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Meeting
nutritional needs
throughout life
LESSON OVERVIEW
This lesson is about our nutritional needs
at different ages and in different stages of
life. It shows how nutritional needs vary with
age, sex, health status and activity level and
highlights how important it is to meet our different
food and nutrient needs in each of these life stages.
It explains that people need more food if they are
growing or helping others to grow (infants, children
and pregnant and breastfeeding women); they need
more food if they work and play hard and they may
need more food if they are sick.
The lesson is divided into six separate sections
describing the special nutritional needs during
pregnancy and breastfeeding, the nutritional needs
of babies and infants (0–24 months), children
(2–10 years), adolescents (11–17 years), older people
and people during illness. It suggests some good
foods to eat and good eating habits that can help
meet the special needs of each of the different age
groups and life stages.
LEARNING OBJECTIVES
By the end of
the lesson, you
will be able to:
P understand how our
nutritional needs vary with
age, sex, health status and
activity level;
P describe our special
nutritional needs
at different ages and
in different stages of life;
P recognize and describe
good diets for babies, children,
adolescents, pregnant and
breastfeeding women, in older
age and during illness.
Lesson 6
Meeting
nutritional needs
throughout life
Topic 3
How to
eat well for
good health
140 EATING WELL FOR GOOD HEALTH
TO THINK
ABOUT
WHILE
READING
Why are there
special nutritional
needs in
pregnancy?
What can happen
if a woman
does not eat well
when she is
pregnant?
What is a good
diet for pregnant
and breastfeeding
women?
Part 1
Nutritional needs
in pregnancy and breastfeeding
READING
All pregnant women need to eat a good, balanced diet and gain
additional weight to support a healthy pregnancy and childbirth.
A diet that provides the increased energy (calories) and nutrients needed during
pregnancy is necessary for the health of both mother and baby. If the nutritional
needs of the mother and baby are not met, the health effects can be serious. The
mother’s own stores of nutrients may be reduced, putting her at increased risk of
illness. A baby deprived of adequate nutrition before birth is likely to have poor
development in childhood and health problems throughout life.
A mother’s weight gain in pregnancy directly affects the baby’s
development, weight and health at birth. All pregnant women need to
gain some weight during pregnancy, no matter what they weigh before pregnancy.
The amount of weight to gain depends on the women’s height and weight when
she becomes pregnant. This weight gain is needed for the proper development of
the growing baby and for the added growth of the uterus, breasts and blood and
other fluids and tissues needed to support the growing baby. Women at a healthy
weight when they become pregnant should gain between 11.5 kg and 16.0 kg
during pregnancy.
Underweight women have a greater risk of low birthweight and
pre-term babies (born before 38 weeks of pregnancy). Babies with a low
weight at birth (2.5 kg or less) have more health problems early in life. Severely
underweight babies are more likely to die in infancy. Women who are underweight
can improve their chances of having a healthy infant by gaining extra weight
both before and during pregnancy. Women who are underweight at the time of
pregnancy should gain between 12.5 kg to 18.0 kg during pregnancy.
Overweight and obese women are at high risk of health
complications for themselves and their baby. The health complications
for women who are overweight and obese when they become pregnant include high
blood pressure, diabetes during pregnancy, infections at birth and complications of
labour and birth. Their infants are more likely to be born post-term (born after 42
weeks of pregnancy) and to be very large. Babies who are very large at birth increase
the likelihood of difficulties at birth. Babies born to obese mothers are at greater risk
of heart defects and serious defects of the spine and brain. Overweight and obese
women should try to be at a healthy weight before becoming pregnant; they should 
EATING WELL FOR GOOD HEALTH
Lesson 6
Meeting
nutritional needs
throughout life
Part 1
Nutritional needs
in pregnancy
and breastfeeding
Topic 3
How to
eat well for
good health
141
avoid gaining too much weight during pregnancy but should not try to lose weight
until after the baby is born. Women who are overweight or obese at the time of
pregnancy should gain between 7.0 kg to 11.5kg.
A good diet during pregnancy is very important to meet the higher
nutritional requirements of both the mother and baby. All nutrients
need to be included in the diet during pregnancy and additional calories are
needed to provide the energy required by the mother for the extra demands of
pregnancy and by the baby for growth and development. Protein is especially
important, as it provides the “building blocks” (amino acids) to create new tissue,
such as increasing blood supply, cell and bone growth. Other nutrients that are
especially important are iodine, iron, zinc, folate, vitamin A and vitamin C.
Pregnant women need to eat about 280 extra calories a day.
To meet these needs for additional calories and nutrients, pregnant
women should eat one or more additional servings of food either at
meals or for snacks in between meals. Some suggestions as to how to meet those
needs are:
P additional portions of protein foods, which include meat, fish or poultry;
legumes, such as soybeans or tofu, lentils and other dried beans, nuts, such
as groundnuts;
P large portions of green leafy vegetables; red or orange vegetables, such as
sweet potatoes, yams, pumpkin; fruits including both citrus and other
fruits;
P additional portions of milk and milk products, such as cheese and yoghurt.
