Make sure to break up your meal plan into smaller portions for better health.

The latest buzz on eating habits is the size of your meal and how often you should eat during the day. There have been scientific reports which say that health is bettered when your day's requirements are divided into six small meals instead of three large meals. Imagine the amount of time spent in preparing, serving, eating, clearing and washing up six meals in one day. Who is going to bear this burden? Don't forget, these have to be planned, prepared, packed suitably, refrigerated and/or heated up.

The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for young persons in India, as per the ICMR are based on the requirements of individuals differing mainly for gender and activity:

Boys: 13 to 15 yrs is 2450 Kcals, 16 to 18 yrs i s 2640 Kcals.

Girls: 13 to 18yrs is 2060 Kcals.

Considering the above energy requirements, I have calculated for big and small meals. Youngsters with heavy physical activity like sports and athletics can step up their intake.

Boys 13 to 15 yrs, three big meals will be about 800 Kcals each. For 16 to 18 years, it'll be 850 Kcals each.

Boys 13 to 15 yrs, six small meals will be about 400 Kcals each. For 16 to 18 yrs, 440 Kcals each.

Girls 13 to 18 yrs, three big meals will be about 685 Kcals and six small meals 385 Kcals each.

For the sake of convenience, I have given below, big meals contributing 800 Kcals and small meals contributing 400 Kcals. Let us see menus which meet these specifications. Using the tables one can easily calculate approximately as to what would constitute a big or small meal. As the difference between the meals for young boys and girls is not too vast, I reiterate, that I am just providing plans of meals for 400 Kcals and for 800 Kcals.

It's all up to you; you can nibble at your food throughout the day or be a Bheema and gobble up your food at one go!

Twenty Sample Mini-Meals

1. Mixed vegetable soup (90 calories)

2. Baked beans on wholemeal toast (140 calories)

3. Raw carrot with dip (70 calories)

4. Small herb omelette (200 calories)

5. Tomato salad (30 calories)

6. Low fat yoghurt (70 calories)

7. Boiled egg with slice of bread (200 calories)

8. Raw apple (60 calories)

9. Salad sandwich on wholemeal bread (180 calories)

10. Slice of melon (15 calories)

11. Bowl of porridge (300 calories)

12. Corn on the cob (100 calories)

13. Vegetable pasta (230 calories)

14. Half a grapefruit (15 calories)

15. Bowl of cornflakes with soya milk (150 calories)

16. Fresh fruit salad (50 calories)

17. Spaghetti with tomato sauce (250 calories)

18. Baked potato with cottage cheese and pineapple (170 calories)

19. Grilled vegetable burger in bun (400 calories)

20. Two toasted muffins with honey (400 calories)

The author is Dean, Academy of Fitness Management, FitnessOne.