality if the diet but also supply highly absorbable iron, preformed vitamin A and zinc.
  • Fish, lean meat, poultry without skin, and dried beans, in contrast to fatty meats, are low in saturated fats, which are linked to heart disease.

5. Eat more vegetables, fruits and root crops.

  • In general, most people do not eat enough vegetables, fruits and root crops. Results of food consumption surveys conducted by the FNRI show that the average consumption of green leafy vegetables, vitamin C-rich fruits and root crops are low in the Filipino diet.
  • The consumption of more vegetables, fruits and root crops is encouraged to help correct the micronutrient deficiencies consistently noted in national nutrition surveys. Eating root crops will add dietary energy to the meal.
6. Eat foods cooked in edible/cooking oil daily.
  • In general, Filipinos use very little oil in their cooking. Boiling is the most common method of food preparation. Hence, the total fat and oil consumption in a Filipino diet is low.
  • Fats and oils are concentrated sources of energy. A low fat and oil consumption results in a diet low in energy value, contributing to chronic energy deficiency. Fats and oils are also essential for absorption and utilization of fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin A. A low fat intake may be one of the causes of vitamin A deficiency among Filipinos.
  • To ensure adequate fat intake, Filipinos should be encouraged to stir-fry foods in vegetable oil or to add fats and oils whenever possible in food preparation. This will guard against chronic energy deficiency and help to lower the risk of vitamin A deficiency.
  • The excessive use of saturated fats and oils, however, may increase the risk of heart disease. The proper choice of fats and oils therefore is essential.

7. Consume milk, milk products and other calcium-rich foods such as small fish and dark green leafy vegetables everyday.

  • Nutrition surveys indicate a consistent failure of Filipinos to meet dietary recommendations for calcium. An adequate amount of calcium in the diet starting from childhood all through adulthood will help prevent osteoporosis in later life.
  • Milk and milk products provide highly absorbable calcium besides being good sources of protein, vitamin A and other nutrients.
  • Milk and other calcium-rich foods are valuable additions to our rice/plant-based diets, which are not only poor sources of calcium but also contain calcium-inhibiting substances.

8. Use iodized salt, but avoid excessive intake of salty foods.

  • Goiter and Iodine Deficiency Disorders are rampant in many areas of the Philippines, causing physical and mental retardation in children. The regular use of iodized salt in the table and in cooking in addition to taking iodine-rich foods, will greatly help in eradicating this preventable disease.
  • On the other hand, excessive intake of salt and salty foods particularly in susceptible individuals increases the risk of hypertension and hence of heart disease. Avoiding too much table salt and overly salty foods may help in the prevention and control of these conditions.

9. Eat clean and safe food.

  • Food and water are essential to life but they may also carry disease-causing organisms like bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites, or harmful chemical substances.
  • It is important to buy foods that are safe. Purchase food only from reliable sources. In addition, care must be taken when preparing and serving meals to prevent food-borne diseases.
  • Sharing in the efforts to improve environmental hygiene and sanitation in the community will greatly contribute to food safety in the home.

10. For a healthy lifestyle and good nutrition, exercise regularly, do not smoke and avoid drinking alcoholic beverages.

  • With the changing lifestyle of Filipinos, chronic degenerative diseases are becoming significant public health problems. Healthy diets, regular exercise, abstinence from smoking and moderate alcohol intake are key components of a healthy lifestyle.


Source:
Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos, Revised Edition 2000; Published by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), Department of Science and Technology (DOST)

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