Adequate iodine during pregnancy will help prevent serious
birth defects, such as brain damage and mental retardation related to iodine
deficiency. This need can be met through using iodized salt and eating seafoods
that are rich in iodine.
High amounts of iron are needed to prevent anaemia in both the
mother and baby. Having adequate iron at this time will help reduce the risk of
birth defects and deaths in pregnancy and childbirth. Additional servings of foods
containing high amounts of iron, such as red meats, fish, poultry and legumes
should be eaten. Women who are not able to meet their need for iron through
their diet are advised, under the guidance of a doctor or other health professional,
to take iron supplements during pregnancy, in addition to eating as many ironrich foods as they can.
r'' Fact sheet on Iodine in Lesson 3.
r'' Fact sheet on Iron in Lesson 3.
r
EATING WELL FOR GOOD HEALTH
Lesson 6
Meeting
nutritional needs
throughout life
Part 1
Nutritional needs
in pregnancy
and breastfeeding
Topic 3
How to
eat well for
good health
142
Very high levels of folate (a form of vitamin B) are needed to
prevent severe birth defects during the first few weeks of pregnancy and
to prevent anaemia in the mother and baby. The need for folate in preparation
for and during pregnancy can be met by consuming at least 5 servings a day of
vegetables and fruits rich in folate, especially leafy green vegetables, beans, peas
and other legumes, and liver. Because of the high levels of folate needed during
this time, and the severity of the birth defects resulting from lack of folate early
in pregnancy, women who are not able to meet their need for folate through
their diet are advised to eat foods fortified with folic acid (the synthetic form
of folate) or take folic acid supplements, in addition to eating folate-rich foods.
Women should consult a doctor or health professional for advice before taking
supplements.
A good diet by the mother during breastfeeding increases the
success of breastfeeding and improves the health of mother and
baby. Breastfeeding requires additional nutrients and energy, as the mother needs
to replace the nutrients and energy that are passed on to the baby through the
milk. The nutrients that are important for a good supply of breastmilk are the
same as those that are important for a healthy pregnancy. These include protein,
zinc, calcium, vitamins A and C, iron and folate. Even more nutrients and an
additional 450 calories every day are required to keep both mother and baby
healthy during breastfeeding. Additional servings of milk and high protein snacks
between meals or an additional small meal every day are good ways to meet the
additional needs of breastfeeding. In addition to extra food, the mother needs to
drink extra water and other liquids because of the fluid breastmilk that is provided
to the baby. Insufficient food or water can decrease the amount of milk the mother
is able to provide, putting the baby at risk.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women have such high nutritional
demands that it may take two to three years after stopping
breastfeeding for all of the mother’s nutritional stores to be
replaced. For this reason, good spacing between pregnancies can help improve
the health of the mother and her future babies.
r''Lesson 5 for more information on essential vitamins and minerals
rand good food sources.
r''Lesson 4 for more information on the macronutrients, their functions
rand good food sources.
s 
EATING WELL FOR GOOD HEALTH
Lesson 6
Meeting
nutritional needs
throughout life
Part 1
Nutritional needs
in pregnancy
and breastfeeding
Topic 3
How to
eat well for
good health
143
MATERIALS
Fact sheet Nutrition during pregnancy and breastfeeding (mother)
Fact sheet Weight gain during pregnancy
Match it work sheet Maternal health
Work sheet Good foods to eat during pregnancy
Work sheet Eating well during pregnancy
ACTIVITIES
Maternal health
Take a quick matching exercise to check your understanding of a healthy diet
during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Good foods to eat during pregnancy
What nutrients are especially important for pregnant women and unborn babies?
What foods are good sources of these nutrients? Fill in the Good foods to eat
during pregnancy work sheet with the names of locally available foods rich in these
nutrients.
Prepare a snack for a pregnant woman
List all the snacks that you think can meet the special dietary needs of pregnant
women in your community.
If working as a class, you can divide into groups to prepare some of the
snacks on your lists. Invite your friends and families to taste the food and select
the winner. Take pictures of every snack and create a snack recipe book for
pregnant women in your community.
Eating well during pregnancy
Read about Sara, Fatima and Elena and help these three pregnant women choose
the best foods for themselves and their babies.
If you are working as a class, split into three groups and create a 3-day menu
for the mothers-to-be. If you are working individually, choose one woman and
create a 3-day menu for her.
