World Health Day was celebrated recently to raise awareness about the ongoing health issues that concern people across the world. The day is also used as an opportunity to spread awareness about the need for improved health and well-being across the global community.
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Promoting Health and Wellness with an expert session on Corporate Nutrition and Wellness
In line with the theme of this World health Day, initiated by the World Health Organisation, we invited Dr. Kalyani Singh to provide insights about healthy eating practices to foster wellness.
Tell us more about yourself
I am a Nutrition Consultant based in Bangalore and have worked for 27 years as a faculty in the Department of Food and Nutrition, Lady Irwin College, Delhi University. Prior to that, I worked as a Dietician at CMC Hospital, Vellore for more than 7 years.
I was a steering Committee member of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Supplementary Nutrition Program, for the Delhi Government (2007-11), and was a consultant at the National Centre for Excellence and Advanced Research on Diets, Lady Irwin College (2018) which comes under the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
What is the current scenario on eating behaviour?
A growing phenomenon witnessed across the world is the changing food habits with reduced physical activity and the increasing production and consumption of foods high in Fat, Salt and Sugar (HFSS foods).
Dr. Kalyani Singh
Former Faculty, Delhi University
The global burden of disease has dramatically shifted from communicable diseases to non-communicable diseases (NCD).
What is the significance of non-communicable diseases?
NCDs refer to many conditions which are chronic, lifestyle related and are likely to continue progressively, unless intervened. The World Health Organization has stated that non communicable diseases kill 41 million people each year and that India will become World Capital for Heart Disease, requiring interventional strategies to be put in place to reduce risk.
Overweight/obesity is the causative factor for several chronic NCDs including heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancers, highlighting the need for health lifestyle and eating practices.
What are some of the eating and behavioral practices that currently affect health?
Some of the practices are
- Substitution of millets by more prestigious and often highly polished cereals such as rice.
- Higher intake of cheap commercial vegetable oil (n6 fatty acid) and trans fats.
- Low fruits and vegetables intake.
- Increased intake of sugar and sweetened beverages.
- Significant reduction of physical activity leading to obesity.
What would constitute a healthy diet?
The essence of a healthy diet is that energy intake should balance energy expenditure, which means that you should eat as much as you can require to perform your daily activities.
Some of the salient features of a healthy diet are:
- Total fat should not exceed 30% of total energy to avoid weight gain
- Unsaturated fats found in fish, nuts, avocado, olive oil, sunflower oil or canola may be preferred over saturated fats
- Fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains like millets, oats, brown rice, provide vitamins and minerals
- Include at least 400 g of fruits and vegetables in the diet
- Trans fats found in processed foods, fast foods, snack foods, fried foods and bakery items should be avoided
- Limiting intake of sugars (sugar sweetened beverages, sugary snacks, etc) to less than 10% of energy
- Keeping salt intake to less than 5g per day preferably iodized salt, helps to prevent hypertension, reduces risk of heart diseases, stroke and Iodine deficiency disorders
What are some tips for weight loss?
Healthy eating practices should focus on healthy weight management as well. The focus should be on eating right to stay fit. Here are some tips to follow
- Increasing energy output by exercise, physical activity and reducing energy intake by sensible eating
- Understanding psychological cues to eating
- Prioritizing mindful eating
- Reading food labels and making healthy choices
- Smart food choices at different meals
Give us some insights about reading food labels
The most important aspect to choosing a package food product is not to let the claims on the front fool you!
- Read the first 3 ingredients as they make up the largest part of what you are eating
- If these include refined grains, any type of sugar or hydrogenated fats, it is unhealthy
- Instead choose items that have whole foods as the first 3 ingredients
Image Source: Label, FDA
- Look out for serving size. It is usually much smaller than what people eat
- Nutrients to get less of include saturated fat, Sodium, added sugar
- Nutrients to get more of include Dietary fiber, Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, Potassium
Don’t shop for food when you are hungry
- Decide on your menu, make a list and buy stuff
- Stock up on healthy ingredients like whole grains, legumes, cold pressed oils, fruits and veggies
- Buy less processed foods
- Look for low fat dairy, lean meat, chicken or fish, whole wheat breads
It is important to eat good, wholesome food that is rich in nutrients to lower the risk of nutritional diseases and reduce the risk of obesity and non-communicable diseases. Eat healthy to stay fit and happy.
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