KOCHI: Malnutrition is quite common among pregnant women, infants, children, and adolescents. The imbalance of nutrients can cause two types of malnutrition cases- undernutrition and obesity. People often connect malnutrition with just undernutrition, in urban areas the most common problem that is found among the adult population is obesity. Intake of high carbohydrates, fat and calorie-dense food can cause malnutrition.
“In the recent National Family Health Survey conducted in Kerala, women aged between 15 to 59 years, 40 per cent of the urban population comes under the obese category and in rural areas, the figure is 36 per cent. In men, 40 per cent under obese in urban areas, and 33 per cent in rural areas. Underweight is found common in 9.7 per cent of the urban population and 10.4 per cent in rural areas,” says Uma Kalyani, registered dietitian and yoga trainer.
In both the areas, the number of people reported under obese and undernutrition category is kind of close. Cases of obesity is common in urban areas, due to the consumption of fast, high-calorie food and lack of physical exercise. “In rural areas, the figures are on the rise may be due to the intake of carbohydrate-rich grain food., and low intake of vegetables. In general, Keralites prefer rice, and the quantity taken will always be more than the veggies. Absence of essential nutrients from vegetables, and intake of more carbohydrates ultimately will lead to obesity/overweight,” adds Uma.
Following a healthy plate is essential for a balanced diet. Filling half of the plate with veggies and the quarter platewith whole grains can help one achieve a balanced amount of nutrients. “In earlier days, rice consumption was more, but that didn’t cause obesity as people were more engaged in physical activities, with today’s lifestyle coupled with the same eating style can pave way for several health conditions. It is vital to follow a healthy plate diet,” says Uma.
Get the basics right
A proper food pattern has to be followed right from the infant stage. This year as part of nutrition month, the central government has announced to conduct a drive for the identification of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), commonly found in kids under 5 years. In the first six months, mothers should do exclusive breastfeeding. During weaning, gradually one can add liquid diet, semi-solid,. slowly to solid items as well. “By the age of 1, kids should be encouraged to have adult-like food for three times in a day. In addition, continue breastfeeding till 2 years of age. This can help infants have the required amount of weight according to their age,” shares Uma.
Irrespective of age it is important to include 5 food groups in your diet to tackle the cases of malnutrition. The diet should be inclusive of carbohydrates, protein ( pulses, dal, non-veg), consume fruits and also add coloured vegetables, Milk and milk products and lastly, minimal intake of sugar and fat.
Food has to be consumed to nourish both body and mind. “Mindful eating is a training process for the mind,” adds Uma. Being cautious doesn’t have to be imposing strict rules on oneself. “When we eat, make sure to use all the five senses. Feel the texture of the food, smell the aroma, adding colour veggies makes the diet appealing to eyes, and chew the food at least 10 to 12 times to enable proper digestion and to prevent over-eating. By doing so, by being present at the moment, we will be able to understand if the diet was adequate or not, which will help us to avoid unnecessary snacking.
Yoga and nutrition
This year, yoga is also added along with nutrition. “There are people who consume mindlessly when stressed or bored. Avoid emotional eating. Indulging in yoga or other meditative practice can help one find calmness and declutter the mind, which can bring in awareness and find solutions to the root cause of stress, rather than eating to distract,” says Uma.
Registered Dietitian and Yoga Trainer,Founder and Director of Umasnutriyoga, Thiruvananthapuram