EATING WELL FOR GOOD HEALTH
Lesson 6
Meeting
nutritional needs
throughout life
Part 1
Nutritional needs
in pregnancy
and breastfeeding
Topic 3
How to
eat well for
good health
144
A healthy diet
during pregnancy and breastfeeding
P A pregnant woman must meet the nutritional needs
of both the rapidly growing baby and her own
body changes. Poor diets and poor nutrition during
pregnancy can lead to serious health problems for both
mother and baby.
P A mother’s weight gain in pregnancy directly affects
the baby’s development, weight and health at birth.
Underweight women have a greater risk of low
birthweight and pre-term babies; they need to gain
extra weight. Overweight and obese women are at risk
of health complications for themselves and their babies;
they need to gain less weight but should not try to lose
weight in pregnancy.
P A good diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding should
include additional calories and a variety of foods to
ensure that mothers get all the nutrients they need,
especially protein, iodine, zinc, vitamins A and C, and
high amounts of folate and iron.
KEY POINTS
Review these three
key points to remember about
a healthy diet during pregnancy
and breastfeeding.
See if your knowledge has improved
and share it with pregnant
and nursing women in your family.
EATING WELL FOR GOOD HEALTH
Lesson 6
Meeting
nutritional needs
throughout life
Topic 3
How to
eat well for
good health
145
Part 2
Nutritional needs of babies and
infants (0–24 months)
READING
Nutritional needs of babies 0–6 months
Breastmilk is the natural food for babies. It is safe, inexpensive and
provides all of the nutrients babies need for the first 6 months of life. It has the
very important added advantage of increasing the baby’s resistance to disease, as
the mother is able to pass her own immune factors for certain diseases through her
milk to protect her baby. This ability of breastmilk to provide protection against
many diseases is an important reason that breastmilk is so healthy for babies;
during the first six months of life, babies depend on their mother’s milk while
their digestive and immune systems are developing and maturing. Colostrum,
the first milk right after birth, is an essential food for newborn babies. It contains
high levels of vitamin A and substances that protect newborns from infections
and disease. Babies who are breastfed have many health advantages over babies
fed other milks. Mother’s milk contains the perfect amount of protein, fat,
carbohydrate and other nutrients for the new baby’s growth and development.
Because breastmilk is so perfect for babies, it is recommended
that they be fed only breastmilk for the first six months of life and
that mothers breastfeed for as long as they can. Giving only breastmilk (exclusive
breastfeeding) means not giving other foods or liquids to the infant for the first
six months after birth, with the exception of vitamin and mineral supplements or
medicines. Giving the baby other foods, liquids or water too early can introduce
bacteria and increase the risk of infections and illness. Babies who are breastfed
exclusively for the first six months and who continue partial breastfeeding for up
to two years have lower rates of illness and death.
Mothers who cannot breastfeed should consult a health care
professional to plan appropriate replacement milk. Giving cow, goat
or any other animal milk to a baby under one year of age is not an adequate
replacement for breastmilk, as the nutrients in those milks are those needed to
support the growth of a baby cow or goat and are different from the nutrients
needed by a human baby. Infant formulas available commercially can be a
breastmilk substitute when necessary, but formula does not provide protection to
the baby’s immune system. Formula is usually expensive and requires clean water
and sanitary conditions for proper preparation, cleaning of bottles and feeding.
TO THINK
ABOUT
WHILE
READING
What is
the best food
for babies from
birth to 6 months
of age?
What should
babies this age
eat if breastmilk
is not available?
What foods
do babies
6–24 months
need? 
EATING WELL FOR GOOD HEALTH
Lesson 6
Meeting
nutritional needs
throughout life
Topic 3
How to
eat well for
good health
146
Part 2
Nutritional needs
of babies and infants
(0–24 months)
While breastmilk is the very best food for most infants, when
the mother is HIV-positive or taking certain drugs, breastfeeding
may not be recommended. Both the HIV virus and most drugs enter into
breastmilk and therefore get into the baby’s system. HIV can be transmitted from
an infected mother during pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. To reduce the
risk of the baby becoming infected with HIV, infected mothers who breastfeed
their babies are advised to take a course of antiretroviral drugs throughout the
breastfeeding period. Pregnant HIV women who take antiretroviral drugs through
their pregnancy and breastfeeding can greatly reduce the chances of their baby
being infected with HIV. When antiretroviral drugs are not available or are not
taken, replacement (formula) feeding is advised if the formula is nutritionally
adequate, affordable and safe (made with clean water and utensils). When formula
feeding is not possible, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months is still
recommended. Mothers should be tested for HIV before or during pregnancy
and all HIV-pregnant women and mothers should consult a health care worker or
doctor to discuss the risks and benefits of the different ways to feed their babies.
