Categorisation of food

Food can be grouped in a variety of ways. This helps when we need to identify food. It also helps when planning menus. Instead of the nutritionist or dietician telling you to take foods like banana, orange, watermelon, blah, blah blah, he simply tells you, “hey man, you need to take more fruits” – Now that’s simple.

BY SOURCE
Most food we eat from natural sources are either from plants or animals. You know those guys who restrict their food to plant sources but do not eat flesh? Those are the vegetarians. Most people however like to mix things up.

BY FUNCTION
Here, foods are grouped as Warmers (provide heat for the body), Energizers (Give energy – mostly carbohydrate based), Body builders (Protein based) and Body protectors (Mostly fruits and vegetables) and regulators.

BY NUTRIENT COMPOSITION
Now, this is the common method foods are categorised into.

  • Carbohydrates
  • Proteins
  • Lipids
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins
  • Water

Well, some do not consider water being here, unfortunately, I do.

BY GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION
Here in Ghana, we use the following categorisation of food

  • Cereals and grains
  • Starchy roots and plantain
  • Animals and animal products
  • Beans, nuts and oil seeds
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Fats and oils

However, somewhere else, say the USA, they will mostly consider things this way:

  • Milk and milk products
  • Meat and meat products
  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Breads, cereals and grains

BY CULTURE

  • Cultural super foods – mostly staple foods
  • Body image foods – These foods are associated with physical appearance of the consumer, say food that make you slim when you eat it
  • Prestige foods – Associated with the rich, rarely eaten
  • Sympathetic magic food – these has supernatural powers (so thinks the believers). For example, here in Ghana, one tribe believes when you eat the head of a cat, you will not die outside you home.
  • Physiological group foods – Food belonging to this group are either restricted or encouraged for a person of a particular physiological group. For example, some people discourage consumption of egg by pregnant women because it will cause their children to become thieves when born.

This list is however not exhuastive as there may be other categorisations. Drop some below if they are not listed.

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