Hyderabad: We are what we are because of the food that we eat. Right nutrition at all ages plays an important role in keeping a person fit. Nutritionists say that choosing the right foods will help us live a healthy life and save us from the early advent of lifestyle diseases.
Eat as much is required by the body and burn it out to avoid any excess accumulation in the body. All foods which look and taste good may not necessarily be of much use. Instead,their excess intake can be harmful. Eat natural foods, fruits and whole grains to ensure that the body has the right mix that keeps you energised.
‘Teenagers must choose the right food’
Eating habits among teenagers is quite often influenced by peer pressure. Junk food often ends up as the trendiest type of food on their list.
Madhurima Sinha, senior nutritionist at Care Hospitals, explains, “Educating children on the foods that influence their health must be a part of school and college curriculum. This is even more crucial for teenagers as their food intake is high, to keep up with their energy levels. Also, there is a strong urge to experiment with foods, which is good and must be encouraged but they should know how to decide what is good for them and what must be avoided.
Food-myths among teenagers which should be avoided
* Skipping breakfast is good for weight reduction
* Having 2-3 large meals is good
* Any quantity of vegetable oil can be used as its cholesterol-free
* Wheat products can be taken in unlimited quantity
* Zero-fat diet is good
* Only fruit and vegetable-based diet is good
Some must-follow guidelines
* Eat a balanced diet of fruits, nuts, vegetables and whole grains
* Eat to your heart’s content but also exercise
* Consume food at the right time.
* Sleep well for a healthy body
‘Do not depend too much on supplements’
The best nutrients can be acquired from food and not from supplements. Sadly, most middle-aged people, due to lack of time, hectic work life and also sheer lack of interest, are not willing to pay the required attention that is due to their food. As a result, some of them end up depending on vitamin supplements for their daily intake.
M. Gayathri, dietician at Apollo Hospitals, says, “Instead of fruit juices, choose whole fruits. Instead of refined foods like maida and rava, use whole wheat flour, broken wheat, porridge and oats. Supplements are only required under specific conditions, not otherwise.”
It is important to understand that foods help build immunity. Gayathri explains, “A strong immune system helps protect the body from diseases. During middle-age one has to work towards building endurance and hence foods which protect the body must be consumed.”
Tips for a healthy middle-age
* Have 5-6 small, frequent meals instead of three large meals
* Don’t eat while watching TV or chatting online
* Chew slowly as it helps in digestion
* Eat more of whole pulses, beans like rajma, chole, channa
* Instead of aerated drinks, squashes, sherbets, choose fresh lemon juice, coconut water, butter milk or veg soup
* Use low-fat milk
* Reduce intake of mutton, beef and organ meats; go for fish and chicken
‘Inculcate right eating habits since childhood’
Parents are role models for children and they tend to imitate their food preferences, aversions and also habits. So to develop the right food habits in children, parents must begin from childhood, between age three to five. But with the changing scenario, home food has taken a huge beating.
K. Sunitha Premalatha, chief dietician at Yashoda Hospital, explains, “Home foods have the right quantity and proportion of nutrients, hence young mothers must opt for home foods. Healthy foods like whole grains, cereals, pulses, legumes, vegetables, fruits, milk and milk products must be given to children. Lean meat, eggs, nuts, fats and oil provide energy to build, maintain and repair tissues and regulate body’s metabolic process.”
A young mother must know that too much of sugar, sweetened beverages, added sugar desserts, high-fatty or salty foods are not good for children. “Mothers are faced with a tough task when people they meet gift sweets or chocolates to children without realising the damage it does to a child,” explains Premlatha.
In the West, chocolates for children are now given by parents only once in a week to avoid the rising problems of cavities, obesity and also other metabolic abnormalities.
In the Indian scenario, experts are now urging to cut down on sugars for children as they can lead to weight-gain and insulin-resistance.