Nutritional needs of children 6–24 months (2 years)
Breastmilk is the basic food of the young baby, but as the
baby grows older, milk alone is not enough to meet increased
nutritional needs. Because young children continue to grow very fast and
may still have immature digestive and immune systems, continued breastfeeding
is recommended until they are 18 months to two years of age, in addition
to other foods. By six months, babies need to start to eat other foods, called
“complementary foods” because they complement the breastmilk, to meet their
needs for energy, protein, vitamins and minerals. Babies and young children
6–24 months old have very high energy and nutrient needs for their body size and
are often at risk of being malnourished. Adequate care and feeding is essential for
their normal growth, development, health and activity.
Frequent feeding (4–5 times a day) with appropriate foods, in
addition to breastmilk, ensures that young children get sufficient
energy and nutrients to grow normally and stay healthy. In the first
12 months of life a baby will triple its weight and increase its length by 50 per
cent. Additional calories, protein and iron are especially important to meet the
demands of the baby’s rapid growth, in addition to other vitamins and minerals.
Foods for children this age require special preparation to make sure that the foods
are clean, soft and easy to eat and digest, as well as nutritious. To meet all of the
baby’s nutritional needs, foods high in energy and other nutrients, such as oil,
fruit, vegetables, legumes and animal products, should be included in the baby’s
diet. When the baby is accustomed to liquid and soft foods, and as teeth appear,
semi-solid and then solid foods can gradually be added to their diet.
EATING WELL FOR GOOD HEALTH
Lesson 6
Meeting
nutritional needs
throughout life
Topic 3
How to
eat well for
good health
147
Part 2
Nutritional needs
of babies and infants
(0–24 months)
New foods should be introduced to the child one at a time, allowing
the child to get used to the food before another new food is
introduced to their diet. Good first complementary foods include soft meat,
vegetables and fruits, mashed or puréed to a thin consistency to prevent the baby
from choking. Foods should be prepared without added salt, as babies cannot yet
process salt in their systems. Starchy foods alone are not the best first foods for
babies because they do not provide enough protein, calories and other nutrients to
meet the needs of the rapidly growing baby. Babies who are fed too much starchy
food that replaces more nourishing foods or breastmilk can become malnourished,
ill, and stop growing properly. Starchy staple foods that are part of the local diet
can be enriched to make good complementary foods by adding groundnuts,
beans, shredded or pounded green leafy vegetables and other vegetables, fatty
foods (groundnuts, meat or fatty fish) and a small amount of oil.
MATERIALS
Fact sheet Breastfeeding babies (0–6 months)
Work sheet Personal childhood timeline
Into the field work sheet Community interview
ACTIVITIES
Breastfed is best fed
Invite a specialist (a doctor, a nurse, a nutrition expert) to talk about the special
health and nutritional benefits of breastmilk and the dietary needs of babies and
infants from birth until the age of two years.
Personal childhood timeline
Talk to your mother or an older family member and try to find out as much as
possible about:
1. Your diet – what you were fed as a baby until the age of two (breastmilk,
infant formula, complementary local foods)
2. Your health – any illness episodes, vaccinations, first teeth, growth,
weight gain.
Draw your personal childhood timeline on the Work sheet and fill it in with
the facts on your feeding and health.
EATING WELL FOR GOOD HEALTH
Lesson 6
Meeting
nutritional needs
throughout life
Topic 3
How to
eat well for
good health
148
Part 2
Nutritional needs
of babies and infants
(0–24 months)
Community interview
Contact three women in your family or community who have babies under one
year of age and ask them for an interview about breastfeeding. You can come up
with your own questions or use the ready-made questionnaire on the Into the field
work sheet.
Discuss the breastfeeding realities and traditions that exist in your
community. Compare them with the experts’ recommendations: Exclusive
breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with the introduction of
additional, complementary foods and continued breastfeeding up to two years of
age or beyond.
Nutrition of babies and infants
from birth to 24 months
P Breastmilk is the healthiest food for babies. It provides
protection against diseases and contains the nutrients
the baby needs for healthy growth and development.
P Babies should be fed only breastmilk for the first six
months, and should continue breastfeeding until
18–24 months. At the age of six months, babies need to
start eating other “complementary” foods in addition to
breastmilk.
P Complementary foods for children this age require
special preparation to make sure that the foods are
clean, soft and easy to eat and digest, and should be
introduced gradually. Good first foods are mashed,
pounded or shredded soft meats, vegetables, legumes
and fruits together with a small amount of oil.
KEY POINTS
Review three key points to
remember about a healthy diet for
babies under 2 years of age.
See if your knowledge has improved
and share it with people who are
responsible for feeding the babies in
your family. 
EATING WELL FOR GOOD HEALTH
Lesson 6
Meeting
nutritional needs
throughout life
Topic 3
How to
eat well for
good health
149
Part 3
Nutritional needs of children
2–10 years
READING
Children have a high need for energy and nutrients but they have
small stomachs and cannot eat large portions of food at one time.
