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Nutritious meals through Pinggang Pinoy

In an effort to combat malnutrition and nutrient deficiency, the Department of Science and Technology’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) developed a scientifically proven yet accessible way to guide Filipino families in their meals. DOST named this nutrition tool Pinggang Pinoy and it aims to help aid in the preparation of food on a per meal level. It has also slowly started to trickle down into the smaller and further communities.

What is Pinggang Pinoy?

Developed by DOST-FNRI in 2014, the Pinggang Pinoy meal plan is essentially a nutrition tool with a simpler concept.

With the aim of creating a food guide that aligns with the nutritional food pyramid and that fits the eating habits of an average Filipino, the Pinggang Pinoy takes into consideration the normal consumption and available products for the average Filipino family.

Formative research results included suggestions like having a bahay kubo, an icon familiar to the Filipinos, represent the food guide. However, they ended up with the predominant theme suggestion of pinggan, which literally means food plate that all diners in the country are accustomed to. Pinggan is a daily kitchenware in the Filipino table.

The Pinggang Pinoy is intended to guide meal planners in preparing food that is proportional according to current nutritional guidelines for different age groups. It can also cover the standard nutritional requirement of Filipinos nationwide, as evidenced by the use of the Pinggang Pinoy in Davao del Norte. With this meal plan, the FNRI hopes to find a sustainable and accessible solution to malnutrition.

What is the Pinggang Pinoy meal plan?

The Pinggang or Platong Pinoy depicts a plate with color-coded portions representing the different food groups that should be on each plate. Divided into several sections, the meal plan gives Filipino families an easy to follow meal plan that can be easily adjusted, for any meal. It also takes into account the average body’s nutritional needs, which is composed of three food groups: Go, Glow, and Grow.

The three food groups are called Go, Grow and Glow because these terms describe the function of each food group in the body.

Go or energy-giving foods, such as rice, grains and other starches, provide energy to keep one going throughout the day.

Grow or body-building foods, such as meat, fish, dairy and eggs, provide the protein and minerals necessary for the growth and repair of tissues, muscles and bones.

Glow or body-regulating foods, such as fruits and vegetables, provide the vitamins and minerals to maintain healthy body functions, as well as fiber for healthy digestion.

Half of the plate is composed of “Glow” foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Vegetables represent a larger portion of this group than fruits because more vegetables are needed to get proper amounts of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Fruits are represented by a banana, and vegetables by malunggay leaves, both of which are abundant year round, fairly affordable and commonly consumed.

Grow foods like meat, milk and egg products, are represented by the popular tilapia fish that make up one-sixth of the plate.

The remainder of the plate is composed of “Go” foods like cereals, grains and starches, which are represented by a bowl of rice, the staple food of Filipinos.

Beside the plate is a glass of water to symbolize the importance of hydration by drinking plenty of water, along with a glass of milk daily. Consumption of sugary beverages should be moderate to minimal, as high intake can result in unhealthy weight gain and increased risk of dental caries and diabetes. The standard placemat for adults depicts a traditional brown woven buri placemat, making the tool even more uniquely Pinoy.

Who can benefit from the Pinggang Pinoy meal plan?

The Platong Pinoy plan is supposed to benefit anyone!

When it started out, the meal plan was released with only adults in mind. However, by 2015, DOST-FNRI expanded its research to include different groups. Today, the Pinggang Pinoy placemats vary in color, depending on the age group.

The icon for children 3 to 12 years old has a bright orange background to represent vitality, energy and youth. The Pinggang Pinoy for teens has a blue placemat to represent strength and coolness, while the red placemat for the elderly represents power and courage and stimulates appetite. There is even a green Pinggang Pinoy for pregnant and lactating women that represents fertility and new life.

Now, you can use the Pinggang Pinoy as a guide for you and your family’s meal plans. The best thing about it is that it can be tailored for your lifestyles. Thanks to its simple yet effective formula, you can easily fit it into your daily life with little to no changes at all.

Pinggang Pinoy in action

Goldilocks, one of the most popular food chains in the country, adapted the concept of Pinggang Pinoy through a meal called Sarap Pinggang Pinoy meal 1.  The meal contains Daing na Bangus with Ginisang Monggo, rice, a fruit cup and water. Goldilocks was supposed to launch this as a limited-edition meal but, due to positive feedback in sales, they made it a mainstay on their menu.  They even came up with another set called Sarap Pinggang Pinoy meal 2 consisting of Daing na Bangus, Pinakbet, rice, a fruit cup and water. The campaign Pinggang Pinoy has been around for almost four years, and, each year, it gains more following and support because more people are gaining awareness about the country’s crisis involving food shortage and malnutrition. The FNRI dubbed 2017 as the official Year of Pinggang Pinoy, claiming victory on its advocacy.

Meanwhile, Robinsons Supermarket also introduced a campaign to promote the cause of Pinggang Pinoy. In January this year, it launched “Eat the Rainbow”, where customers get to buy fruits and vegetables through colored bundles representing the colors of the rainbow. During Saturdays and Sundays, all the colored bundles are available, and customers who buy three bundles are given a Pinggang Pinoy eco bag. It ran for the whole month of January and, with the good reviews, the company will regularly feature Eat the Rainbow every January.  The FNRI sees its fight against malnutrition as a mission rather than a task. It continues to stand tall for 70 years now in addressing malnutrition through nutritional assessment, tools, guidelines and standards to serve the needs of nutrition and nutrition-related workers.

Dr. Milflor S. Gonzales and Ms. Marilou R. Galang, along with the whole staff of the FNRI, continue to spread the word of Pinggang Pinoy to Filipinos. Impact is long term, Gonzales said, but they remain positive of the change their campaign may bring to the improved nutritional status of the Philippines. They treat this as a positive challenge to everyone, and themselves as well, on bringing better health to each and everybody’s household.

Combating malnutrition, one Pinggang Pinoy at a time

Pinggang Pinoy is just one of the ways that the country has decided to combat nutrient deficiency and malnutrition. Because of its simplicity, versatility, and accessibility, the FNRI hope that families can adopt it into their daily routines. It also allows for nutrition to be more oriented towards the Filipino masses.

The program continues to make waves and hopefully, it can create a positive impact on Philippine nutrition on a larger scale.

For more information on food and nutrition, contact:  Dr. Mario V. Capanzana, director, Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI), Department of Science and Technology, General Santos Avenue, Bicutan, Taguig City; Telephone/Fax Nos: 837-2934 or 837-3164; Direct Line: 839-1839; DOST Trunk Line: 837-2071-82 local 2296 or 2284; e-mail: mvc@fnri.dost.gov.ph or at mar_v_c@yahoo.com; FNRI-DOST website: http://www.fnri.dost.gov.ph.  Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/FNRI.DOST or follow our Twitter account at twitter.com/FNRI_DOST. (DOST-FNRI S&T Media Service—ROSS HETTINGER/SALVADOR R. SERRANO)

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