Balanced diet consists of all the nutrients in varying amounts. To maintain proper health, one needs the right type of food in right quantity. The need generally varies with age, sex, type of work and state of body.

A balanced diet is one that contains all essential nutrients in suitable proportion and amount to provide necessary energy and keeps the body in a healthy state.

A balanced diet has the following qualities:

  • It meets the nutrient requirement of the body
  • It consists of different types of food items.
  • It provides adequate amount of energy.

Nutritional needs for growing children

Growing children need more food in proportion to their body weight. They need:

  1. extra protein to make new tissues for growth
  2. more calcium and phosphorous for formation of bones and red blood cells
  3. vitamin A for development of healthy eyesight
  4. vitamin C for general health
  5. vitamin D for healthy bones

Nutritional needs for persons in different occupations

Persons doing hard physical work like rickshaw pullers, labourers, carpenters, mill workers, require food which is rich in energy (carbohydrates and fats). Similarly, athletes also require diet of high energy value.

Nutritional needs during pregnancy and lactation

A pregnant women has to feed the developing embryo, therefore, she has special need for extra nutrients. The pregnant women and lactating mothers should take:

  1. extra protein for tissue growth
  2. more calcium and phosphorus to form bones of the baby
  3. more iron for making sufficient blood of the baby
  4. more carbohydrates for herself because extra energy is required to carry out all the building processes linked with embryo

Similarly, nursing mothers (who breast feed their babies), also need a special diet to take care of their additional requirements of lactation (milk formation). So their diet should contain more proteins, calcium and vitamins.

Nutritional needs depending upon the state of health

The persons recovering from illness need more proteins, minerals and vitamins in their diet to repair the damage caused by the ailment. If there is loss of blood due to surgery or an accident the patient needs more of proteins and iron to make up for the loss of blood.