For this reason, they need to eat foods rich in protein and other nutrients often:
at least 3 times a day, with 2-3 snacks during the day. Although the child is still
growing rapidly, the rate of growth is slower than in the first 12 months of life.
At the end of the third year of age, girls and boys will have achieved about 50 per
cent of their adult height. Both girls and boys grow at approximately the same
rate until they reach puberty and they need the same amount of food and have
the same nutrient needs. Very active children of either sex may need slightly more
food to meet their energy needs than less active children.
School aged children who are hungry or have poor diets are likely
to grow slowly, have little energy to study, play or do physical work;
they do not concentrate or perform as well in school as they could.
Because hungry children cannot learn well, they should all have three good meals
each day and nutritious snacks, at school and at home, in between meals. It is
important for children to have a nutritious meal before going to school, especially
if they have to walk long distances to get there. A meal and nutrient-rich snacks
while at school help keep up their energy. If schools do not provide meals or
snacks, children should take food from home to eat at school. Whether these
meals and snacks are provided by the family or by the school, it is important to
include a variety of the different foods necessary for children’s nutritional needs.
Early food experiences may have important effects on food likes and dislikes and
eating patterns in later life.
MATERIALS
Fact sheet Nutrition of children 6 months – 2 years
Work sheet Start the day right
Work sheet Colourful lunch bags
TO THINK
ABOUT
WHILE
READING
What are the
special nutritional
needs of children
2 to 10 years old?
How often
do children
this age need
to eat?
EATING WELL FOR GOOD HEALTH
Lesson 6
Meeting
nutritional needs
throughout life
Topic 3
How to
eat well for
good health
150
Part 3
Nutritional needs
of children
2–10 years
ACTIVITIES
Start the day right
Discuss why it is important for children to have a nutritious meal before going
to school.
How can families make sure children eat a good breakfast in the morning?
What breakfast foods are served to children in your community?
Are they nutritious, quick and easy to eat in the morning?
Prepare a sheet of paper with the word ‘BREAKFAST’ written in a vertical
column or print out the work sheet Start the day right. List the foods that are
good breakfast foods for children in your area and write them down next to the
corresponding letter.

Colourful lunch bags
Print out or draw a chart with five columns and the headings as shown on the
Work sheet Colourful lunch bags. Fill in each column with nutritious and healthy
foods and snacks that can be taken to school and eaten during the break. If you
have younger brothers, sisters or friends, choose the foods to write in the chart
together with them. Tell them that each day they should try to pack for school one
item from at least three different colour groups. Remind them that they helped
make the selection and will be eating foods they chose themselves!
Nutritional needs of children
2–10 years old
P Children have high energy needs but small stomachs
and need to eat at least three good meals a day with
healthy snacks in between.
P Girls and boys this age need the same amount of food
and have the same nutrient needs.
P Schoolchildren who are hungry cannot concentrate and
learn well. Their day should start with a nutritious meal
before going to school.
P It is very important to include a variety of different
foods in children’s meals in order to meet all of their
nutritional needs.
KEY POINTS
Review these four key points
to remember about a healthy diet
for children under ten. See if your
knowledge has improved and share it
with people who are responsible for
preparing foods, meals and snacks for
children in your family
KEY PO
EATING WELL FOR GOOD HEALTH
Lesson 6
Meeting
nutritional needs
throughout life
Topic 3
How to
eat well for
good health
151
Part 4
Nutritional needs of adolescents
(11–17 years old)
READING
The period of adolescence is a time of very rapid growth and high
demands for nutrients and energy. The rapid growth period starts at the
age of 10 or 11 for girls and at the age of 12 or 13 for boys and continues for
about 2.5 years. Adolescents need high intakes of calories, vitamins and minerals,
especially iron, calcium, vitamins A, C and D. During this time, boys and girls
begin to reach puberty (gaining sex characteristics to mature into men and
women) and nutritional needs start to differ, although good nutrition is essential
for both sexes to grow into healthy adults.
It is important for adolescents to select their foods carefully to
ensure that their nutrient and calorie needs are met. Sometimes the
workload of adolescent girls and boys increases, as they begin to have greater
responsibilities for carrying out household tasks and additional jobs to help the
family. When this is the case, their needs for energy (calories) for the additional
work they are doing, along with their needs for growth, will have to be met. Some
adolescents, however, become less physically active and have to meet their nutrient
needs without eating more calories than they need to maintain a healthy body
weight.
Adolescence is a time to reinforce good food habits and establish
regular meal patterns. Dietary habits and food preferences are developed in
childhood and particularly in adolescence. As they become more independent,
many adolescents begin to have more meals away from the family, often resulting
in poor food choices, skipped meals, increased snacking instead of regular,
balanced meals and lower vitamin and mineral intake at a time when good
nutrition is especially important. Adolescents also tend to follow food fads and
slimming diets which do not meet all of their nutritional needs. It is important
at this age to eat a variety of foods, including carbohydrates, plentiful fruits and
vegetables, daily protein and dairy foods or other foods containing calcium and to
avoid excess fat and sugar.
