According to the 2019 South African Child Gauge Report, child obesity continues to rise in South Africa. At least 13% of children under the age of five are obese, while 1 in 4 children is malnourished and has stunted growth.
Guarding against obesity does not mean that you have to diet: extreme dieting can cause problems if you don’t get the right kind and amounts of nutrients. Nutrition plays a major role in controlling obesity – healthy eating should become a lifestyle for the whole family.
Is nutrition about dieting? There is a difference between nutrition and diet:
“Diet” is the food that that you eat regularly. Whether you make good or bad choices, these make up your diet. Your diet may consist of processed and manufactured foods. You may eat a lot of fast food and packaged food. Examples of diet include vegetarian, vegan, ketogenic, etc.
“Nutrition” refers to the quality of food itself. It is the food our bodies need to function optimally. This includes carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats and fibre. We need these foods in a balanced quantity.
Nutrition and healthy eating:
Healthy eating is not about strict limitations, becoming unrealistically thin or depriving yourself of the foods you love. It is about feeling great, having more energy, improving health, and boosting your mood. The truth is that while some specific foods or nutrients have been shown to have a beneficial effort on mood, it is your
overall dietary pattern that is most important. It is all about eating foods that are as close as possible to the way nature made it.
Tips for good nutrition and healthy eating
- Grow your own food – picking produce from your own garden means your food is fresh and filled with nutrients needed in your body.
- Prepare more of your own meals – take charge of what you are eating. Eat fewer calories, avoid chemical additives.
- Eat breakfast, and eat smaller meals throughout the day – a healthy breakfast can jumpstart your metabolism, while eating small, healthy meals keep your energy up all day.
- Avoid eating late at night.
- Reduce intake of unhealthy food and replace them with healthy alternatives and limit the availability of unhealthy snacks at home.
- Add more fruits and vegetables (the recommended daily amount is at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables). Instead of eating processed snack foods, snack on vegetables such as carrots, snowpeas, cherry tomatoes, etc.
- Focus on how you feel after eating – the healthier the food the better you feel after a meal.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Control emotional eating and do not eat when you are not hungry.
- Enjoy your meals – make eating a special activity for the family.
Cooking and nutrition
Did you know that “food nutrition” and “cooking” are closely-related? Cooking is based on nutrition and nutrition needs to be achieved thorough cooking. Let’s look at cooking techniques:
• Steaming and boiling – these methods protect organic salts and minerals from being destroyed, but the appropriate amount of water is important and cooking time should be controlled.
• Frying – gives food a crisp and special taste, can kill bacteria in food, prolong storing time, and improve flavor. Temperature and frying time can destroy nutrients – vitamins can be lost. Fried foods also have a high fat content and cannot be easily digested (Tian, 2008). If people eat fried foods regularly, they are more likely to have obesity and other diseases.
• Roasting – the colour and flavor of food is better with roasting. However, oven temperature and baking time, if too long, can destroy nutrients. It is best to cover your food with tin foil so to preserve nutrients.
• Microwave cooking – quick cooking, efficient, pollution-free, and preserve nutrients. However, some studies suggest that microwave cooking could cause sugar caramelization, protein denaturation, and vitamins oxidation and destroy antioxidants, thus doing harm to human health
(Yanga et al., 2o11).
• Stir-fry – size and materials and cooking time can affect nutrients of food. It is best to stir-fry quickly by high temperature to preserve the original freshness and colour of the food, and reduce loss of nutrients.
• Blanching – can induce a bright colour, crisp and tender taste, easy to digest and good for absorbent of nutrients of food. Blanching time must be controlled so that no vitamins are lost in the process.
• Stewing – can dissolve vitamins, inorganic salts, proteins, etc. and provide a nutritious soup.
Are you a healthy eating fanatic?
Can you share your healthy cooking tips or recipe? With pictures to:
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