Men also need healthy, balanced diets
Like everyone else, men need good meals so they are healthy and active.
However, men are usually the better nourished members of the family because:
they often have more control over the family cash and traditionally may expect and get the biggest and best share of a family meal. For example, they may get a bigger share of meat than women and children;
they do not have the additional nutritional needs that women have because of menstruation, pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Appendix 2, Table 4, shows that mens energy needs are higher than womens needs, especially if they are doing heavy physical work. But men need less iron than women and girls of reproductive age. So they need less iron-rich food (e.g. meat or liver) than women.
Even so, some men are at risk of undernutrition. The reasons may be that:
they live alone (e.g. migrant and seasonal workers) and have little cash;
they do not know how to shop and cook;
they are single fathers caring for several children;
the family is very poor or there are severe food shortages;
the man is ill, or is an alcoholic or on drugs.
Men living alone or who are sole caregivers for children may need advice on how to buy good-value foods (see Topic 2, page 27) and how to make good meals (see Topic 3).They may need recipes that are easy to prepare and advice on food hygiene. Men who are HIV+ need counselling on how to eat well and prevent weight loss (see Topic 10, page 85).
An increasing number of men (and women) need advice on how to prevent obesity or how to lose weight (see Box 19, page 94).
Eating well helps old people stay healthy and active longer
Old people who eat healthy, balanced diets are likely to stay healthier and active longer. The energy needs of older people are usually less than those of younger people but they need at least the same amounts of protein and micronutrients (see Appendix 2, Table 4).
Old people may have small appetites, so they need nutrient-rich meals
People tend to eat less as they grow older. It is particularly important that old people choose foods that are nutrient-rich so they can get enough nutrients from a smaller amount of food.
Figure 12. Helping old people to eat well
Some old people do not eat enough and so become thin and anaemic because they:
may have few teeth or sore gums, or are unhappy, lonely or sick;
are poor or disabled and have no one to help them grow, buy or prepare enough food;
live in institutions that provide poor meals;
care for many grandchildren on little money.
Some old people are overweight or obese also because they are unable to be active.
Old people may be able to eat better and be better nourished if you:
discuss with them how to make easy-to-cook and easy-to-eat meals using a variety of nutrient-rich foods that are good value for money;
encourage them to take as much exercise as possible. Exercise improves the appetite and helps to keep people healthier and happier, and it helps to prevent overweight and obesity;
help them get treatment for sore gums and other conditions that reduce the appetite;
ask people who send money to elderly relatives living alone to arrange for someone to help them to buy and prepare good meals if necessary;
encourage other people in the community to help needy, lonely old people to cultivate home gardens, shop and cook;
encourage community income-generating activities that give old people the chance to earn money and feel useful, or that raise money to buy nutritious foods for them;
advise relatives and people in charge of institutions how to feed old people. For example by:
- giving small, frequent, good mixed meals to stimulate poor appetites;
- giving soft foods if teeth are missing or gums are sore;
- preparing food hygienically to avoid diarrhoea and other infections that may make old people seriously ill.
SHARING THIS INFORMATION
Before sharing this information with families, you may need to:
1. Find out. What and where men eat. Whether any groups of men are at risk of undernutrition. If so, why and what advice they need. What old people eat. Whether many old people are undernourished. If so, why. What advice is needed by old people and their relatives.
2. Prioritize. Decide which information is most important to share with groups or individual families.
3. Decide whom to reach. For example: men and old people; people who cook and care for men and old people.
4. Choose communication methods. For example: discussions, recipes and cooking demonstrations, at community and farmers group meetings and at old peoples homes.
Examples of questions to start a discussion
(choose only one or two questions that deal with the information families need most)
Why are most men well fed? Are some men undernourished? If so, why?
What advice do undernourished men or men who are sole caregivers for children need? How can we help them?
Why is it important for old people to eat nutrient-rich foods and have healthy, balanced diets?
Are some of our old people undernourished? If so, why?
How can we improve the diets of old people? How can old people help themselves?
How can we help old people who are caring for many children?