TO THINK
ABOUT
WHILE
READING
What
nutritional needs
do adolescents
have?
Why do
adolescent girls
have special
food and nutrition
needs?
What is
a good diet for
adolescent boys?
r'' Lesson 9 Achieving good body size and weight and
Lesson 10 Keeping fit and active.
r
EATING WELL FOR GOOD HEALTH
Lesson 6
Meeting
nutritional needs
throughout life
Topic 3
How to
eat well for
good health
152
Part 4
Nutritional needs
of adolescents
(11–17 years old)
Adolescent girls
Special attention should be given to adolescent girls, who need to
be well-nourished for their own immediate development and for
the future nutritional demands of childbearing. Adolescence is a critical
time for young women, building the foundation for successful reproduction and
a healthy adulthood and later life. Young women must enter adulthood with good
nutritional stores to remain strong and healthy throughout their child-bearing
years and into old age. Good nutrition is especially important for adolescent girls
to meet future needs of pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Adolescence is also the time that the skeletal system builds its
strong foundation of calcium stores. If the calcium stores in the bones are
not sufficient entering into the reproductive years, bones can become weak with
successive pregnancies, leading to broken bones and disability in later years (a
condition called osteoporosis). Increasing calcium consumption by eating a diet
rich in dairy foods and leafy green vegetables will help meet the increased needs of
adolescents for calcium.
Because of the demands of growth, as well as blood loss with
menstruation, the requirement for iron among adolescent girls is
very high. It is important for girls to increase their consumption of iron-rich
foods, such as red meats, fish, poultry and legumes, to help prevent anaemia
resulting from iron deficiency. Adolescent girls who are anaemic and may not
be eating a sufficient quantity of iron-rich foods to meet their needs may be
advised, under the guidance of a doctor or other health professional, to take iron
supplements.
Early pregnancies can be harmful to the health of girls who,
themselves, are still growing. Young girls’ bodies are still developing and
usually are not ready to support the extra burden of pregnancy and childbirth.
Special care must be taken during adolescent pregnancy to insure that the young
mother receives sufficient food for her own increased needs, as well as for the
needs of the unborn baby.
Adolescent boys
Adolescent boys have different needs from adolescent girls
because their bodies are maturing differently and at a different
rate. A growth spurt happens for both sexes during adolescence, but typically
boys’ rates of growth are more rapid. Much of the adult height and muscle mass
is gained during adolescence. Increased growth and activity increases the need for
certain nutrients and energy. Boys may need even more calories during this period
to support this growth, especially if their physical activity level increases. Protein
foods, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, nuts or seeds and legumes 
EATING WELL FOR GOOD HEALTH
Lesson 6
Meeting
nutritional needs
throughout life
Topic 3
How to
eat well for
good health
153
Part 4
Nutritional needs
of adolescents
(11–17 years old)
are all foods that supply high protein needed for additional growth in height and
muscle mass during adolescence. While boys do not have the very high need for
iron that adolescent girls have, the tissue growth and increased blood volume
for boys does increase their need for iron which can be met by increased meat
and other iron-rich foods. Calcium needs are also increased because of the rapid
bone growth during adolescence and additional dairy products and green leafy
vegetables can help meet these needs.
MATERIALS
Fact sheet Nutrition for school-age children
Work sheet My food diary
Ask yourself work sheet How good is your diet?
Work sheet My meal analysis
Work sheet Help Andrew pack his lunch
ACTIVITIES
My food diary
Keep track of what you eat and drink for three days by filling in the work sheet
My food diary. When you have completed it, use the questions to analyse your
diet and eating habits.
My meal analysis
Choose one typical midday or evening meal and analyse it in more detail. Make
a list of all the ingredients that make up each dish of this meal (for example,
potatoes, beans, beef, spinach, herbs, spices, fats, oils), write each of them on cards
and stick the cards on the Work sheet in the place where you think it belongs.
Discuss:
P Is the meal healthy and varied?
P Which different nutrients did you get from this meal?
P Does it provide a variety of fruit and vegetables?
P Are there too many foods rich in carbohydrates? protein? fats?
P Are there too few foods rich in carbohydrates? protein? fats?
r'' the Fact sheets in Lessons 4 and Lesson 5 for more information on
rthe macro and micronutrients, their functions and good food sources.
EATING WELL FOR GOOD HEALTH
Lesson 6
Meeting
nutritional needs
throughout life
Topic 3
How to
eat well for
good health
154
Part 4
Nutritional needs
of adolescents
(11–17 years old)
Plan a cooking contest with your friends
Ask each of your friends to cook a healthy dish at home and to bring it to your
Healthy eating contest. The participants should present the ingredients and the
nutritional value of their dishes and set them out to be judged on taste, appearance
and dietary value. Award the winner with a prize (a recipe book) and have a party.
