Skip to content Skip to cookie consent
Skip to content

Tools and guides

Why we need different foods

Discusses energy foods, building and repair foods, and protective foods

2005 Available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese

Pillars magazines on a desk

From: Pillars guides

Practical, discussion-based learning on community development for small groups

The food we eat has three main functions; to give us energy, to build and repair our bodies and to protect us from disease. Most foods have a mixture of nutrients. To keep healthy, we should eat a good mixture of foods each day.

  • Energy foods help us to work and keep active. These are staple foods such as maize, rice and plantain, fats such as vegetable oil and animal fat, and sugar. Fats and sugars are only needed in small quantities for adults.

  • Building and repair foods help children grow and repair our bodies. Examples are groundnuts, beans, lentils, milk, eggs and meat. Foods made from milk and any food containing bones that are eaten (such as small fish or pounded dried fish) are good sources of calcium, needed to build strong bones.

  • Protective foods contain vitamins and minerals, which help the body to work smoothly and give protection against illness. Most fruits and vegetables are protective foods. 

Clean drinking water is also important to maintain a healthy body. 


  • What kinds of foods are readily available in our local area? Do people eat a good mixture of staple foods, pulses, fats, fruit, vegetables, meat and fish? If not, consider why not?
  • How many different ways can you think of to add pulses, vegetables, oil and fruit to the staple foods eaten in our area?>
  • What kind of diet do young children in our community eat? Do they have plenty of opportunity to eat meals containing meat, milk products or pulses to help them grow strong, healthy bodies? Is there any way we could improve this?
  • Are enough ‘protective foods’ eaten on a daily basis in local households? How can people add more fruit and vegetables to their diet?
  • Why is clean drinking water important to keep our bodies healthy?

Similarly Tagged Content

Share this resource

If you found this resource useful, please share it with others so they can benefit too.

Get our email updates

Be the first to hear about our latest learning and resources

Sign up now - Get our email updates

Cookie preferences

Your privacy and peace of mind are important to us. We are committed to keeping your data safe. We only collect data from people for specific purposes and once that purpose has finished, we won’t hold on to the data.

For further information, including a full list of individual cookies, please see our privacy policy.

  • These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems.

  • These cookies allow us to measure and improve the performance of our site. All information these cookies collect is anonymous.

  • These allow for a more personalised experience. For example, they can remember the region you are in, as well as your accessibility settings.

  • These cookies help us to make our adverts personalised to you and allow us to measure the effectiveness of our campaigns.