Nutrition is an issue of survival, health and development for current and succeeding generations in India. It promises health and well being. According to WHO, “Nutrition is the intake of food, considered in relation to the body’s dietary needs”.
Undernutrition is often an invisible problem which seems to be higher in rural India. It is a known fact that an undernourished mother begets a baby with low birth weight. It jeopardizes a child’s survival, health, growth and development, and thereby slows down the national progress towards development goals.
Overnutrition, on the other hand is a curse of the modern world and globalization. Urban India is currently witnessing a rise in number of people who are obese. The urban population has started relying on convenient and processed foods that contain a large amount of trans-fat, sugars, and other unhealthy and artificial ingredients. Obesity is considered as a major predisposing factor for many health risks like cancers, diabetes, heart diseases and strokes.
“You are what you eat.”
Most of your body composition is determined by what you eat. Healthy food combined with a regular exercise is the foundation for good health. Healthy children grow up to better IQ and adequate nutrition makes them more productive while, poor nutrition can lead to reduced immunity, increased vulnerability to disease, impaired physical and mental development, and reduced productivity. Obese children grow up to suffer from mood swings, depression, hormonal imbalances, risks of asthma, diabetes, and heart problems.
Having a healthy diet is no rocket science, but it sometimes seems easier said than done. Junk foods can be tempting as they are easy to procure or prepare and satisfies the craving. But a little knowledge and planning is all that is required for a good start to a healthy lifestyle.
For a balanced diet just slide down a ‘Food Pyramid’
The Food Pyramid demonstrates the different food groups and its quantity to be taken for a wholesome balanced diet. It converts healthy eating into a pleasurable experience. The pyramid actually focuses on what and how much could be eaten rather than what to be avoided. Healthy eating is all about getting the right amount of nutrients like protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals needed to maintain good health.
According to the food pyramid, healthy eating involves plenty of whole grain cereals, good amounts of fruits and vegetables, some milk and milk products, meat, poultry, eggs, and nuts, a small amount of fats and oils, and a very small or negligible amount of foods and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt.
Nutrition awareness and implementation is the only solution that not only reduces the problem of undernutrition and deprivation in rural India, but also halts overnutrition and obesity that haunts the young urban population. There is a great significance of mother’s education and literacy to the nutritional status and well being of the family. Low maternal literacy and poverty has been linked to poor nutritional status of young children while ignorance and accessibility to junk foods is related to obesity in urban children.
Nutrition is all about healthy eating habits. Eating right is not only meant for athletes or people in the show biz, it should be incorporated from the grass root levels which assures healthy individuals that eventually lead to a healthy nation.