Help Andrew pack his lunch
Teenagers are often very busy with school, sports and active social lives and are
not always able to sit down for three meals a day. This student’s school does not
provide food for lunch, so he usually gets something high in energy and quick to
eat. Go to the Work sheet and help Andrew start bringing a healthy lunch from
home by planning his packed lunches for a week.
Nutritional needs of adolescent boys
and girls (11–17 years old)
P Adolescence is a time of very rapid growth and high
demands for nutrients and energy as the body matures
into adulthood.
P It is a time to reinforce good food choices and eating
habits and establish regular meal patterns. It is important
to choose foods rich in all the nutrients, and especially
iron, calcium, vitamins A, C and D.
P Adolescent girls need to eat well for their own immediate
development and for future motherhood. They especially
need to eat foods rich in iron to meet their very high iron
needs due to rapid growth and blood loss.
P Adolescent boys mature differently from girls and may
need more calories and protein foods, such as meat, fish,
poultry, eggs, dairy products, nuts and legumes.
KEY POINTS
Review these four key points
to remember about a healthy diet for
adolescents.
See if your knowledge has improved
and share it with adolescent friends
and family members.
KEY P
EATING WELL FOR GOOD HEALTH
Lesson 6
Meeting
nutritional needs
throughout life
Topic 3
How to
eat well for
good health
155
Part 5
Nutritional needs during illness
READING
Eating well is especially important during illness to help the body
recover and regain health. When people are ill, their need for certain nutrients
is even greater to help them keep alive, fight infections and replace the nutrients
lost through illness. Sick people often have little or no desire to eat, but eating is
especially important, because of increased needs to fight infection and to replace
nutrients that may be lost. During episodes of diarrhoea and vomiting, up to half
the food taken in and much water can be lost. If sick people do not eat to meet
their energy and nutrient needs, their body may start to use up their own body fat,
muscles and other tissues; they will lose weight and become undernourished. People
who are ill or recovering from illness need a diet that is appealing, particularly rich in
micronutrients and protein and small, frequent meals.
Children and adults who are ill need to be encouraged to eat and
drink, even if they have little desire to eat. They should be offered small
amounts of a variety of foods frequently. Liquids, such as clean water (boiled,
if necessary), fruit juices, coconut water, soups, broths and watery porridges
are especially important to replace fluids lost in fever, diarrhoea and vomiting.
Breastfed children who have diarrhoea need to be breastfed frequently. When
recovering from being sick, people need to eat more to regain lost weight and they
need to eat more nutrient-rich foods to replace lost vitamins and minerals.
It is especially important for people with HIV/AIDS to have well
balanced diets. While good nutrition cannot cure AIDS or prevent HIV
infection, it can help to maintain and improve the nutritional status of people with
HIV/AIDS. Improved nutritional status will help them to remain more active,
healthy and productive and improve their quality of life. In people infected with the
HIV virus, the body’s immune system has to work harder to fight infection and this
increases the need for energy and nutrients. Other infections and fever also increase
the body’s demand for food and reduces the body’s ability to absorb the nutrients
in food. The amount of food that people with HIV eat is often affected by reduced
appetite, sore mouth, nausea, vomiting, tiredness, depression and lack of money.
However, it is particularly important for people with HIV to have a healthy and
balanced diet in order to meet their increased protein and energy requirements and
maintain their nutritional status. People who are infected with HIV have to eat more
to meet these extra energy and nutrient needs, which will increase even more as the
HIV/AIDS symptoms develop. Children with HIV/AIDS may need 50-100 percent
more energy than non-infected children.
TO THINK
ABOUT
WHILE
READING
Why is it important
to eat well
during illness?
What kinds
of foods are
especially good
during illness?
How can people
be helped
to eat well
during illness?
EATING WELL FOR GOOD HEALTH
Lesson 6
Meeting
nutritional needs
throughout life
Topic 3
How to
eat well for
good health
156
Part 5
Nutritional needs
during illness
MATERIALS
Fact sheet Good nutrition and HIV/AIDS
Match it work sheet Feeding sick people
ACTIVITIES
Special needs during illness
Discuss the special nutritional needs during illness. Remember the last time that
you were at home sick in bed.
P Did you feel like eating?
P Did someone encourage and help you to eat and drink?
P Were the foods you ate different from your usual diet?
P If yes, how were they different?
P What foods are especially good to eat during illness?
P What foods are more appealing to eat during illness?
Go to the hospital
Invite a dietician from a local hospital or clinic to talk about the special nutritional
needs and diets of people who are sick or recovering or go to the hospital yourself
to talk to the dietician.
