Madam Naomi Ahortor, a Senior Nursing Officer in Public Health on Nutrition and Food Management, has said the human body needed essential nutritional substances to grow healthy.
Ms Ahortor said the human body needed animal and plant proteins, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, vitamins, minerals, fats and oil, and water, which the body could not manufacture on its own.
He made the remark at a sensitisation event organised by the Family Strengthening Programme of the SOS Children’s Villages – Ghana for parents at Mataheko in the Ningo/Prampram District of the Greater Accra Region.
She took the participants through the ‘Four (4) Star Diet’, which are staples (1 star), legumes (2 star), vitamin (a rich fruits and vegetables (3 star) and animal source (4 star).
Ms Ahortor said a “four star” diet is a new method of making sure that the meals were balanced and contained food from all the food groups.
She said further that food habits represented the ways in which individuals or groups of people select, prepare, and consume what is generally available to them, which is determined by the system of food production, distribution, processing and storage.
She said proteins built the body, repaired damaged tissues and provided maintenance while carbohydrates provided energy and warmth.
“The mineral forms bones and teeth, critical in other body processes and protect us from diseases. It gives macro such as calcium, potassium phosphorus and sodium while the micro is iodine and iron,” Madam Ahortor said.
She said fats and oil provided energy and warmth through the fats soluble vitamins and the vitamins protected the body from diseases.
She said, for example, that water soluble and fat soluble and to prepare hygienic food people must wash their hands with soap and clean water, wear clean cloth when cooking and to keep their kitchen clean and tidy.
Ms Ahortor advised sick people not to cook, and also persons should not cook with an uncovered head and cooking should not be done in a closed space with no chimney/vent to take off smoke and let in fresh air.
She also advised that clean utensils be used in cooking, and that food must be in amounts that satisfy the family.
She said always a bucket of water or sand must be kept in the cooking area for fire safety.
“Do not leave food/ingredients unpacked or open in the kitchen, don’t allow your children into the cooking area. Those who are learning to prepare meals must have adult supervision,” she said.
Ms Ahortor said food must be handled with care and kept in a clean, dry and well ventilated store room while ensuring that food commodities were kept on the pallet.
“Do not store perishable foods unless proper storage facilities are available; don’t leave food commodities in open containers and do not keep food items with non-food items.
“Endeavour to leave a space between food stocks and the wall, consume food before they expire and don’t allow sick people to enter the storage area and don’t make fires in and around the store room,” the nutritionist said.
She called on parents to pay attention to their infants’ appetite and avoid overfeeding them, adding that infants need salt, fat and sugar in moderation and that they should choose fruits, vegetables and grains and desist from high fibre diet.
“Choose food containing iron, zinc and calcium,” Ms Ahortor said.