The Nutrition and Dietetics Decree (PD 491) issued by then Pres. Ferdinand Marcos in 1974, prescribed among others the celebration of Nutrition Month every July. It is a month-long event that gives focus on a particular theme and with the objective of enhancing knowledge on proper nutrition.
This year, the theme is Healthy Diet: Gawing Affordable for All. It stems from the fact that a healthy diet can be expensive which many people cannot afford thereby leading to food and nutrition insecurity, malnutrition and disease.
The combination of food and drinks that one usually eats, make up his/her diet. To be healthy, a diet must be able to provide all the energy and nutrients that the body needs in one day. The needs are determined by several factors such as age, sex, level of physical activity, basal metabolism and physiological condition. Because no single food provides all the nutrients needed by the body, there should be variety and thus includes foods from the different food groups. To ensure balance and moderation, the recommended number of servings in descending order, the foods should be varied and includes staples such as rice or its alternatives; fruits and vegetables; protein-rich foods like meat, fish, seafoods, poultry or legumes; fats and sugars. Fats and sugars are thus least in amount such that its energy content is less than one-third of total energy requirement. The Food Pyramid for Filipinos can serve as a visual guide for a one-day diet while the Pinggang Pinoy or Food Plate model every meal.
A plant-based diet is recommended. Fruits and vegetables should at least be five servings. Other features of a healthy diet include limitations in saturated fat, avoidance of trans fats, both of which are implicated in some diseases of the blood vessels and heart. Unsaturated fats found in most plant-based cooking oil are preferred. Added sugar should not exceed 5-10% of energy requirement. Sodium intake should be limited to what a teaspoon of salt can provide. There is evidence of the health benefits of a diet high in whole grains, vegetables, fruit, legumes, and nuts, and low in salt, free sugars and fats, particularly saturated and trans fats (NNC, 2023).
The foods included should be available, accessible, culturally and socially acceptable. Production, distribution, packaging and consumption should not adversely affect the environment. The food should be safe for consumption.