Feeding sick people
Take a quick matching exercise to test your understanding of the special
nutritional needs during illness.
Eating well during illness
P People who are ill should eat well to help the body recover, fight
infections, replace lost nutrients and regain lost weight.
P People who are ill or recovering from illness need a diet that is appealing,
particularly rich in micronutrients and protein and small, frequent meals.
Liquids are especially important to replace fluids lost in fever, diarrhoea
and vomiting.
P Good nutrition can improve health and the quality of life of people with
HIV/AIDS, helping them remain more active, healthy and productive.
KEY POINTS
Review these
three key points
to remember about
how to eat well during
illness.
See if your knowledge
has improved and try
to apply it to yourself
when you are sick
and to other family
members.
OINT
EATING WELL FOR GOOD HEALTH
Lesson 6
Meeting
nutritional needs
throughout life
Topic 3
How to
eat well for
good health
157
TO THINK
ABOUT
WHILE
READING
What are
the food and
nutritional needs
in older age?
What are
good dietary
habits
in older age?
Part 6
Nutritional needs of
older people
READING
Good nutrition during older age can increase a person’s ability to
continue to be an active, healthy member of the community.
While older people tend to eat less, and may need to eat less (fewer calories)
if their activity levels decrease, their vitamin and mineral needs may stay the
same or even increase if the body absorbs them less efficiently. The need for
vitamin D and calcium may actually increase during older age to help reduce
the loss of calcium from the bones. Other nutrients, including especially protein,
need to be provided in adequate amounts to promote growth and repair of tissue
and protect against infection. For older people, eating foods high in fibre can help
the digestive system, and maintaining adequate intake of liquids is important,
as the skin loses its ability to keep in moisture and protect against dehydration.
Foods should include a wide variety of grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and
milk products.
Food intake may be affected by some of the body changes that
can accompany aging. Illness, loss of taste, smell and thirst sensation can
reduce appetite; poor vision may make foods look different; swallowing may be
difficult because of a decrease in saliva or because of decreased muscle tone; loss
of teeth can make chewing difficult; stomach and intestinal disorders can lead to
digestive problems. Eating may also decrease because of difficulty in purchasing,
growing and preparing food, dependence on other people, giving food to
other family members, and sometimes loneliness and depression. All of these
factors, and any other health problems they may have, may affect the nutritional
well-being of older people. Special efforts may need to be made to prepare foods
that provide adequate energy, vitamins and minerals and are appealing, easy to
eat and digest.
As in all of the life stages, in older age, dietary habits should
match activity levels. Older people with limited food intake need to consume
nutrient-dense, high energy foods. Older people who are unable to be active, or
who decrease their activity, are at risk of becoming overweight if their food intake 
EATING WELL FOR GOOD HEALTH
Lesson 6
Meeting
nutritional needs
throughout life
Topic 3
How to
eat well for
good health
158
Part 6
Nutritional needs of
older people
remains unchanged. Less active older adults need to meet their nutrient needs,
while eating fewer high energy-containing foods. Those who continue to be very
active need to eat adequately to maintain their ideal body weight.
MATERIALS
Ask yourself work sheet Keeping healthy in older age
Answer work sheet Keeping healthy in older age
ACTIVITIES
Helping older people eat well
Read about Grandma Susan, Grandma Ana and Grandpa Jacob on the Ask
yourself work sheet Keeping healthy in older age. Provide some good general
nutrition advice and recommendations for them. If you are working as a class, you
can split into three groups. Use the Answer work sheet to check your advice.
Helping an elderly friend
Group activity
Your elderly friend seems depressed, doesn’t go out, and seems to be losing weight.
What questions would you ask her to understand her health and nutritional
status and determine if she needs additional help and support? Divide into pairs
and role-play the situation. You can come up with your own questions or use the
following questions:
P Are you eating enough?
P How many meals a day do you eat?
P How much milk, eggs or meat (protein foods) do you eat a day?
P How many fruits and vegetables do you eat a day?
P Why aren’t you eating more?
P Are you having difficulty chewing foods?
P How are you getting your food shopping done?
P Can you participate in any food delivery programmes?
P Is there anybody who can help you cook and do some housework?
EATING WELL FOR GOOD HEALTH
Lesson 6
Meeting
nutritional needs
throughout life
Topic 3
How to
eat well for
good health
159
Part 6
Nutritional needs of
older people
Nutrition during older age
P Good nutrition during older age can increase a
person’s ability to continue to be an active, healthy
member of the family and community.
P The vitamin and mineral needs during older age
may stay the same or even increase, especially for
vitamin D and calcium. A good diet for older
people should provide all the necessary nutrients
and be appealing, easy to eat and digest.
P The food intake of older people should match
their activity levels. Less active older people should
eat less high-energy food to avoid becoming
overweight and those who are more active need to
eat well to maintain a healthy body weight.

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